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The new immigration rules: deadlines you need to know

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The UK’s new immigration system will come into effect on 1st January 2021 and will apply to both EU citizens and non-EU citizens. This means that citizens of EU member states (with the exception of Ireland) who want to move to the UK on or after 1st January 2021 will require a visa to live, work or study.

There are many consequences for both employers, workers, and families of EU citizens. There are also several important deadlines that you must make a note of if you are an EU citizen living in the UK, or you plan to move to the UK in the near future. In this article, we set out the important deadlines you need to know.

If you are an employer…


If you wish to recruit skilled workers from outside of the UK from 2021 onwards, you should submit a sponsor licence application as soon as possible. There has been a surge in applications recently, and to ensure you can recruit the workers you need, you should make an application right away.

31st December 2020

If you employ overseas workers before the 31st December, their employment will fall under the withdrawal agreement, and you will not require a sponsor licence to continue to employ them.

1st January 2021

From 1st January 2021, you will require a sponsor licence to recruit workers from overseas.

If you already live in the UK…

30th June 2021

If you are a citizen of an EU country or a country in the EEA or Switzerland, and you have been living in the UK before 31st December 2020, you can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to allow you to continue living in the UK after 30th June 2021. Your family members may also make an application.

You may continue to use your EU country passport or identity card as proof of your immigration status until 30th June 2021, and this must be accepted by landlords, employers and public service providers until this date. unless they have prior knowledge that you are not eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme.

31st December 2025

The UK government has stated that they will continue to recognise the identity cards of EU citizens resident in the UK before the end of the transition date (31st December 2020) for the purposes of travel, until at least 31 December 2025. EU citizens and their families wishing to travel using identity cards must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, have a frontier worker permit, be an S2 Healthcare Visitor or be a Swiss Service Provider.

If you are planning to move to the UK…

1st January 2021

If you are planning to move to the UK on or after 1st January 2021, you will require a valid immigration status to live, work or study. You will also need a visa before you travel to the UK.

If you are coming to the UK to work, any job you are offered must meet certain requirements, and your employer must have a sponsor licence to employ you. You can find out more about the necessary requirements on the government website [or by speaking to our immigration team]

The new immigration system covering immigration routes for those wishing to move to the UK on or after 1st January 2021 has now opened, and visa applications under these categories can now be submitted.


For expert immigration law advice for you, your business or organisation, please call Catherine Maclay on 01205 315337 or email