Brexit: employing non-UK citizen workers


Brexit: employing non-UK citizen workers

28th January 2021

What is the UK points based immigration system?

On 31st December 2020, at 11pm, freedom of movement between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) ended.  On 1st January 2021 a new UK Points-Based Immigration System was introduced.

The system is intended to treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work.  Under a points-based immigration system, points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries, and shortage occupations.  Visas are then awarded to individuals who gain enough points.

How to become a sponsor?

Before applying to be a sponsor you should:


To apply, you will need to:

  • choose the type of skilled worker licence you want to apply for

  • put appropriate systems in place to act as a sponsor.

  • apply online and pay the fee.

Being a sponsor allows you to recruit skilled workers globally for 4 years.

Who can you hire as a sponsor? 

As a licensed sponsor, you will be able to hire eligible employees from anywhere in the world.


To hire someone from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, the job you are advertising must meet the minimum skill and salary thresholds:

  • the minimum skill level will be set at RQF3 (equivalent to A level).

  • the minimum salary threshold will be the higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for that job – some employees may be paid less than £25,600, for example if their job is in a shortage occupation.

  • any applicants from outside the UK must also meet English language requirements.


If the above requirements are met and you are a licensed sponsor, you will be able to sponsor their application to come to the UK to work.

Employers Responsibilities 

Employers must:

  • check that foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications, or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this.

  • only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship.

  • tell UK visas and immigration (UKVI) if sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa.


Employers licenses may be downgraded, suspended, or withdrawn if responsibilities are not met.

Applicant Requirements

Written Confirmation of Immigration Status

EU and non-EU citizens wishing to come to and live in the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to demonstrate their right to be in the UK and the entitlements they have. All applicants will receive written confirmation of their immigration status. EU citizens will additionally be provided with secure access to their immigration status information via an online service which they will be able to use to confirm their rights and to access services when necessary, instead of a physical status document.


Online Right to Work Checks

EU and non-EU citizens who are entitled to work will be able to use an online service to demonstrate their right to work in the UK. This online service, which has been in operation since January 2019, makes right to work checks simpler for employers, by making individual’s right to work information available in real time and removing the need for physical document checks. This also allows the option for checks to be conducted remotely, for example via video call. A similar online right to rent service, which most individuals will be able to use, is planned for later this year, making right to rent checks easier for landlords.



From January 2021, most EU citizens will not need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to enrol their biometrics and will instead provide facial images using a smartphone self-enrolment application form. 


English Language

The requirement for migrants to speak English language supports integration ensuring migrants can live and be part of the wider community in the UK. 


Job Offer

The applicant must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor at an appropriate skill level.


Meeting the mandatory criteria above will earn the applicant 50 points:                                             

  • Offer of a job by an approved sponsor - 20 points

  • Job at an appropriate skill level - 20 points

  • English language skills at level B1 - 10 points


The applicant must then then obtain a further 20 “tradeable” points through a combination of points for their salary, a job in shortage occupation, or a relevant PhD.  For example, if an applicant is paid over £25,600, they will get an additional 20 points.


Application decisions are normally made within 8 weeks. 

Monitoring Employees

Employers must have HR systems in place that:

  • monitor employees’ immigration status.

  • keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including a passport and right to work information.

  • track and record employees’ attendance.

  • keep employee contact details up to date.

  • report to UKVI if there is a problem, for example if an employee stops coming to work.

Business Changes

Employers must report any significant changes in their circumstances within 20 working days, for example:

  • stop trading or become insolvent.

  • substantially change the nature of the business.

  • Become involved in a merger or takeover.

Further Information 

We recommend the following sources of information to keep you up to date:

Government Guidance: New immigration system: what you need to know - GOV.UK (

Home Office Podcast: Business and the Future of Immigration in 2021 | Intelligence Squared on Acast

In the meantime, if you would like help understanding requirements, get in touch today for a no obligation chat.


What our clients say

“Auriol has always been an excellent sounding board and trusted advisor.  Her support and advice not only helped me manage employee issues, but also recruit a strong team”

Stuart McNicoll, Nexus Community Leisure