The Home Office intends to end free movement for EU nationals on 31 December 2020, after that date both EU and non-EU nationals will require a visa to come and work in the UK. We already have some indication in terms of what UK visas will look like after Brexit. On 19 February 2020, the UK government has finally published a policy statement outlining the main components of “points-based” work visa route which will be implemented from 1 January 2021. This Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Route joins the Global Talent Visa Route and Graduate Immigration Visa Route (Post Study Work Visa) in the reworked lineup of the immigration categories that are being introduced in line with Brexit commitments. From the information available, it looks like the number of new routes will be expanded in the future.
General Overview of the Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Route
New work visa route is made for migrants who wish to come to the UK for employment purposes. The migrants for Skilled Migrant Worker visas will need to have a job offer from an “approved sponsor” (i.e. a company with a sponsor licence). The offer must be above the minimum salary threshold and higher than the salary threshold for the occupation in question. The position itself must be at least RQF level 3 or higher. We expect that Skilled Migrant Workers will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years, in line with the requirements under the current Tier 2 (General) visa route.
Requirements for Skilled Migrant Worker Visa
The new work visa route will encapsulate the UK governments desire for a points-based visa route. The Skilled Migrant Worker Visa route will consist of the number of characteristics, some of which can be traded to score the necessary amount of points in order to qualify for a visa.
|Offer of job by approved sponsor||No||20|
|Job at appropriate skill level||No||20|
|Speaks English at required level||No||10|
|Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039||Yes||0|
|Salary of £23,040 – £25,599||Yes||10|
|Salary of £25,600 or above||Yes||20|
|Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)||Yes||20|
|Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job||Yes||10|
|Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job||Yes||20|
From the table above we can see that non-tradeable characteristics include:
- Offer by an approved sponsor: The Home Office has since clarified that an “approved sponsor” refers to the company who holds a valid sponsor licence issued by the Home Office. Refer to our page on sponsor licences for more information. Employers who do not have a sponsor licence are urged to apply now. The good news is that there will no longer be a requirement to conduct a Residence Labour Market Test (“RLMT”).
- Job at an appropriate skill level: The job for Skilled Migrant Worker visa must be at an appropriate skill level, which is at least RQF level 3 or higher. The routes prohibit from sponsoring migrants to fill lower-skilled positions. We do not expect that lower-skilled position will be included in the foreseeable future.
- Speak English at the required level: We do not yet know what the English language requirement will be for the Skilled Migrant Worker visa. However, judging from all the other routes, we expect a requirement for at least level B1 CEFR.
The rest of the characteristics available for Skilled Worker visa are tradable in order to reach the required 70 points in order to qualify for the category. In practice, however, there is not really much to trade if the migrant is not being sponsored for a shortage occupation position or a PhD level occupation.
Most applicants for Skilled Migrant Worker visa will require to have a job offer with a salary above £25,600 or in accordance with the relevant SOC code for the occupation in question. The salary threshold did in fact go down from the current level of £30,000 for Tier 2 (General) applicants. However, current applicants who are under 26 when they apply or those switching from a Tier 4 (General) student visa can benefit from “new entrant” rates with a minimum salary requirement of £20,800. We will have to see whether there will be additional exemptions once the statement of changes for skilled worker visa is published.
The Skilled Migrant Worker visa route may get expanded in the future with additional tradable characteristics, for example, a greater range of qualification levels or other factors, such as age or experience studying in the UK. We need to keep on the lookout for any future developments.
Shortage Occupations for Skilled Migrant Worker Visa
Current shortage occupation list is rather restrictive. The UK government has promised that the shortage occupations list for Skilled Migrant Worker visa will be expanded. Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) will be tasked with producing a new and expanded shortage occupation list encompassing all the jobs suitable for Skilled Migrant Worker visa. We will find out what this list will include probably closer to the end of the year.
The Skilled Migrant Worker Visa route appears to be very similar to the current Tier 2 (General) work visa route. The “novelties” of the proposed route already exist within the current system in some way. We will need to wait for further information to be published before we can judge how effective and groundbreaking the new Skilled Migrant Worker route will be, the jury is still out. For the time being, it seems that one of the most important changes is the fact that Residence Labour Market Test (“RLMT”) will be abolished.
Lawyers at Edmans & Co for your Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Application
Our London immigration lawyers are closely following developments affecting UK immigration due to Brexit. A number of changes have already been announced and we expect that more will follow throughout the year. If you have any concerns or wish to discuss your eligibility for visas, including Skilled migrant Worker visa, do not hesitate to contact us to book a consultation in order to obtain a comprehensive legal advice from one of our highly experienced lawyers.
Our Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Services Review
If you need any legal assistance with your Skilled Migrant Worker Visa application, please contact our London-based immigration lawyers on 020 7439 3000. Book a consultation with one of our immigration experts so that we can assess your case and advise you on how to make a successful Skilled Migrant Worker Visa Application.