From 1 January 2021, a new points-based immigration system will come into force and will apply to all non-British and non-Irish citizens. Under the new system, anyone coming to the UK for work must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.
There will be various routes available for entry to the UK to work, including:
Health and care visa
Start up and innovator
Global talent visa
Does Brexit affect EU citizens already employed by my organisation?
Yes. EU citizens already working for your business, or who you recruit by 31 December 2020, need to take action to gain permission to remain in the UK. This applies unless they have already been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or are from Ireland. Employees must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Successful application guarantees the right to continue living and working in the UK indefinitely.
How should employees apply to the EU Settlement Scheme?
Applications for the Scheme are made from the gov.uk website. It’s free to apply.
What potential consequences are there for employing foreign nationals unlawfully?
Employers are under a legal duty to prevent illegal working and can be subjected to civil penalties where they fail to do so, up to a maximum fine of £20,000 (per worker), should that worker not have permission to carry out the work they are employed to do.
To gain a ‘statutory excuse’ against the civil penalty, employers need to carry out ‘right to work’ checks in accordance with the Home Office’s checking process and offers of employment should be made conditional upon successful right to work checks.
Employers will be committing a criminal offence if they employ an individual and have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ he/she does not have the right to work in the UK.
Do employers need to apply for a sponsorship license?
Currently, employers who wish to employ foreign nationals, and, who are not covered by free movement of persons, must have a sponsorship license to do so. From 1 January 2021, employers must have a sponsorship license to employ a foreign national through some, though not all, of the immigration routes. The skilled worker route requires sponsorship. Sponsorship licences are not needed to employ an individual who has status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Employers can sponsor an employee only if the role meets the minimum requirements. An employer who is a sponsor can issue sponsorship certificates to foreign nationals who will then use it as part of their visa application.
Clearly, it is not possible to cover all legal aspects of recruiting post-Brexit here, but alongside the legalities, there are other, more practical steps employers can take e.g.:
Setting up a checklist to prepare for Brexit To include details on the EU Settlement Scheme, along with what businesses should do when taking on foreign nationals from 1 January 2021
Provide training for line managers Dedicated training on future immigration law for hiring managers and business leaders will help those involved in recruitment remain up to date on developments in 2021.
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