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How can visitor economy businesses protect their valuable EU workers?

Published on: 14/12/2020

The end of the transition period is almost here, and without a doubt, tourism and hospitality are two of the sectors that will be most affected by the new immigration rules. Traditionally, many tourism businesses have relied on EU workers, especially within the hotel industry. So, what must businesses be doing now to support this transition?

Calum Hanrahan, Specialist Immigration Lawyer at Wilkin Chapman solicitors, provides essential advice for businesses in our region, which may be facing issues as the EU exit looms. Here is his advice for protecting your valuable workers and your business beyond the transition period.


With 31st December fast approaching, local businesses reliant on EU workers must act quickly to ensure their valuable employees have secured UK residence, or risk losing them due to changes in the UK’s immigration system.

As has been widely reported, our exit from the EU will see the implementation of a new skills-based immigration system from 1st January 2021 - ending the free movement of EU workers and seeing EU and non-EU nationals being treated equally.

The previous Tier 2 (General) visa route for non-EEA nationals has now closed and has been replaced by the Skilled Worker route, with applicants required to score a set number of points in order to secure a visa.

Applicants will be awarded points for mandatory requirements such as receiving a job offer from a Home Office-approved sponsor, the job being at an appropriate skill level and meeting an English language requirement. 

Applicants will also receive points if their annual salary is £25,600 or above, or the ‘going rate’ for the specific job they have been offered. However, it is possible for applicants to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications against a lower salary to get the required number of points.

For employers, it is perhaps the salary and skill level requirements that present the most concern, as it is how EU nationals have historically filled thousands of lower-skilled jobs across the UK.

If you are running a business that could be affected or you have EU nationals currently working for you, you must act now to limit any damage their departure may bring to your organisation. Conduct an audit of the current EU nationals you employ and do all you can to make them aware of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

EU nationals and their family members who have been residents in the UK for less than five years will be granted pre-settled status, and those who have been resident for five years or more will be granted settled status.

Successfully applying to the EUSS will ensure the right to live and work in the UK without the need to apply for a visa under the new Skilled Worker route.  EU nationals, resident in the UK by 11:00pm on 31st December 2020 have until 30th June 2021 to apply.

For more on this and any other aspect of immigration law, Calum can be contacted on 01522 515954 or email For support on a range of EU exit topics, call 01522 846946 or email

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