December 8, 2020

Brexit: What Does the New UK Immigration System Look Like?

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Brexit: What Does the New UK Immigration System Look Like?

A new UK immigration system was introduced on December 1, 2020. This comes ahead of the Brexit Transition Period closing at the end of the year. With applications now open, immigration rules under the new system will treat both European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals equally (Irish nationals continue to be exempt).  

To keep up to date on immigration developments, Cartus works closely with Fragomen, who releases regular immigration updates relating to Brexit, including the new UK immigration system: 

What the Experts Say

The new visa categories used by many international assignees relocating to the UK are similar to previous ones, with Tier 2 (General) now called Skilled Worker and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) now known as Intra-Company Transfer or ICT. Following are the key features of each: 

Skilled Worker Category 

  • Individuals applying must meet a minimum salary requirement of £25,600, although there are exceptions including those under the age of 26 years, anyone with a PhD in a related field, or if the job offer is in a shortage occupation.  
  • The Resident Labor Market Test—a 28-day advertising period to test the local market—has been scrapped. This reduces the burden on recruiters and the time it takes to apply. 
  • The required skill level has been reduced, allowing organizations access to a larger pool of talent. 
  • The 12-month cooling-off period and the six-year maximum length of stay have been removed, which means there is no restriction on when applications can be made or how long an assignee can stay.  
  • new Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (DCoSis requiredThe DCoS process sees applications being granted on a daily basis. This replaces the previous process that saw a panel meeting on set monthly dates. The new system should significantly reduce the time an application takes and in theory, applications could be granted within 24 hours. However, we will know the true timescales once the process is fully underway next year. 

 Intra-Company Transfer Category 

  • The category offers a maximum stay of five years and no route to settlement; however, visa holders may have the choice to switch to a Skilled Worker visa to potentially stay in the UK permanently. 
  • The cooling-off period, which previously prevented a person re-entering the UK on an ICT visa for 12 months after departing, has been removedFrom 2021, applicants are permitted to hold ICT leave for up to five years in any six-year rolling period, or up to nine years in any 10-year period for high earners. 
  • High earners must now have a minimum salary of £73,900, reduced from £120,000 under the old system. High earners are also exempt from having to work for the overseas business for 12 months prior to entry. 

immigration-law.jpgIn part, the new UK immigration system offers organizations more flexibility in that more occupational roles are eligible for UK visas and there is a more liberalized cooling-off period. For non-EEA nationals, the new system will also be quicker, but organizations should be mindful that UK immigration costs will now be higher for all employees.  

EU Settlement Scheme 

Citizens of an EU member country who have relocated to the UK before the end of 2020 may continue living and working there after the Brexit Transition Period has ended but should take the necessary action to protect this position by registering with the EU Settlement Scheme. It is recommended that impacted assignees register immediately, in case there are delays due to social distancing measures or public office closures during the holidays. 

The EU Settlement Scheme was introduced to confirm the residency of EU nationals and family members who have been living in the UK prior to January 1, 2021, when the UK’s involvement in free movement ends. Applications can be made on a smart phone app or a browser, and data is checked against tax and benefits records. Most applications take between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. People with five years’ residence are awarded settled status. People with less than five years are initially granted five years of pre-settled status. 

For more information on Brexit and immigration services, please visit 

© 2020 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved. This alert is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or give rise to an attorney-client relationship between you and Fragomen Worldwide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Worldwide. 

Working to Support You  

At Cartus, we continue to work closely with our dedicated network of suppliers, like Fragomen, to ensure that we’re prepared for the end of the Brexit Transition Period on December 31, 2020. In the meantime, should you have any questions or want to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact your Cartus representative or email us at 

Picture of Fabiana  Hershfield

Posted By

Fabiana Hershfield

About Fabiana

Fabiana has 20 years of experience in international assignment services, immigration case processing, and global supply chain management. She has also worked for multinational immigration law firms, serving them as Global Case Manager for a vast corporate client portfolio.

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