Recent Changes to Immigration Law

Posted Wednesday 16th December 2020

December has seen many changes to the UK Immigration system as the UK’s departure from the European Union rapidly approaches, with the majority already in force. Individuals and employers alike should ensure that they are aware of the new systems and the implications this may have going forward.

Skilled Worker Route

The Skilled Worker route does not formally replace the popular Tier 2 work visa until 1 January 2021, but applicants will be able to apply online from 1 December 2020.

Key changes in this new route include a lower skill level requirement (A-Level threshold opposed to Degree/Masters), a reduction in the basic minimum salary requirement to £25,600 and the opportunity to ‘trade’ points to satisfy some requirements. The Resident Labour Market Test is no longer required, nor is there a cap on applications granted as previously, speeding up the recruitment process for many employers.

Employers should note that their duties as a licenced sponsor, which will automatically change to a Skilled Worker Licence, remain unchanged. Those heavily reliant on workers from the EU/EEA must apply for a licence as soon as possible should they wish to continue doing so.

EU Settlement Scheme

EU/EEA citizens can continue to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme until 30 June 2021, although they must reside in the UK before 31 December 2020. Applicants can secure either Settled or Pre-Settled status dependent on whether they have previously resided in the UK for a continuous period of more than 5 years. You have the right to live, work and study in the UK with this status, and can seek citizenship following 12 months of Settled status.

EU citizens are not required to prove their status until after the 30 June 2021 deadline. Employers should note that pressuring employees into providing this, or asking invasive questions, ahead of this deadline may be viewed as discriminatory.

Tier 1 (Innovator)

The Innovator route was introduced in 2019 for entrepreneurs with new, innovative and viable business plans that are capable of securing endorsement.

The requirements for this visa (such as £50,000 investment) remain unchanged but future applicants will be subject to a points-based system from 1 December 2020. A score of 70 points must be reached; some of these are mandatory for all applicants, whereas others are dependent on whether it is a new business or, if extending, the same as previously.

Global Talent Visa (Digital Technology route)

Changes to the Eligibility Criteria for the Global Talent Visa’s Digital Technology route came into force on 1 December 2020, simplifying this stage of the application for future applicants. There is now only one mandatory (previously ‘key’) criterion to fulfil, specifically to evidence your recognition as a leading talent (or potential to become so, if applying under Exceptional Promise) in the digital technology field. Other previously mandatory criteria have now been made optional.

This visa remains valid for five years and enables you to work, change employment or become self-employed in the UK without prior approval from the Home Office.


For advice on immigration please contact Jennifer Maxwell-Harris or Reema Jethwa.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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