Hiring international talent in a post Brexit Britain

5 Mins

It has finally happened. The UK’s long-awaited departure from the European Union was f...

It has finally happened. The UK’s long-awaited departure from the European Union was finalised on 31st  December 2020 with the end of the transition period. Among the many changes this signifies for businesses and citizens in the UK, is the end of free movement in Europe. Freedom of movement is a principle and policy of the European Union that allows all European citizens to live, work and travel between member states as though they were one country.

Whatever your views on ‘Brexit’ the loss of the right to free movement is a blow to business. Many had hoped against hope that some variation would be negotiated into the Brexit deal to permit easier access to jobs and talent in Europe. As international recruiters, with a strong footprint in Europe, we are proud to work across borders to find the candidates that are best qualified for each role, not just those who are nearest. Freedom of movement gave our candidates the opportunity to work in Italy one month and Spain the next, with no more hassle than if they were working down the road. That freedom created not just a wealth of opportunity, but it also contributed to some richly experienced specialists.

Under new rules in the UK all hires from abroad will be subject to a points-based visa scheme. It will narrow the scope of who is allowed to live and work in the UK, yes, but more worrying is the possible deterrent to employers and candidates. The points-based immigration system is not prohibitive. Any candidate that speaks a good level of English and is offered a job paying more than £25,600, for which they must be educated to A-level standard or above, will be eligible for the skilled migrant route.

Given that the average salary in the IT industry is around £47,000, with entry level positions and most roles requiring some form of further education, these thresholds are no barrier. The greater hurdle is for businesses already tackling data and trading implications of Brexit to add another item to their list. However, becoming a Visa sponsor is a straightforward application that in time will more than pay for itself.

Employers wanting to retain their ability to hire international talent, will need to become licensed Visa sponsors by applying to the Home Office department of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This worker license will allow your business to sponsor skilled workers and intra-company transfers. The cost of the license is £536 for small companies, and £1476 for large companies. Additionally, for each sponsored worker you hire you will need to issue a certificate of sponsorship (£199 per certificate). Workers from some European countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, or Turkey) can be issued certificates without charge.

The UK ‘s departure from the EU and the end of free movement has implications for remote working/hiring too. Businesses established in England, Scotland, and Wales without any legal entities in European countries will be unable to make permanent remote hires with the same ease. This limits access to niche skillsets, favourable rates of pay, and diversity. You can still hire contract resource in Europe.

If you are looking for a cost-effective near shore solution our office in the Czech Republic means we are licensed for labour leasing and can support clients to continue to find talent this way by employing contractors through Sentinel.

There are other routes for migrants to work in the UK such as the Global Talent visa via Tech Nation visa, the youth mobility scheme and the start-up and innovator pathway. These niche visas provide a route for professionals to live and work in the UK without sponsorship from an employer. These are all highly selective.

Youth mobility Scheme: Non-UK citizens aged 18-30 and “will enable around 20,000 young people to come to the UK to work and travel each year.”

Start-up and Innovator: Innovator is open to those setting up an innovative business with industry experience and at least £50k funding. For this route applications can be for individuals or teams.

Tech Nation, Global Talent visa: The visa is open to founders and employees with technical or business backgrounds (this includes all sub-sectors of tech) and is valid for up to 5 years.

Sentinel is on hand to support businesses keen to retain access to international talent. Get in touch with us today to set up a consultation.

We will also be exploring the new routes to accessing international talent in future blogs. For now, visit gov.uk for more information on visa routes.