Skilled Worker visas for EU workers increased rapidly as lockdowns eased in the past year despite Brexit, according to Home Office figures analysed by Eversheds Sutherland.

The international law firm found that from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021 the number of Skilled Worker visas issued for EU citizens increased from 18 to 3,428, peaking in Q3 2021 at 3,698.

This increase was also tracked during Q2 and Q3 of 2021 when visas for these EU workers numbered 888 and 2,207, respectively. Skilled Worker visas issued also multiplied for other European countries from 342 in Q4 2020 to 926 in Q4 2021.


Less visa requirements 

“A combination of less onerous visa requirements and a need to address talent shortages have been driving this increase in demand for skilled workers from the EU. But for this trend to happen there also has to be interest from the talented workers themselves. These figures show that the UK remains an attractive place for people from the EU – and outside of it – to come and work,” says Partner in employment and immigration at Eversheds Sutherland, Audrey Elliott.

Eversheds Sutherland analysis also found that a total of 25,555 Skilled Worker visas were granted in Q4 2021 alone for workers across the globe– a 131 percent year on year increase (Q4 2020, 11,047).

Whilst figures for EU workers are not available per sector the industry bringing in the most Skilled Workers from overseas was Human Health and Social Work, which recruited 29,128 people on Skilled Worker visas in 2021.

This reached its highest levels yet in Q4 2021 at 8,990 – a 48 percent year on year increase (Q4 2020, 6,064).

“Many UK businesses see talented people leading them out of the pandemic and through the uncertainty the global economy finds itself in. Sponsorship licences are now a valuable tool for businesses and getting, then using, them to get overseas talent through the door is a key part of running successful business,” adds Mr Elliot.

“On the other side of Brexit there is an additional cost, but with the range of visa options made available recently – and the list growing – businesses seem willing to pay the price to improve their resilience for the present and the future,” says Mr Elliot.


Health and social work industry

Mr Elliot says: “This search for overseas talent can be attributed to a number of things, but especially for the health and social work industry the pandemic and Brexit has had a significant influence on increased need for overseas talent.

“To give context of scale in 2010, the health sector used the fourth highest number of Skilled Worker visas across industries. In 2021, it used almost as many Skilled Worker visas as IT, professional services and financial services put together (30,559 vs 29,128).

“On the other side of Brexit, the importance of talent to economic recovery and the ease of getting visas mean that recruiting skilled workers through immigration will be an essential part of business strategy.”








Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.