4 minute read 14 Oct 2020
People walking through tunnel

How to plan for the UK’s new points-based immigration system

By Seema Farazi

Partner, Financial Services, Immigration and Brexit, Ernst and Young LLP; EY EMEIA People Advisory Services COVID-19 Response Leader

Over 20 years' cutting edge immigration law experience. A qualified barrister, who has practised in complex immigration, extradition and public international law cases at all appeal court levels.

4 minute read 14 Oct 2020
Related topics Brexit Workforce

The introduction of the UK’s new immigration rules on 1 January 2021 will represent the biggest changes to the UK’s system in almost five decades.

In brief
  • Have you assessed the impact of immigration system changes on your talent and mobility plans?
  • Have you adapted your cross-border ‘work anywhere’ policies for the change?
  • Are your employees and business managers aware of new rules and risks relating to business travel? 

From 1 January 2021, following the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK will have a new points-based immigration system. EU and EEA citizens resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 will have the right to settle, provided that they apply to EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. It is imperative that organisations consider their talent and mobility plans and are prepared for restricted rights to work and changes to rules on business travel and social security.

Top tips for workforce and people

  • Ensure that EU (in UK) and UK (in EU) employees have complied with the applicable immigration registration and legal requirements. 
  • Inform your travellers, remote workers and business stakeholders on changes to the immigration landscape from 1 January 2021 and how this will impact your business and them. Considerations include personal and corporate risk; permitted activities and operational resilience; speed to deployment and cost. For example, UK immigration cost will increase for EU arrivals from £0 to £9,500 for a five-year work visa and lead times will apply for applications for visas. 
  • Identify any mobile employees amongst your current assignee population who are currently living and working in the EU, confirm their nationalities and current countries of residence, and ensure that any A1 certificates extensions into 2021 are in place before 31 December 2020. 
  • Monitor ongoing developments on social security cooperation between the UK and EU. 
  • Review your cross-border remote working/‘work anywhere’ models (considering compliance risk, talent retention and attraction). 
  • For start-ups, ensure you have a Sponsor Licence in place if you may need non-UK workers. 
  • Undertake strategic workforce planning, including: 
    • Conduct a workforce risk analysis identifying any key personnel or material numbers of employees, who may require support, or can no longer work remotely in the EU without immigration permission. 
    • Support talent retention by helping employees with the registration processes. 
    • Ensure workforce supply models can meet projected demand.
    • Assess the benefits of expediting any recruitment of key roles or talent moves before 31 December 2020. 
    • Ensure adequate right to work checking is in place that ‘lean-in’ to available government flexibilities.

The arrangements for UK citizens in the EU will mirror those for EU citizens in the UK – those who arrive by 31 December 2020 will be able to stay on an ongoing basis, although registration requirements will vary by country. UK talent currently in or moving into the EU will present more challenge - with each EU country implementing their own legislation.

Organisations must understand the immigration processes and timelines for EEA and Swiss worker arrivals in the UK from 1 January 2021 and what activities their business travellers are performing. Even organisations with the most Brexit–proof models should be alert to how immigration issues may impact both existing and planned workforces in the UK and EU, particularly with pandemic complexities around travel. Ongoing implementation and increasing enforcement of posted worker legislation across the EU brings a whole new dynamic to assessing the risks associated with business travel and short–term mobility.

We can support by: 

  • Brexit preparing ‘work anywhere’ policies
  • Supporting immigration and visa processes for personnel moving across the UK/EU borders
  • Providing a Health Check on your UK Sponsor Licence
  • Assisting with Sponsor Licence applications and compliance
  • Reviewing immigration strategy and workforce planning to optimise where and how employees are deployed across Europe
  • Assessing the viability of travel and effective use of business travel to support ESG and D&I performance
  • Assisting with managing social security and other remuneration costs
  • Devising best in class communication strategies, policies and contracts to manage workforce fears and concerns, and to mitigate against individual and corporate regulatory risk

With a new UK immigration system landing on 1 January 2021, it is imperative that organisations assess and identify their EU workforce and plan for the impacts of the changes to  UK’s 2021 immigration system. 

Summary

Business should look to benefit from changes in the UK’s 2021 system with thoughtful planning. Those who have a clear line of sight over their risks, take decisive action, and ensure clear communications to all those affected, will be better placed to manage the impact and stay ahead of disruption.

About this article

By Seema Farazi

Partner, Financial Services, Immigration and Brexit, Ernst and Young LLP; EY EMEIA People Advisory Services COVID-19 Response Leader

Over 20 years' cutting edge immigration law experience. A qualified barrister, who has practised in complex immigration, extradition and public international law cases at all appeal court levels.

Related topics Brexit Workforce