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Is your business ready for the end of free movement?

Updated: Jan 14


The United Kingdom officially left European Union (EU) on 31st January 2020 and from 1st January 2021, free movement ends and both EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally on an immigration leave. In other words, free movement between the UK and the EU will have ceased.


The Immigration Bill to switch off free movement for EU citizens passed its remaining stages in the House of Commons on 30 June 2020. New arrivals from EU countries, bar Ireland, will come under the adjusted Points Based System for non-EU migrants from the beginning of 2021.


With the end of free movement for EU citizens it is essential employers understand the changes in immigration requirements. Both non-EEA and EU nationals now need a job offer and a sponsoring employer in order to be eligible to reside and work in the UK. Whether a worker can secure an employment will depend on if they meet the points criteria under the new points based Immigration system.


  • whether employer holds a Home Office sponsor licence

  • whether the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)

  • whether sponsored worker speaks English.


Identifying whether a job meets the required skill level


All UK jobs have a corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. Relevant SOC code is identified for each migrant employee as per job description and appropriate skills set.

A total of 70 points is needed to be able to apply to work in the UK.


EU citizens already living in the UK


The new system will not apply to EU citizens already living in the UK before 31 December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and have until 30 June 2021 to make an application.


As a transition measure, employers 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.


As a responsible employer you should consider your recruitment requirements for 2021 and beyond very carefully. If you are anticipating the need to recruit candidates from outside of the UK (EU or non-EU workers) consider applying for a sponsor licence to enable you to recruit migrant workers. This is a lengthy process and can take anything up to 6 months to be finalized or in the current climate affected by COVID-19 and the aftermath, this could take even longer.


Responsible employers must ensure that employees have the right to work. Failure to comply would incur both criminal and civil penalties including fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.


How can businesses be ready for the end of free movement as well as help existing employees legally stay and work in the UK.


  • Review existing EU and non-EU workforce to determine future needs for your business

  • Apply for a Home Office sponsor licence

  • Assist existing EU workers securing settled status or pre-settled status under the EU

  • Settlement Scheme.


For expert immigration advice that you can trust please get in touch


We offer fast, efficient, easy-to -follow immigration and employment law advice looking at your best Brexit options and follow-up advice and legal services from applying for a sponsor licence, sponsor licence management services, settled status application service for existing EU citizen employees and HR staff training on sponsor licence compliance and reporting duties.



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