On Monday 13 July, the Home Office released further detailed guidance for businesses on the UK’s new Points-Based Immigration system. The new system comes into effect on 1 January 2021 when free movement with the EU ends.
Since the initial policy statement, the CBI has continually impressed upon the government the need to publish more detail about the system as soon as possible to give businesses time to prepare. The vast majority of businesses have never needed to engage with the UKs complex visa system because of free movement. With that ending, all businesses that are looking to hire someone from overseas from 1 January 2021 will need to navigate the new points-based system.
The latest update is a positive step that provides some important clarifications and insights into how the points-based immigration system will operate. They key bits of new information that businesses should be aware of are:
- The government intends to relax the rules around ‘switching’ which will enable visa holders to switch between visa types whilst in the UK
- The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa route will be retained and the cooling off period will be simplified. This is a positive step that could reduce costs for firms and is something that the CBI has previously called for
- Firms will continue to be able to complete right to work checks digitally and applicants will be able to access their immigration status information via an online service – a helpful modernisation of the process
- The government has confirmed that it intends to expand the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme. This commitment is positive as the YMS provides a route for young people to come and work in the UK for up to two years. However, it is important to note that YMS agreements are bilateral so depend on the outcome of negotiations with other countries. You can view the list of countries that the UK already has YMS agreements with here
- The government has also announced the reintroduction of the post-study work visa for international graduates. This enables graduates to remain in the UK for two years after the end of their course, or three years if they completed a PhD.
Whilst these announcements mark a step in the right direction, businesses still need the full, confirmed detail of many of these elements before they can properly prepare for the new system. So, the CBI will be encouraging the Home Office to publish the updated Immigration Rules as soon as possible.
In recognition of the scale of the change when free movement ends, the CBI will also be producing a guide to the new immigration system to help businesses understand how to navigate it. The guide will be published in the Autumn and will be relevant for all firms but may be particularly helpful for those that have no prior experience of the UK’s visa system.
As ever, we are keen to hear your views on the latest immigration announcements and to understand what they mean for your business. If you would like to share any feedback with us please contact Elliot Mason.