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The UK’s new points-based immigration system opens for visa applications today (1 December 2020). Will the system make it easier or harder for employers to have access to skilled personnel?
In a significant shift from the past, the new system will apply to European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals in the same way as non-EU nationals once the Brexit transitional period ends at 11pm on 31 December 2020. This puts the onus on companies in the UK that need skills from overseas to apply for sponsor licences.
Personnel Today asks five immigration law experts for their reflections on the new system and what its advantages and disadvantages will be:
Jonathan Beech, managing director, Migrate UK: ‘There's a sting in the tail: cost’
At first glance, the points-based system appears a more attractive proposition to employers, certainly in relation to skill and salary levels and cutting red tape.
From 1 December, employers will be able to sponsor workers who are taking on A-level vacancies as opposed to just degree level jobs. This opens up over 140 more job codes and include those below manager level. The salary thresholds are also dropping but it is important that employers check the immigration rules every time they plan to fill a vacancy as a migrant worker must also be paid at least the going rate for the job. The going rate will further depend on whether the proposed employee is a student, under the age of 26 at the time of making the visa application, or is taking on a shortage occupation or PhD level role. The salary goalposts are expected to move regularly so this will need to be bookmarked.
On the red tape front; the much-derided resident labour market test (RLMT) is being removed. Therefore, there is no obligation for employers to show carefully worded job ads for 28 days with a skilled worker application, thus shortening the time to onboard a sponsored worker.
[pullquote]It will be important for employers to understand their obligations as sponsors. There is little (if any) leeway for mistakes to be made which could result in the loss of a sponsor licence, a fine or e