Content is continuously being updated as negotiations develop.

The UK is introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021,
we’ve listed some of the main points.

  • From 1 January 2021, free movement within the EU will end and new immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 for applications to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021.
  • Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
  • If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK before 31 December 2020, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. When you apply, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric information.
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens Information: For most visas you’ll provide a digital photo of your face using a smartphone app. You will not have to give your fingerprints. For a small number of minor visa routes (to be confirmed later this year) you’ll need to go to an overseas visa application centre to have your photo taken.
  • Non-EU citizens Information: You’ll continue to submit your fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.

FAQs

What is a points-based immigration system?

Under a points-based immigration system points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.

Will EU citizens need a visa to visit the UK?

EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for a visa in advance.

EU citizens, along with citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the USA, Singapore and South Korea – with biometric passports – will continue to be able to use automatic eGates to cross the UK border.

What is the new skilled worker route (including salary requirements)?

A new skilled worker visa will prioritise migrants with the highest skill-levels and the most experience. Someone will be able to apply for this visa if they’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK by an approved employer sponsor.

The skills threshold for skilled workers to provide employers with added flexibility.

From January 2021, the job will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). They’ll also need to be able to speak English and pass criminality checks. The minimum salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600.

If a person earns less than this – but no less than £20,480 – they may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against their salary. For example, if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

What about highly skilled workers?

From January 2021 the global talent route will be opened up to EU citizens. The route has recently been reformed, removing the cap on numbers, increasing the number of endorsing bodies and rebranded to maximise the attractiveness of this offer.

In addition, the route has been expanded to include a new fast-track scheme for top scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

In line with the recommendations from the MAC, we 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.

Will there be a low-skilled worker route?

The new immigration system will not include an immigration route specifically for low-skilled workers. This will shift the focus of the UK’s economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation.

EU citizens resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can still apply to settle in the UK through the EU Settlement Scheme until June 2021. The Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme will also be expanded from 2,500 to 10,000 places recognising the significant reliance the agricultural sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.

What will change for international students and graduates?

Student visa routes will be opened up to EU citizens. A person will be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if they have been offered a place on a course, can speak, read, write and understand English and have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course.

A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK. They will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years.

Let’s Walk Through Different Visa Routes 

Skilled Workers

The points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor.

From January 2021, the job you’re offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). You’ll also need to be able to speak English. The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600.

If you will earn less than this – but no less than £20,480 – you may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against your salary. For example, if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

Details of how the points system will work are in the policy statement.

If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now.

Global Talent Scheme

The global talent scheme will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

Low-Skilled Workers

There will not be an immigration route specifically for low-skilled workers. The seasonal agricultural visa pilot scheme will be expanded – recognising the significant reliance this sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.

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.

Other Visa Routes

Short-term work visas in specific sectors (the current ‘Tier 5’) and investor, business development and talent visas (the current ‘Tier 1’) will be opened up to EU citizens.

Employer Information 

Information for employers on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK covering
right to work checks, the EU Settlement Scheme and the UK’s new immigration system

Checking an EU citizen job applicant’s right to work

You’ll need to check a job applicant’s right to work in the same way as now until 30 June 2021.

Until this date job applicants can prove their right to work in the following ways:

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can use their passport or national identity card

non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family members can use an immigration status document listed in the right to work checks employer guide

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members can use the online right to work checking service

If an applicant uses the online checking service this will generate a share code. You must then use the employers’ online service to check their right to work using this share code.

You have a duty not to discriminate against EU, EEA or Swiss citizens. You cannot require them to show you their status under the EU Settlement Scheme until after 30 June 2021.

Irish citizens will continue to prove their right to work in the UK as they do now.

New immigration system from 1 January 2021

A new immigration system will apply to people arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 and EU citizens moving to the UK to work will need to get a visa in advance.

EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor to be able to apply. If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now.

You can find more information on the UK’s new points-based immigration system on GOV.UK.

EU Settlement Scheme

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their family members who are living in the UK before 1 January 2021 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

You may want to share information with your employees about the EU Settlement Scheme using the employer toolkit.

Send us your questions and feedback