No ‘cooling off period’ for skilled workers relocating to the UK


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New guidance for employers that wish to recruit workers from abroad from next year has been published, but the long-awaited new immigration rules are still yet to be revealed in their entirety.

From 1 January 2021, organisations will need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.

The new guidance for employers outlines the requirements for employing foreign workers via the skilled worker and intra-company transfer route as well as other routes including the global talent route – aimed at “global leaders” in the fields if science, humanities, engineering, the arts and technology – and the youth mobility scheme.

Although light on much detail, immigration lawyer Chetal Patel from law firm Bates Wells said the clarification that there would be no “cooling off period” for those who relocate to the UK via the skilled worker route would be welcome news for many.

Under the current system, people who previously held a Tier 2 visa and have returned to their home country must wait 12 months before re-applying under the same, or another, visa category.

“With just over three months to go until our new points-based immigration system is fully operational and Home Office guidance being released sporadically, organisations are getting anxious,” Patel said.

“Historically, the cooling off period has caused a headache for many organisations and sponsored workers as workers but the latest published guidance clarifies the cooling off period which will be welcome news for many.

“Whilst this is positive news, as we are still waiting for the new Immigration Rules to be published, I would recommend organisations to hold off on fully celebrating these changes.”

Patel drew attention to the fact that some elements of the cooling off period would remain for those applying for the intra-company transfer route.

“These workers cannot remain in the UK for more than five years in any six year period. For high earner workers, i.e. those earning more than £73,900, they can remain in the UK for nine years in any 10 year period. Organisations will have more flexibility to transfer workers to the UK for multiple times.

“Subject to sponsored workers visa expiry dates, organisations may be able to avoid the cooling off period when the new system is up and running.”

Patel reminded employers that workers could apply for a work visa no more than three months before their intended start date in the UK.

“With the count down to 1 January 2021 in full swing, we’re eagerly waiting for news on when work visa applications can be made under the new immigration system. This date is critical so that organisations can plan for their recruitment needs in the new year.”

Recent figures suggested only 2% of firms are in a position to employ overseas workers next year.

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