Hire Employees from the EU? Make Sure You Know What’s Changing from 2021

If you hire employees from the EU, you need to be aware of the changes coming into place next year, once the transition period comes to an end.

From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work. Anyone coming to the UK to work, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission in advance.

A new points-based immigration system is being introduced in 2021

What are the Key Changes?

The main changes that employers need to be aware of are:

  • The way you hire from the EU is changing. From 1 January 2021, you will need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire eligible people from outside the UK.
  • Free movement is ending, and the new points-based immigration system will introduce job, salary and language requirements that will change the way you hire from the EU.
  • The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which employers recruit from outside the UK.
  • You’ll need a sponsor licence to hire most eligible employees from outside the UK.

What is the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System?

To find out more about the points-based immigration system visit the dedicated GOV.UK page where you can find the latest guidance and resources.

How do Employers Register to Become a Licensed Sponsor?

A new Employers guide has been made available on how to become a licensed sponsor of skilled migrant workers. This provides an overview of the sponsorship process for employers, from applying for a sponsor licence to hiring a new employee from outside the UK.

Getting a sponsor licence normally takes eight weeks and fees apply. Before applying, employers should check their eligibility. To get a licence, you cannot have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering.

Employers do not need to be a sponsor to employ someone from the resident labour market with an existing right to work in the UK. This also includes Irish citizens, EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status, and non-EU citizens with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

How Does This Impact EU Citizens Already in the UK?

The new system will not apply to EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and have until 30 June 2021 to make an application. As a transition measure, employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.

For full details on the points-based immigration system, please visit the dedicated GOV.UK page online.