Beginning from January 1, 2021, a new immigration system is set to be implemented by the UK government. However, the proposals, stated in the white paper, are still under consultation.
As such, the educational sector should be aware of the proposals in order to adequately prepare for whatever outcome this may bring with respect to the recruitment of foreign staff and students.
End of EU Free Movement
Due to Brexit, the rights to move freely in the UK will end by December 31, 2020. They will be subjected to the same visa system as other non-EU nationals, and more rules may be observed before working or studying in the country.
Since no visa will be required for short visas by EU citizens, EU students will not need a visa to study in the UK as long as the period of the course is less than six months. Nonetheless, the visa will be required from those undertaking longer courses. As such, sponsorship will be required.
The students will demonstrate good academic ability, English proficiency and ability to fund fees. It is suggested by the White paper that “the differentiation method,” which relaxes some evidential requirements from students from some countries with good compliance record should be maintained and extended to students from EEA.
Also, the right to post-study work has been given to international students; permitting them to work in the country for six months (for bachelor’s and masters holders) and one year (for Ph.D. holders)
The skilled work
Sponsor license will be required from employers once free movement ends. As such, the government intends to simplify, speed up, and broaden this visa route; by removing the cap that was placed on the quantity of awarded Tier 2 visas.
Presently, visas for skilled workers up to RQF level 6 or degree level are supported by sponsors. This is to reduce the minimum skill level to level A (RQF level 3) and will aid in broadening the number of roles to be sponsored.
However, the government has confirmed that a minimum salary level will exist for sponsorship. But this is still under consultation.
Migrants will be allowed to do any job in the country without sponsorship or minimum skill level using a short term temporary work route. However, this will be for 12 months, followed by a cooling period of 12 months. It is to address the fears of employers in different sectors who currently rely on some EU citizens to fill some lower skilled roles. However, highly skilled migrants can also be used.
There would be free movement for immigrants between employers during this period. This is to bring about competition between employers and protect visa holders from abuse.
However, holders are not permitted to bring dependents to settle in the country.
Youth mobility scheme
This scheme permits migrants from up to 30 years, from designated countries to freely work in the country for the span of two years. As such, the country wishes to continue the scheme, and more countries (like countries in the EU) could also be added.
Importance of consultation
Participation of institutions in the process of consultation is essential, particularly with regards to the new digital system design made for the student visa, the cooling off periods and maximum duration of temporary work visas and minimum salary level for skilled work visas.
However, there may be a little impact felt after all the promises made, if this is not handled.
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