As the UK nears the end of the Brexit transition period, the Home Office has launched a marketing campaign to ensure that employers are ready for the new immigration system which comes into force from 1 January 2021.

We have written extensively about the new immigration system here, but in summary:

  • all non-UK/Irish nationals who arrive in the UK to live, work or study from 1 January 2021 will need to apply for a visa before they travel;
  • if a migrant intends to work in the UK, they may need sponsorship from their employer; and
  • employers will need a sponsor licence if they wish to sponsor migrant workers.

Employers who do not currently hold a sponsor licence but regularly employ EEA nationals in skilled roles are being encouraged to apply for one now as the Home Office anticipates a of surge applications in the new year. Previously, employers were required to justify their immediate need for a sponsor licence, but now the Home Office will accept applications if a business anticipates such a need in the future.

This is a good time to apply for a sponsor licence as supporting documents are currently being accepted by email and applications are being processed in under two weeks (usually four weeks).

Our note on sponsor licences explains which documents are required and the compliance obligations.

Ahead of 1 January 2021, employers are strongly encouraged to consider taking the following actions:

  1. apply for a sponsor licence if you do not already have one;
  2. review your sponsor licence if you do have one to ensure that it is still valid, up-to-date and that you have Certificates of Sponsorship available to use; and
  3. ensure that your EEA national employees have filed applications to the EU Settlement Scheme to protect their right to work in the UK post-Brexit.

We have been helping a lot of employers with their preparation for 1 January 2021, so please contact a member of the immigration team if you require assistance.