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.

  • New guidance issued by the Home Office on the 9th April, further explains and enforces plans to transform rules governing who can enter the UK for work from the beginning of 2021. The changes will impact employers who intend to hire workers from within the EU bringing an end to the free movement of workers from EU countries.
  • From 1 January 2021, free movement within the EU will end and will be replaced by a new Immigration system referred to as a Points-Based system. This will apply to people who want to work, study and live in the UK and will also include EU citizens (and EU, EEA/Swiss citizens).
  • Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
  • If you’re an EU 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.
  • EU citizens Information: Most people will be able to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme simply and easily through an online app. The type of status you receive, ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ will depend on how long you have been in the UK. Family members of eligible applicants who are not from the EU can also apply through the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • Non-EU citizens Information: The visa process to work, study or live in the UK for non-EU citizens will continue as normal. You will be required to submit your fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.

FAQs

What is a points-based immigration system?

Currently the UK operates a ‘tiered’ immigration system open to non-EU skilled workers at a minimum salary threshold or ‘high value’ exceptional talent applicants. ‘Tier 2’ visas are required for skilled workers with a salary of at least £30,000 per year. In order to hire a skilled worker from outside the EU, a business needs to become an approved sponsor in line with Home Office guidance. Although the current regime is also known as a ‘’points-based system’’, this is effectively in name only. The new points-based immigration system will implement a process whereby applicants will have to demonstrate that they have achieved a certain number of points before obtaining permission to work in the UK.

How will the new points-based system operate?

What is known so far. The new points-based system will be applicable to all non-EU nationals and EU nationals which to work in the UK and unable to apply through another visa category. To qualify all applicants will need to score 70 points:

– have a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points);

– the job offer is at the required skill level (20 points) and;

– meet the English language requirement (10 points).

Further points can be obtained through:

– salary (0 to 20 points);

– shortage occupation role (20 points) and / or;

-PHD educated (10 – 20 points).

Notes for employers:

For employers sponsoring skilled migrants, the process will be streamlined to reduce the time it takes to bring a migrant into the UK by up to 8 weeks. Migrants will make their application online and most EU citizens will enrol facial biometrics using smartphone self-enrolment; fingerprints will not initially be required.

– Non-EU citizens will submit biometrics as a Visa Application Centre, as they do now;

– Most EU citizens will be issued with an e-visa which confirms their right to be in the UK;

– Non-EU citizens, including those who are the family members of EU citizens will, for the time being, continue to be provided with physical evidence of their status;

– EU citizens living in the UK by 31st December 2020 are eligible to apply to the EU settlement Scheme and will have until 30th June 2021 to make an application.

The Home Office expects to treat EU citizens as non-visa nationals meaning they can come to the UK as visitors (including for business purposes (not employment) for 6 months without the need to obtain a visa).

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. eGates are automated self-service barriers which use the data stored in the chip in biometric passports to verify the user’s identity.

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.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues. MAC have recommended 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. The intention is to shift the focus of the UK’s economy away from a reliance on overseas labour 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