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Government Explains Business Requirements to Hire Overseas Staff in 2021

The UK will adopt a new points based immigration system in 2021, and the Government has updated its guidance to help businesses understand what they need to do to hire staff from overseas

Published on September 24, 2020

International Round Table

Next year, the UK is moving to a points based immigration system, which will mean changes both for those who want to move to the UK, as well as for businesses which want to hire staff from overseas. As part of the change, the UK Government has published guidance for employers on the steps they'll need to take to hire individuals from outside of the UK.

From January 1, 2021, most businesses wanting to hire staff from overseas will need a sponsor licence. The Government explain that "Anyone you want to recruit from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission first." However, the Government is noting that the new system "will not apply to EEA or Swiss citizens you already employ in the UK", and that "EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020, and their family members, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They have until 30 June 2021 to apply."

The new system means that anyone you recruit from outside of the UK will need to qualify via certain criteria. For example, they should "speak English at the required level", the job they're being offered should be "at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level)", and their wage should be "at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the job offer, whichever is higher."

The new system provides different avenues for those who don't qualify under the above criteria, allowing applicants to be able to 'trade points' which could give them the required points total for a visa.

There are also new regulations for inter-company transfers. For example, if you hire staff as part of youtr business overseas, and want to transfer them to the UK, different criteria will apply, including that the individual should "be paid at least £41,500 or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher".

Employers will also need to become a Home Office licensed sponsor to be able to employ candidates from overseas. According to the Government, "If you’re already a licensed Tier 2 (General) visa sponsor, you’ll be automatically granted a new Skilled Worker licence", and "If you’re an Intra-Company Transfer sponsor, you’ll be automatically granted a new Intra-Company Transfer licence."

For other businesses not yet licensed, if you expect you'll want to hire people from overseas after January 1, 2021, the Government is recommending you apply for a sponsor licence now, which you can do by going to www.gov.uk/apply-sponsor-licence.

For full details on the Government's guidance for companies employing overseas candidates from Jan 1, 2021, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/recruiting-people-from-outside-the-uk-from-1-january-2021

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