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Visa changes and moving to the UK

What happens if firms cannot hire enough people to make goods, look after people and wait on customers?

We might find out soon. The Government has outlined plans for a points-based immigration system after the UK leaves the EU.

The immediate reactions involve the difficulties ahead with getting “low-skilled” workers to qualify, which might affect industries including social care, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and construction.

There is also no route for self-employed people to come to the UK. As significant numbers of people who work as developers and designers in the digital and creative industries are freelancers – because firms struggle to find enough experienced people to hire – this is bound to be an area that triggers heated discussions. The construction industry will have similar concerns.

In Brighton alone, 1 in 6 working men and 1 in 9 working women are self-employed and (although the figures are not available) that includes non-UK people. We’ve met plenty of European freelancers in various workplaces – from 2021, they would not be able to come to the UK.

There are complex routes for freelances to use to enter the UK, such as an “innovation visa” but that requires a ‘new idea’ and £50,000 in funds.

Here are the details of the planned points system:


Proposed UK points-based immigration system

Mandatory requirementPoints
Job offer from an approved sponsor20
Job at an appropriate skill level20
English language at the required level10
Salary-related points
£25,600 or above20
£23,040 to £25,59910
£20,480 to £23,0390
Additional points
Job in a shortage occupation20
PhD in a relevant STEM subject20
PhD in a subject relevant to job10

Workers require a minimum of 70 points. Source: Home Office



The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, says employers need to stop relying on EU workers for lower-paid jobs and invest more in training people. Given the timescales, that’s a high priority for 2020 if your firm will face problems filling vacancies when these visa changes go ahead.

There are many articles with analysis and concerns, including this one which includes views from the CBI, British Chamber of Commerce and representatives of various industries (spoiler: not positive views) http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/points-based-immigration-scheme-shuts-out-low-skilled-workers/.

The details might change nearer the time. Following concerns about the agricultural industry, a pilot scheme for seasonal workers will increase from 2,500 to 10,000 places. Similar changes might happen if other industries lobby about their staffing worries.

If you’re an employer considering hiring people who will move to the UK in the future, you will need to become a Tier 2 sponsor from 2021. Costs and bureacracy are inevitably going to be involved.

If you rely on freelancers and contractors, you need to consider if that’s going to be affected and how you’re going to cope with either delays in people being able to get to the UK or alternatives including hiring employees instead – and probably training them to the skill levels you need.

If you have EU people in your workplace, encourage them to apply for Settled Status here: http://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families. It’s free to apply and the deadline is 30th June 2021 and you can see more details here: https://www.quickhr.biz/brexit-and-travel-between-uk-and-eu/. The short version is: it’s a way to avoid any hassle leaving and returning to the UK, for up to 5 years away from the UK.

Finally, if you’re a UK citizen thinking about moving to a European country for a job or as a freelance or contractor: no idea yet how things might change. We can only assume that things will change and the worse case scenario is you’ll face similar changes too.

We’ll provide updates as things change and develop.

By Brian


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