Employing EU citizens in the UK: are your processes ready for the change?

We’re less than one week into 2021, and there’s already been a significant change – but this time, it’s to do with Brexit and how you recruit EU citizens.

From 1 January 2021, freedom of movement between the UK and EU ended. What does this mean for recruiting EU and non-EU citizens? Let’s find out.

The new UK immigration system

The UK now has a point-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizen equally.

Under the new immigration system, anyone coming to the UK for work must first obtain a visa by meeting specific requirements that are point-scored.

The UK Government believes this system will “provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for UK employers to recruit skilled workers from around the world through a number of different immigration routes.”

Employing EU citizens already living in the UK by 31 December 2020

EU citizens that were already living in the UK by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Until this time, you can continue accepting passports and national identity cards as evidence of an EU citizen’s right to work in the UK. Alternatively, and from 1 July 2020 onwards, you can use the Home Office right to work checking service.

Employing EU citizens not living in the UK by 31 December 2021 and non-EU citizens

EU citizens not living in the UK by 31 December 2021 and other non-EU citizens can work in the UK through one of ten main routes, including:

The Skilled Worker route

The Skilled Worker route allows candidates with different qualifications, skills and salaries to obtain a visa.

Under the Skilled Work route, candidates need 70 points to apply to work in the UK, based on meeting the following criteria:

  • Job offer by a Home Office licensed sponsor (mandatory) = 20 points
  • Job at appropriate skill level (mandatory) = 20 points
  • Speaks English at required level (mandatory) = 10 points
  • Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher) = 0 points
  • Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher) = 10 points
  • Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher) = 20 points
  • Job in shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee = 20 points
  • PhD in a subject relevant to the job = 10 points
  • PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job = 20 points.

If you employ a candidate under the Skilled Worker route, you must pay £1,000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months of employment, and £500 every six months after that (discounts apply to charities and small businesses).

You can find out more about becoming a licensed sponsor here.

Global Talent route

The Global Talent route allows highly skilled workers in science, engineering, humanities, digital technology and the arts to get a visa and enter the UK without a job offer. You can then employ them without being a Home Office licensed sponsor.

Under the Global Talent route, a recognised UK body approved by the Home Office must endorse the individual. Currently recognised bodies include:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine.
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering.
  • The British Academy, for humanities.
  • UK Research and Innovation, for science and research.
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology.
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture.

Graduate route

Anyone completing a UK degree or PhD from summer 2021 can remain and work in the UK (at any skill level) under a Graduate Visa for two years following their degree and three years following their PhD.

Other visa routes

Other routes to hiring EU and non-EU citizens include:

  • Intra-company transfer
  • Start-up and Innovator
  • Health and care visa
  • Creative route
  • Sporting route
  • Seasonal Workers Pilot
  • Youth Mobility Scheme


Need help?

If you need help recruiting EU and non-EU workers this year, get in touch and we’ll happily and advice and help you through the process – allowing you to widen your candidate pool and attract greater talent.


About Profile Resourcing

Profile Resourcing is a Milton Keynes-based recruitment practice helping businesses find talent across the country and world for their vacancies.

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