Free movement has ended, and the new points-based immigration system has salary and language requirements that change the way you hire from the EU.

The new system treats EU and non-EU citizens equally and transforms the way in which employers recruit from outside the UK.

You need a sponsor licence to hire most eligible employees from outside the UK. This does not apply to Irish citizens.

Some immigration routes, such as Global Talent, are ‘unsponsored’. You don’t need a licence to hire employees with an unsponsored visa.


The Home Office has created a podcast episode in partnership with Intelligence Squared to help you prepare for the points-based immigration system.

Listen now to Business and the future of immigration in 2021

A panel of independent experts from the world of business and immigration explain what the new immigration system is and the practical steps you can take to prepare. You can also listen on Apple and Spotify.

Download a full transcript of the podcast

How to become a sponsor

Before applying to be a sponsor you should:

  • check that the people you want to hire will meet the requirements for coming to the UK for work
  • check your business is eligible

To apply, you will need to:

  1. choose the type of skilled worker licence you want to apply for
  2. put appropriate systems in place to act as a sponsor
  3. apply online and pay the fee

People coming to work in the UK will need to meet certain requirements:

  • A job offer from an approved sponsor
  • That job offer must be at the required skill and salary level
  • They must speak English at the required level
  • You will need to apply to be a licensed sponsor
  • You’ll usually have a decision within 8 weeks
  • Being a sponsor allows you to recruit skilled workers globally for 4 years
  • Be prepared, apply now

Who you can hire as a sponsor

As a licensed sponsor, you will be able to hire eligible employees from anywhere in the world.

To hire someone from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, the job you are advertising must meet the minimum skill and salary thresholds:

  • the minimum skill level will be set at RQF3 (equivalent to A level)
  • the minimum salary threshold will be the higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for that job – some employees may be paid less than £25,600, for example if their job is in a shortage occupation
  • any applicants from outside the UK must also meet English language requirements

If the above requirements are met and you are a licensed sponsor, you will be able to sponsor their application to come to the UK to work.

EU citizens you already employ

The new system will not apply to EU employees already working for you in the UK.

EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Those eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme must apply by 30 June 2021.

Further information