This time last year, I wrote about the Immigration White Paper, and a lot has changed in a year. The proposals in that paper didn’t appear in the Conservative Manifesto and all indications are that it would be replaced by a new Points Based System for immigration. When this idea was first floated, I wrote about what it could mean but at the time there were very few details about the proposal.
During the course of the election we found out some further details of the plans and while these are still to be finalised, they do give an indication of what the future may hold for migrants and businesses:
1) There are likely to be three main tiers under any new Points Based System:
- The first tier will be for leaders in their field who will be able to come to the UK without a job offer. This is similar to the existing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa and it remains to be seen if more places will be made available, or if the criteria will be relaxed to encourage a higher number of applicants.
- The second tier will be for skilled workers with a job offer. This sounds like it will be the same as the existing Tier 2 visa category. That means that employers will still need to sponsor workers although it is possible one of the themes of the White Paper, reducing burden on employers, will be carried forward.
- A third tier of temporary visas for so called “unskilled jobs” which need to be filled on a temporary basis.
2) There may be sector specific visa routes. This has been raised in the context of recruiting NHS workers but there is likely to be pressure from business leaders to widen this to other sectors, such as digital technology.
3) Costs are going to increase. At the moment, a three year work visa costs a minimum of £1,810 when you consider the visa fee and the Immigration Skills Charge. The Conservative Manifesto included a proposal to increase the Immigration Skills Charge from £400 a year to £625 a year, which would mean the cost of a three year work visa would increase to a minimum £2,495. It is common for businesses to meet this cost for potential employees, so the cost of recruitment may increase.
4) The Government are still committed to reducing net migration. While this is no longer expressed as a commitment to reduce net migration to under 100,000 a year (the current level is 258,000), there are still likely to be measures to dramatically reduce the number of migrants coming to the UK.
The intention is that any new immigration system will be in place by January 2021, so we will hear more details of the proposals during the course of 2020. In the meantime, with the Government’s Brexit deal likely to be approved by Parliament, businesses should consider now how to retain current EU national employees, and will be able to continue to recruit as normal until the end of 2020.
If you have any questions about how a new immigration system may affect you, please get in touch.