Freedom of movement between the UK and EU ended on 1 January 2021 and the UK implemented a points-based immigration system. The system has skill, salary and language requirements that change the way you hire from outside the UK. This does not apply to Irish citizens.

The system allows UK employers to sponsor and recruit skilled workers from around the world through a variety of immigration routes.

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

The points-based immigration system does not apply to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens that were living in the UK by 31 December 2020. They may be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

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 processes in place to act as a sponsor
  3. apply online and pay the fee

You should allow 8 weeks for your sponsor licence registration to be processed. A licence will then be valid up to 4 years from the date of approval.

As a licensed sponsor, you’ll be able to hire eligible employees from anywhere in the world. Apply today.

Who you can hire as a sponsor

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
  • applicants must also meet English language requirements

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

Right to work checks for EU citizens

You should continue to accept valid passports and national identity cards of all EU citizens as evidence of their right to work in the UK up until 30 June 2021.

New guidance on carrying out right to work checks for EU citizens will be issued in advance of this date.

This does not apply to Irish citizens.



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

Further information