With Brexit’s transitional period drawing to a close, big changes are coming to the UK’s immigration system, especially for skilled worker visas.

If your organization has a sponsor licence and recruits employees from overseas—including from within the EU—understanding these changes for skilled worker visas is critical, as failing to comply can result in substantial fines and even prison time.

If you’re unsure whether your company or organization is in line, here’s a quick primer on the new rules and requirements.

What are the new rules for skilled worker visas?

 On January 1, 2021, a new points-based immigration system will take effect in the UK. This new system will treat all EU and non-EU citizens equally, including skilled workers.

Previously, EU citizens didn’t need to apply for a visa to work in the UK. Under the new system, they’ll need to apply for a skilled worker visa under the same points-based system that applies to non-EU applicants as well.

What are the requirements for skilled worker visas?

To be approved for a skilled worker visa under the new points-based system, a worker must satisfy several criteria, including having a job offer that meets minimum skill levels from an approved employer.

To be approved to work in the UK an applicant must satisfy a blend of minimum requirements and “tradeable points”.

Notably, the new system will apply even to those EU citizens who are already working in the UK without a visa. This has considerable consequences for organizations with a sponsor licence.

What are the consequences for organizations that fail to comply?

The Home Office can visit business premises at any time and have a zero tolerance policy to non-compliance. The consequences for employing someone who is not eligible to work in the UK will be severe, including fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker and in some cases imprisonment of upto 5 years.

Consequently it is imperative that the correct processes are in place and sponsor duties are carried out in order to facilitate successful employment of talented staff from overseas .

 Is your organization ready for the new skilled worker visa rules?

If you’re not sure whether your company is in line with the new rules for skilled worker visas, get in touch with us today and speak with our experienced immigration experts.