Free movement has ended. The government has said the new system will be ‘Fairer, Firmer and Faster’.

The new scheme treats EU and non-EU citizens equally and there are new regulations and changes to the previous immigration scheme.

UK employers need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire people from outside of the UK (but not Irish citizens).

The new system does not apply to EU citizens who were already living in the UK on 31.12.2020, but they do need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30.6.2021 and as a transition measure, employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021. After this date checks can be made by employers using an online system. Employers are liable to prosecution if they employee someone who does not have the right to work in the UK, this includes continuing to employ someone who has not applied for EU Settlement Status by 30th June 2021 even if they have been employed for some time by the same employer. 

Employers have always had a responsibility to check an employee’s right to work, because of COVID-19 the way this is done has been temporarily relaxed, documents can be checked over video calls and digital copies rather than original copies, are acceptable. (A retrospective follow up check needs to take place within 8 weeks of these temporary measures coming to an end).

The principles of the new scheme are that it is global, it judges skills and talent, and is more focused on skills than academia and that more general skills should be recruited from the UK domestic market.

From 1st January 2021, anyone coming to the UK to work will need to demonstrate that:

• they have a j ob offer from a Home Office approved sponsor

• the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)

• they speak English at the required level.

In addition to this:

• if they earn more than the required minimum salary threshold (which has been reduced to £25,600) they are eligible to make an application

• if they earn less than the required mini-mum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job. These conditions carry points that can make the required total of 70.

Points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations. Visas will be awarded to those people with enough points. A total of 70 points is needed to apply to work in the UK.

Anyone coming to work in the UK will need to be paid the higher of the specific salary threshold for their occupation – the ‘going rate’ – and the general salary threshold. However, some applicants will be able to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications, against a lower salary. The general minimum salary threshold will be £25,600.

The government is moving away from the tiered system that has previously existed, for example ‘Tier 2' has become ‘Skilled Worker. Jobs were required to be a the highly skilled level (degree or above) and this has changed to medium skilled level (A level or above).

There used to be a strict resident labour market test which required an employer to advertise a post for 28 days to the local UK market before recruiting someone from outside the EEA, but this has now been removed. The employer is still required to follow a recruitment process.

Other Visas that allow entry to the UK are:

Frontier Worker Permits

Hong Kong British National (Overseas)

(BN(O)) visa


Global Talent

New Graduate Route

These all depend on the reason for coming to the UK, personal circumstances and how long someone is in the country.


Nicky is the owner of HR Support Consultancy. She has a BA(Hons) in Business Studies, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has been a practising HR manager for more than 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA Members Advisory Service (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Service) since it began in 2002. Email: nickyackerley@hrsupportconsultancy

DOI: 10.1080/17415349.2021.1875704

VOL 36 • January 2021 • Veterinary Nursing Journal