Contact us today - 0330 094 9338

Hiring from the EU

A Summary for Businesses

From 1st January 2021, free movement with the EU ends and the UK introduces a new skills based immigration system.  With the exception of Irish citizens, all applicants will be treated equally, regardless of which country they come from. 

New immigration system:

From 1st January you need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire eligible people from overseas.  Your licence will allow you to recruit skilled workers for up to 4 years.  Visas will be awarded to skilled workers who score enough points under the new immigration system.


There are 3 main requirements which must be satisfied:

  1. The applicant must have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor.

2. The job must be at the required skill and salary level.

  • Skills threshold:  the job offer must be at the required skill level (A level or above)
  • Salary threshold:  the salary must be £25,600 or the going rate for the role, whichever is higher (with the exception of: jobs on the skills shortage list; applicants with a PhD; new entrants to the labour market).

3. The applicant must have knowledge of the English language at the required level.

Questions employers need to ask:

  • Does the potential new recruit qualify for a visa?
  • Is their salary high enough to meet the criteria?
  • How do we manage ongoing compliance requirements?
  • What government fees will we incur and do we divide these with the employee?
  • Will our business be affected by the 8 week delay whilst the application is processed?

Challenges for employers:

Under the sponsor management system, there are onerous requirements on employers.  In return for the grant of a sponsor licence, employers have a direct responsibility to act in accordance not only with UK immigration laws and the sponsor guidance, but also with wider UK law including employment law. 

Duties as a licensed sponsor include reporting duties, record-keeping duties and compliance duties.  For example, it is necessary to report if a sponsored worker does not turn up for work for 10 consecutive days without permission, or if their role or salary changes. 

There are severe civil and criminal sanctions if businesses get things wrong, and key members of staff can be held personally liable.  The Home Office can undertake checks on businesses to ensure compliance with the immigration rules; these visits can be announced or unannounced.

How to prepare for the new system to minimise disruption to your business.

  1. Forward planning – consider your recruitment needs:
  • Assess what the new system will mean for your business and the way in which you may need to adapt your recruitment processes.  Will typical vacancies in your business qualify under the new requirements?
  • Budget planning: bear in mind the substantial cost of applications.

2. Apply for your sponsor licence now if you do not already have one.  If you have a licence under the previous system, this will continue to operate until it expires.

3. Lower skilled roles.  Can you use British nationals or EU nationals who were in the UK prior to 31st December 2020?  EU nationals who are already in the UK need to register under the EU Settlement Scheme.  It is no longer possible to recruit from overseas for lower skilled workers.

4. Bearing in mind your new duties as a sponsor, undertake a “health check” to ensure your immigration processes and procedures are sufficiently robust.

5. Ensure that you are aware of your compliance duties and that you are adhering to them.

How Boardside can help

  • Licence applications.
  • All applications under the points based system.
  • Post sponsor licence application support, including assistance with compliance checks and ensuring your business is following the correct procedures in relation to immigration and employment law.
  • Audits of HR files to ensure robust and compliant immigration processes.
  • Advice in relation to the prevention of illegal working.
  • Establishing good working practices.
  • Training seminars to your staff in relation to immigration.

For business immigration and strategic employment law support call Boardside on 01423 802 127.