New Immigration System: What Do Employers Need to Know?

Hiring people from the EU will not be as easy as before Brexit.  There will be additional financial and administrative costs from 1st January 2021 when freedom of movement ends.  

Businesses will need to sponsor EU nationals to work in the UK by applying for a sponsor licence under the government’s points-based system. 

Companies are being urged to check now that they are prepared for the new immigration rules using the government’s transition tool.

In short, to recruit from the EU (excluding Ireland) after 31st December 2020, tech companies with a sponsor licence will be able to use the Tier 2 Skilled Worker route.

Skilled Worker Visa Route

Candidates recruited via this route will need 70 points to be able to apply to work in the UK. Points are made up of the following 3 mandatory requirements:

  • a job offer by an approved sponsor – 20 points
  • to speak English to the required level – 10 points
  • the job offer to be at a skills level equivalent to A level or above – 20 points

The necessary additional 20 points are gained from ‘tradeable’ salary/education based elements:

  • a salary of at least £25,600 – 20 points
  • PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job – 20 points
  • a job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee – 20 points

Other Routes

Other migration routes are available, each with different requirements:

  • Global Talent route – candidates endorsed by Tech Nation for digital technology can enter the UK without a job offer and employers do not need to be sponsors.
  • Graduate route – international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021 will be able to work in the UK unsponsored for 2 years – or 3 years for PhD students - with a Graduate visa.
  • Intra-company Transfer route – graduate level staff will be able to temporarily move to the UK with ICT sponsorship.
  • startup and Innovator route - designed to attract entrepreneurial talent and innovative, scalable business ideas to the UK.


The fee for a Tier 2 Skilled Worker licence is £536 for a small business (fewer than 50 employees or £10.2m turnover) or £1,476 for a larger company.

Ongoing fees include the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) which is paid by an employer for each skilled migrant worker (Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer routes). The fee is £1000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months and £500 for each subsequent 6 months.

Companies will also have the administrative cost of appointing people to manage the sponsorship process.

Existing Tier 2 sponsors will automatically be granted a new skilled worker licence or Intra-Company Transfer licence.

Candidates from the EU will also have to pay Visa fees plus the healthcare surcharge.

To retain existing EU staff companies should also remind people to apply under the EU settlement scheme to secure their immigration status post Brexit.

The new rules are expected to have a negative effect on the number of people applying to work in the UK from the EU on short term contracts from next year. 

Richard Wheeler Associates is experienced in recruiting tech professionals from anywhere in the world. Contact us to find out more about our IT recruitment solutions.