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News: What Visa Provisions will stay the same after BREXIT?

The UK left the EU  on 31 December 2020 to be exact. Many people were concerned about the changes to UK visas after Brexit. UK government officials have been promoting a new and fair UK immigration system post-Brexit and on many occasions referred to an Australian type point-based approach and there have been a number of positive developments and announcements made. 

We have outlined the main changes that have so far been announced by the UK Government to the Immigration Rules after Brexit.

Most of the post Brexit immigration categories for visas will remain unchanged. For ease of reference, the main ones are listed below:

  • Tier 1 (Investor) – Following the introduction of numerous changes in March 2019,  the Home Office have not so far announced any plans to rework the category any further and so we expect it to remain unchanged.
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) – this category no longer exists for new applications. It is only possible to apply for ILR at the end of the relevant qualifying period.  The category has been renamed the Global Talent visa route, however, most of the provisions from Tier 1 (ET) remain unchanged.
  • Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) – The new “skilled worker” route has been introduced and replaced this category. 
  • Tier 4 (General) student –  No changes are expected to the Tier 4 student visa
  • Tier 5 visas – We do not expect any changes to Tier 5 visas post-Brexit in 2021. There have been no announcements by the government or the Home Office to indicate otherwise. 
  • Innovator and Start-Up visas – Those categories were introduced in March 2019 following the closure of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route. The categories were introduced with a view of Brexit, so we do not really expect any further changes to follow. Moving forward it my be that the requirements are relaxed a little, as they are  overly restrictive. 
  • Sponsor Licences – Any employer who wants to sponsor a worker post-Brexit, both EU and non-EU nationals, will need to be an “approved” employer, meaning that they must hold a valid sponsor licence. 
  • Family Routes – We do not expect any upcoming changes to the family routes under UK Immigration Rules, those include applications for UK spouse visas under Appendix FM, Parent of a British/settled child applications, children of British/settled parents etc.
  • UK Ancestry Route – Again, no changes are expected.
  • EU Rules – Free Movement will end next year post-Brexit, so European Regulations will no longer be in force. The EU Settlement Scheme will still operate next year as it does now, and anyone eligible must apply prior to June 2021. 


Will EU Citizens Require UK Visa After Brexit?

It is important to note that the categories above will be open to EU nationals as well as non-EU nationals who wish to come and live in the UK after Brexit. The government has confirmed that there will be no separate provisions for UK visas for EU nationals - they will be on par with non-EU applicants and will need to qualify under the most appropriate route. The only exemption available for EU nationals is the ability to travel visa-free for tourist/visit purposes for up to 6 months.  


New Immigration Categories and Routes for Visas after Brexit

Now that we know that most UK visas will mostly remain unchanged after Brexit, with a few routes below being introduced. So, what are the new routes and visas that will come into effect following UK Brexit later this year? We will now consider them one by one:

1. Global Talent visa route – As mentioned above, the Global Talent visa route completely replaced Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) earlier this year. Global Talent visa route has been introduced to support the government’s vision of post-Brexit Britain. However, it is probably unfair to call it a “new” route, since most of the provisions and requirements were kept from its predecessor, Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent).

2. Skilled Migrant Worker visa route – This is a flagship route for workers who wish to be employed in the UK after the UK leaves the EU. The route will apply to both EU nationals and non-EU nationals. The Skilled Worker route has superseded the Tier 2 route. As with Global Talent visa route above, it is probably unfair to present the Skilled Migrant Worker visa route as a completely new route. Rather, it is an evolution of a Tier 2 route with a number of changes/simplifications.

To be sponsored under a Skilled Worker visa, the migrant will need to have an offer in place from an “approved sponsor” (i.e. a company with a sponsor licence), the vacancy must be at an appropriate skill level and the salary must be above the relevant threshold. Those familiar with a Tier 2 (General) visa probably had a moment of deja vu.

Three main difference are that there is no longer a requirement on employers to conduct a Residence Labour Market Test (“RLMT”), it will be possible to sponsor employees for lower-skilled occupations at RQF level 3 as opposed to a minimum of RQF level 6 under current Tier 2 provisions. Finally, the salary threshold has been reduced to £25,600 per annum for the majority of applicants, from existing £30,000 for “experienced” Tier 2 workers. 

3. Post Study Work Visa – UK Graduate Immigration Route. This is an exciting reincarnation of a long-forgotten post-study work visa route which was closed in 2012. The route will allow Tier 4 international students to remain in the UK for 2 years in order to find employment following graduation. The route will be available to students graduating from summer 2021 onwards and is a completely new UK visa that will be available after Brexit. While we do not have all the details of the new route yet, it is, nonetheless, a very exciting prospect for most students who will now have 2 years to find employment in the UK, as opposed to a couple of months they a being raced with nowadays. 


Overall, there is a lot to get excited about, the UK government seem to have finally abandoned their approach to bringing immigration under tens of thousands and Immigration Rules are being relaxed accordingly. The main drawback is, of course, an end to the free movement for EU nationals. It is, therefore, advisable for any EU nationals who plan to come to the UK next year or who are already residing in the UK, to consider preparing and submitting a settled/pre-settled status application to protect their rights of residence under very generous provisions that exist now. 


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Please see UK Border Agency website for up to date information. The information reflected above is correct at time of publication only.

(c) 2024 Gerald UK Immigration & Legal Services Ltd.