Despite the current Coronavirus crisis, the UK Government appears determined not to extend the transitional period with the EU beyond 31st December 2020.
This means that, from the 1st January 2021, all UK employers who wish to employ citizens of European Union and European Economic Area countries, who have not acquired Settled or Pre-settled Status in the UK or who are able by law to apply to do so by the 30th June 2021, will need to sponsor such new employees under the UK Sponsor Licence Scheme.
For UK employers who do not hold a Sponsors Licence, this will involve making an application to the Home Office for a Sponsors Licence, and thereafter going through the full Tier 2 sponsorship process to employ such foreign nationals.
For those UK employers who already hold Sponsors Licences, the existing Sponsorship arrangements will need to be followed for EU and EEA citizens who the employer wishes to employ, and who come within the new provisions.
The effect of this is that many UK employers who have not previously held Sponsors Licences will need to apply for such a Licence, and those who already hold a Sponsors Licence will need to use it extensively should they wish to recruit new EU and EEA workers who do not hold or cannot obtain settled or pre-settled status .
The Home Office has confirmed that it will be possible to make applications for Sponsorship Certificates under the new arrangements from Autumn 2020, so UK employers should be considering now whether they need to apply for a Sponsors Licence.