The new points-based immigration system was introduced just over a year ago, at around the same time as free movement of EEA and Swiss workers ended. Skills shortages have been severe in certain sectors since then including hospitality, the care sector, food and drink, haulage and others (with COVID-19 worsening the impact for some) – and the Highlands has certainly seen its fair share of those challenges over the past year, as echoed by attendees at our recent Recruiting international workers webinar with Inverness Chamber of Commerce.

The new points-based immigration system may, however, provide a solution for some employers looking to source the skills that they need outside of the UK. The skilled worker visa route allows employers who are registered with the Home Office to sponsor medium and highly skilled workers. When the new points-based system was introduced (1 December 2020) the range of roles suitable for sponsorship approximately doubled. At the same time, the minimum salary requirements were reduced significantly (jobs above £20,480 may in some cases qualify for sponsorship). The process for sponsoring a migrant worker became more streamlined and quicker than it was before and due to some reduced costs for smaller employers, can be less expensive than some expect.

There are other visa solutions for lower paid or lower skilled jobs too. The Youth Mobility visa route enables individuals from certain countries to come to the UK for work, for up to two years. The new Graduate Route visa introduced in 2021 allows international students to spend two or three years working, once their studies are complete. The new British Nationals Overseas visa too, was introduced in 2021 and 88,000 had successfully applied by September 2021. Each of those visas allow work in lower skilled jobs and there are no minimum salary restrictions. So for employers experiencing difficulty recruiting, there may be visa solutions available that are worth considering.

This article originally appeared in Executive Magazine.