Payroll & People

From 1st January 2021, the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU came to an end.  The UK Government has said it will introduce a new immigration system which will mean anyone coming to work in the UK from anywhere, with the exclusion of those who are Irish Citizens, will be required to seek permission before working in the UK.


There are different requirements for each Visa, however, if you already employ someone from the EEA or employ a Swiss citizen and they are living in the UK by the end of December 2020, along with any family members, they can apply to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.  Anyone eligible for this scheme must apply before 30th June 2021.  Follow this link for more Information on the EU Settlement Scheme.

Sponsor Licences

From 1st January 2021, any employer will need to have a sponsor licence to hire the majority of workers from outside the UK.  There are two sets of guidance; one for an employer and one for an education provider. The application process is available online and should take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete.  Information on the sponsor license and how to apply can be found on the Government site. If you think you will need to employ workers from outside the UK after 1st January 2020 you should consider applying for a sponsor license now.

After applying to be a sponsor there are then sets of criteria depending on the worker you wish to employ.

Skilled Workers

In order to recruit a person from outside the UK in the ‘Skilled Worker’ category they will need to demonstrate the following:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • they speak English at the required level
  • the job offer is at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level)
  • they’ll be paid at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the job offer, whichever is higher.

If the job will pay less than this - but no less than £20,480 – the applicant may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against their salary. For example, if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

There are different salary rules for workers in some health or education jobs, and for “new entrants” at the start of their careers.

Further information on which occupations are at the required skill level and the salaries for these occupations can be found in Annex E of the UK points-based immigration system: further details statement.

There will not be a general route for employers to recruit from outside the UK for jobs offering a salary below £20,480 or jobs at a skill level below RQF3.

Intra-company transfers

If your business wants to transfer an employee from an overseas part of your business to the UK then you can apply for the Intra-Company Transfer route.  You will only be able to use this scheme if they already work for you and will come to the UK to undertake roles that meet the skills and salary thresholds. Again, if you believe you might use this scheme then you should apply as soon as possible.

The criteria for these workers from 1st January 2021 are:

  • be sponsored as an Intra-Company Transfer by a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • have 12 months’ experience working for a business overseas linked by ownership to the UK business they will work for
  • be undertaking a role at the required skill level of RQF6 or above (graduate-level equivalent)
  • be paid at least £41,500 or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher

Permission for workers transferred to the UK on the Intra-Company Transfer route is temporary. Workers can be assigned to the UK multiple times, but they cannot stay in the UK for more than five years in any six-year period.

Workers paid over £73,900 do not need to have worked overseas for 12 months and can stay for up to nine years in any ten-year period.

Workers who are transferred to the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme for up to one year can apply for the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route. The requirements are the same except there are different rules on length of overseas experience and salary.

  For the latest government information during the transition period, please visit

Other Routes

There is a full list included in the UK points-based immigration system guidance.

If you are already a Home Office licensed sponsor for Tier 2 (general) visa sponsor then you will be automatically granted a new Skilled Worker license and the same applies for existing Intra-Company Transfer sponsors.

Skilled workers

In addition to the definition detailed previously, there will be a requirement for a skilled worker to achieve a total of 70 points.

Each job will have a Standing Occupational Classification (SOC) code at a designated skill level.  This code will determine whether the job meets the requirements of the skilled worker route.  The full list of codes can be found in the July 2020 policy statement

Visit the Government website for a breakdown of characteristics and point system for skilled workers, relevant case studies and information on other routes, such as Global Talent route, the Graduate route and Creative routes.

Steps to consider now

There are a number of steps to take before applying for a license and these include:

  • Check your business is eligible – cannot have unspent criminal convictions for things such as Money Laundering or fraud;
  • Choose the type of skilled worker license you want to apply for;
  • Decide who will manage the sponsorship within your business;
  • Apply online and pay the license fees; there are different fees for small businesses and charities and medium/large employers;
  • Note there are also fees known as the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) to be paid by the UK employer for each skilled migrant worker from 1st January 2021.  Employers will need to pay £1,000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months and an additional charge of £500 for each subsequent six-month period thereafter.

Personal data

Where you receive and transfer personal data to and or from organisations abroad may be restricted after 1st January 2021. Follow this link for further detailed guidance on transferring personal data.

Tax and National Insurance implications

The UK’s exit from the European Union has not changed existing arrangements for the avoidance of double taxation. The UK has bilateral double taxation agreements (DTAs) with all EU Member States and they continue to apply. DTAs protect individuals and businesses from double taxation where the same income or gains are taxable in both countries.