Employers are urged to apply immediately for a permit to sponsor foreign workers once unrestricted movement is abolished.

Under the new immigration system planned to kick in from January 2021, the minimum skill level needed to be sponsored for a general work visa will be reduced from RQF level 6 to RQF level 3. This means that jobs which are considered to be A-level standard can be sponsored, instead of the Bachelor’s degree qualifications which are required now.

Organisations that don’t use the sponsorship system at the moment but think they are likely to be recruiting overseas workers at this lower skill level next year can apply now for a sponsor licence. In an update to the sponsor guidance, the Home Office has added a new Annex 9 aimed at businesses that want to get their applications in ahead of time. It states that:

You must meet all of the requirements set out in this guidance, except the current requirement to offer employment at RQF6 or above.

The application process will therefore be largely the same as it used to be previously. The organisation will still need to meet the eligibility and suitability criteria, apply on the same online form and consult Appendix A for the supporting documents. But they will only need to show they can offer “genuine employment skilled to level RQF3 or above”, rather than RQF6 as today.

Appendix A has been largely unchanged, so sheds little light on what exactly proving this entails. Annex 9 says that “further information on this will be provided later in the year”.

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