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The new skilled worker visa: is it working?

What is the new skilled worker visa?

On the 1st January, new immigration rules were introduced in the UK which replaced free movement within the EU and employing candidates from overseas now incurs cost for both employer and employee.

The new points based system applies to everyone wishing to work, live or study in the UK. If you’re a skilled worker and have been offered a job by an approved employer sponsor, you will now apply for your visa via the skilled worker route. 

For employers wishing to hire anyone from outside the UK, excluding Ireland, they must be approved by the Home Office. 

As of August 2021, 47000 companies are listed on the ‘Register of Sponsors licensed under the Worker and Temporary Worker routes’ list. Once approved, they must then issue their candidate with a certificate of sponsorship and pay the highest of either a salary of £25,600 per annum, an hourly rate of £10.10, or the standard industry rate for the job role. 

What have the post-Brexit immigration rules meant for UK businesses?

Prior to January 2021, it was free for employers to hire anyone within the EU thanks to free movement. Under the new rules, it takes about eight weeks to be approved by the Home Office to receive a sponsor licence. 

In order to obtain this, a company must have HR infrastructure in place among other requirements. Once they have received the licence, the company is then able to apply for and issue the certificate of sponsorship. For this to be granted, the job role must be verified against the necessary skills requirements and pay an annual salary of at least £25,600. 

After the company has received the certificate, the candidate can then start their visa application which will take another three or so weeks, adding up to about four months in total to make the new hire. On top of the investment of time, it can also cost a company up to £10,000 to hire just one person from outside the UK. 

How have these new immigration rules impacted the UK workforce?

The new rules have had a marked impact on the UK workforce in a number of ways, including significantly increased resourcing costs and processing time for new employees. For sectors that rely heavily on temporary and seasonal workers, the effects of the new immigration visas have really been felt, with staff shortages and supply chain issues. 

The first eight months of the points based immigration system, combined with the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have seen staff shortages that in some sectors have reached crisis point.

The poultry industry, for example, has had serious problems that have already led to chicken shortages across the country, and there are fears of a turkey shortage at Christmas. About 60% of workers in the poultry industry are from EU countries. 

In between the lockdowns, when travel permitted, lots of EU workers returned to their home countries and many haven’t returned. Because the jobs are classed as low skilled, the new immigration rules have made it very difficult for businesses to re-hire from overseas. 

Similar problems are happening for hauliers; there is a shortage of truck drivers in the UK labour market. The government won’t grant temporary visas for EU lorry drivers, instead suggesting more training courses and incentives programmes are rolled out to increase the number of British drivers. Haulage is a major component of the UK supply chain and ongoing bottlenecks in all sectors could lead to wider spread problems in the coming months.  

How can Shaar Bridge help?

The new rules can cause complications for both employer and employee. Shaar Bridge’s specialist immigration solicitors are experts in the area, and can help guide you through the process. 

Shazia Akhtar is a regional heavyweight when it comes to all things immigration. She has a great interest in reuniting families and is often cited as authority amongst the Bedfordshire and Cambridge area.

Find out more on Immigration Law here>>