New immigration rules 1 January 2021

The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, issued by the Home Office in October 2020, confirms the details of the new points-based system (PBS) of immigration for foreign nationals who wish to work and live in the UK post-Brexit.

From 1 January 2021, free movement rights will end for European nationals travelling to the UK and vice versa. New European and non-European entrants to the UK will be treated equally and subject to the same immigration control. Under long-standing existing arrangements, Irish citizens can continue to enter, live and work in the UK without permission.

Applications under the new system will open on 1 December 2020 for non-EEA nationals. EEA nationals will be eligible to apply under the new system from within the United Kingdom and for entry clearance from 1 January 2021.

Please refer to our detailed guidelines for recruiting managers.

What hasn’t changed?

Most existing economic routes into the UK remain largely unchanged with the exception of the current Tier 2 (General) route, which is being replaced by a Skilled Workers route.

NB. The relevant HR Immigration guidance page will be updated accordingly in due course.

The University will remain an approved sponsor and will be providing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The applicant must have an offer of a job from a licensed sponsor. The individual will have to apply for a visa to be able to live and work in the UK, and a total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply. The points, under the new PBS rules, will continue to be assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations; and visas are awarded to those who gain sufficient points. The applicant must speak English to an acceptable standard.

What has changed?

The Government has introduced a new element to the Skilled Workers route, whereby applicants will be able to “trade” characteristics such as a relevant PhD qualification (and especially if in a STEM subject) against a lower salary.

Overall, the changes reflect the expected liberalisation of the UK immigration system and reverses many of the restrictions that had been incrementally introduced over the last decade. For example, salary thresholds and skill levels for workers to qualify for sponsorship have been lowered; the resident labour market test has been abolished; the annual quotas on Certificates of Sponsorship have been abolished; the cooling-off period (where migrants had to wait 12 months before applying for another Tier 2 visa) has been abolished for Tier 2 General/Skilled Worker; the six year residence limit on Tier 2 General/Skilled Worker visas has been abolished so that permits can now be extended indefinitely; and more switching between visa routes is now permitted than ever before.

NB. The relevant HR Immigration guidance page will be updated accordingly in due course.


Please refer to the Brexit information for staff.

EEA nationals who are living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme for a valid immigration status, which will allow them to continue to live, work and study in the UK without restriction. Recruiting managers, as a transition measure, can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021. Further information on the EU Settlement Scheme are provided in the recent Staff Communications Hub’s article ‘EU Settlement Scheme - reminder to staff‘.

Who can I speak to for more information?

For anything not covered in these pages, please contact the HR recruitment team or your HR Business Partner/HR Manager.