Tier 2 to Skilled Worker Visa – Out with the old and in with the new

Working in the UK for foreign nationals has always required a lot of bureaucracy in terms of sorting out paperwork, visas and finally getting immigration clearance. Today the process behind it is still similar but it has been rebranded recently to make way for the legal changes that have taken effect on the UK immigration rules as a result of Brexit. 

Until the end of last year, the process that a foreign national would have to go through to live and work in the UK was governed under the Tier 2 General Work Visa. Under this visa route, a foreign national (from outside of the EU) could enter the UK to live and work provided that they have a job offer from a UK-based company sponsoring their application. Moreover, with a Tier 2 General work visa, an individual would have to have a job that meets a certain salary threshold, be able to speak English to the required level and have no criminal record. The Tier 2 Visa governed the process for foreign nationals who wanted to come and live and work in the UK for several decades. It was a very popular visa route and has allowed many foreign nationals to enter the country, work here, build a life here, and entitle those who stay for a minimum of five years under the Tier 2 route the chance to apply for indefinite leave to remain also known as a permanent residence.

Since the UK’s official departure from the EU on January 1st 2021, several important immigration changes took effect which mainly changed the processes behind a few immigration routes linked to working and studying in the UK. The impact of Brexit means that it is no longer part of the free movement of people’s policy. Under this policy that comes with general EU membership, EU citizens from all member states can enter and live and work in the UK with no visa application at all. However, today, as a result of Brexit, they are classed as foreign nationals and are subjected to the same immigration procedures as individuals from outside of the EU and must now apply through the official visa channels to gain entry clearance.

At the beginning of 2020, in anticipation of Brexit, the UK government reformed its immigration policy towards workers and students effectively scrapping the old Tier 2 General Work Visa and replacing it with a new category called the Skilled Worker Visa. It did this with the hopes of making the UK job market more specific and exclusive for skilled workers where individuals today must have a job offer from a company that meets a certain work category or work type. This change has gained the UK government some controversy because it does not allow people from abroad to enter to work in hospitality, for example, which is a huge market and industry in the UK.

Immigration lawyers London who have a lot of the latest information concerning immigration changes in the UK confirm that the new skilled worker visa route treats both EU and non-EU nationals equally. They now have to meet the same requirements to gain clearance to enter the UK to live and work. This means that an EU or one from outside of the EU must, first of all, have a job opportunity and certificate of sponsorship from a UK based company for a job that meets a necessary skill level, speak English to a B1 level and also meet several different criteria that are outlined in the new points-based system that enforces that an applicant meets certain mandatory and exchangeable points which you can learn more about here.

The fact that the skilled worker visa requires individuals to get evidence of sponsorship from a UK based company also means that companies need to appropriately obtain a Skilled Worker Visa Sponsor License. Under the old Tier 2 system, companies were also required to get a license of this sort however the process has been rebranded to suit post-Brexit immigration purposes and businesses and enterprises in the Uk must make new applications before they start to employ foreign nationals. Expert advice and guidance about such post-Brexit business immigration changes can be gained by speaking to legal experts such as Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors in London. They have decades of experience advising individuals and companies on UK immigration options and are well up to date and can inform you all about the most recent changes to the law after Brexit. It is only by seeking expert legal advice that one can start to plan ahead for the future whether you are an individual seeking a better life in the UK or a company seeking to expand and higher people from outside of the UK to fill certain skilled positions.