The UK government has now published a Statement of Changes setting out the rules for the new UK immigration system. Applications under the new system will open on December 1, 2020 for non-EEA nationals. EEA nationals will be eligible to apply from within the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021, and when they apply for entry clearance, it will be granted with effect from January 1, 2021. Irish nationals will not require a visa or permission to work.
The Skilled Worker route is for both EEA and non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the United Kingdom for the purpose of working in a skilled job they have been offered. This will replace the current Tier 2 (General) route. An overview of the Skilled Worker route and the main differences between the current Tier 2 (General) route are outlined below:
Applicants must be awarded 70 points in total to be eligible to apply under the Skilled Worker route. All applicants must qualify for 50 mandatory points for:
An applicant may be awarded the remaining 20 tradeable in one of the following ways:
The criteria used to identify a “new entrant to the labour market” are being amended to include those sponsored in postdoctoral research positions and those working towards professional qualifications. The criteria for new entrants switching from the Student route are being widened to include those who were in the route at any time in the two years before they apply. The criteria will continue to include applicants who are under 26 years of age at the time of application.
The Tier 2 (General) route will be closed to new applications from December 1, 2020. An individual who has entry clearance or permission to stay on the Tier 2 (General) route and wishes to extend their stay in the United Kingdom can apply for further leave, or settlement, under the Skilled Worker rules if they meet the requirements.
It will be possible to switch into Skilled Worker from within the United Kingdom from any other route, except where the applicant holds leave as a visitor, short-term student, parent of a child at school, seasonal worker, domestic worker, or leave outside the rules.
The Intra-Company Transfer route is for established employees who are being transferred by their employer company to do a skilled role in the United Kingdom. The Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route is for employees who are being transferred by their employer company to a role in the United Kingdom as part of a structured graduate training programme. This will replace the current Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) routes. A summary of the main changes to the Intra-Company Transfer route are as follows:
The following amendments have been made to the English language requirements:
From September 10, 2020, the Student and Child Student routes replaced the previous Tier 4 category. Further changes have been set out in the Statement of Changes and the main updates are as follows:
The government has set out two routes. The BN(O) Status Holder route is for BN(O) citizens and their dependents who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the United Kingdom. The BN(O) Household Member route is for the adult child, born on or after 1 July 1997 of a BN(O) citizen. The applicant and any dependent partner or child applying under this route must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the United Kingdom and form part of the same household as the BN(O) citizen.
Following on from our previous LawFlash, this route will allow work and study in the United Kingdom and both are routes to settlement. Applications under this route will open from January 31, 2021.
The Statement of Changes confirms that there will be an exemption to the continuous residence requirement for the purpose of a settlement application where an applicant has been absent for longer than 180 days owing to the pandemic.
Individuals with a biometric passport from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland applying under the new immigration system to come to the United Kingdom for work or study, will be able to complete the biometric enrolment part of their application via the UK’s new “UK Immigration: ID Check” app. Guidance on using this app has now been published.
A new option to expedite the processing of a sponsor licence application has been implemented. This will be available from 12 November 2020 and the priority processing cost will be £500 in addition to the application fee. Employers who do not already have a sponsor licence and will need to sponsor EU nationals after December 31, 2020 should consider filing a sponsor licence application as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this alert, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Shannon A. Donnelly
 See our recent LawFlash on the UK immigration system post-Brexit.