At 11 PM on 31 December 2020, freedom of movement between the UK and EU will end.
From January 1, 2021, the UK will no longer be part of EU’s Customs union and Single Market and all legal aspects of Britain’s membership will cease to apply.
There will be no change in Irish citizens’ rights to freely enter, work and live in the UK without permission.
This guide will cover what you need to know about your entry requirements if you plan to visit the UK in 2021.
Visiting the UK
Swiss citizens, EEA and EU nationals and other non-visa nationals will not be required to have a tourist visa when they enter the country and can stay for up to 6 months.
Until at least 2026, EU citizens will be able to use their identity cards to travel.
Crossing the border
Citizens of the USA, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and South Korea will be able to use ePassport gates to cross the border with a biometric chip in their passport.
It is likely for Swiss citizens, EU and EEA nationals to be able to use ePassport gates as well, but this will be kept under review.
Working in the UK
If you want to work in the UK, you must have a visa. A new points-based immigration system is going to come into effect. It will work in the interest of the whole of the UK, including Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally and the aim is to attract people who will contribute to the UK’s economy.
Who can apply for a UK visa?
Individuals of all nationalities can apply for a visa, except for British and Irish citizens. They should have a job offer and their employment should be sponsored by a UK employer, who is Home Office Licensed to work in specific occupations.
From the beginning of 2021, the job that you are offered should be at a required skill level of RQF 3 level (The UK’s Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)) or above. It’s important that you are paid the relevant salary threshold by your sponsor and speak English.
This will be either the going rate threshold for your job or the general salary threshold of
£25,600, whichever is higher.
If you earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, you may still be eligible for a visa if you can demonstrate that you have a job offer in an industry that is on the ‘shortage occupation’ list, or if you have a PhD relevant to the job.
Everyone who wants to apply for a “skilled work” visa should earn a minimum of £20,480 and it does not matter if you are working part or full-time.
If you want to earn the extra 20 points, you will even need to earn a higher salary than that.
The scheme will be opened to Swiss citizens, EU and EEA nationals. High-skilled scientists and researchers will be allowed to come to the UK without a job offer.
This new, fast-track visa scheme is aiming to attract the world’s top sharpest minds and talents – mathematicians, researchers and scientists.
International students and graduates
Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You’ll be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:
have been offered a place on a course
can speak, read, write and understand English
have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course. A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. You’ll be able to work or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years, or 3 years if you are a PhD graduate.
We are waiting for more details to be published by the government in due course. It’s expected that the new policy will lead to less immigration, but this depends on the strength of the economy in the UK, as well as the country of origin.