New UK points-based immigration system announced for skilled workers.

From 1 January 2021 the Home Office will introduce the new United Kingdom’s Points-Based System.

Skilled workers (Tier 2 General or previously known as a work permit visa)

The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system. All applicants, both EU and non-EU citizens, will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required skill level, and that they speak English. In addition to this, if the applicant earns more than the minimum salary threshold then the individual would be eligible to make an application. However, if they earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be able to come if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, as designated by the MAC, or that they have a PhD relevant to the job. In effect, applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a salary lower than the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ in their field.

The Home Office will suspend the cap on the number of people who can come on the skilled worker route and remove the resident labour market test. These changes will ensure that a wide pool of skilled workers will be able to come to the UK from anywhere in the world and the process will be made simpler and quicker for employers.

Characteristics Tradeable Points

Offer of job by approved sponsor No 20

Job at appropriate skill level No 20

Speaks English at required level No 10

Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0

Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10

Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20

Job in a shortage occupation Yes 20

Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job Yes 10

Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job Yes 20

A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics are tradeable.

For example, a University researcher in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject wishing to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000, (which is below the general minimum salary threshold), may still be able to enter the UK if they have a relevant PhD in a STEM subject. Likewise, a nurse wishing to come to the UK on a salary of £22,000 would still be able to enter the UK on the basis that the individual would be working in a shortage occupation, provided it continues to be designated in shortage by the MAC.

Highly-skilled workers (formerly known as Tier 1General or Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

From January 2021, The Home Office will extend the current Global Talent route to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. The most highly skilled, who can achieve the required level of points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body. This scheme has recently been expanded to be more accessible to those with a background in STEM subjects who wish to come to the UK.

Additionally, in line with the recommendations from the MAC, the Home Office will create a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system. This will allow a smaller number of the most highly-skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. This route would be capped and example characteristics for which points could be awarded include academic qualifications, age and relevant work experience.

Migrant journey from January 2021

1. EU citizens and non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the country when visiting. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for permission in advance. Those who come to the UK as a visitor will need to leave the country before making an application to another route.

2. For those who need a visa, migrants will make their application online. Most EU citizens will complete their application online, while non-EU citizens will continue to go to Visa Application Centres (VACs) to enrol their biometrics.

3. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, who possess biometric passports, will continue to be able to use e-gates to pass through the UK border either as a visitor or with prior permission. We will also unilaterally allow EU citizens to continue to use e-gates, but we will keep this policy under review. Others will need to see a Border Force officer.

4. Living in the UK. EU citizens will use the online checking service to demonstrate their immigration status and their rights and entitlements, where permitted, when accessing work and services in the UK. For many EU citizens, their status will automatically be available when seeking to access benefits or the NHS. Non-EU citizens will continue to use their physical documentation.

5. Leaving the UK after leave has expired, or not leaving at all when required to, will impact a migrant’s immigration status and will affect future interactions with UK immigration.