On 24 December 2020, the European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.. Content on the site is being monitored to reflect this and the changes.

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

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.

How will the new points-based system operate?

The new points-based system will apply to EU and non-EU nationals. Applications for a “Skilled Worker” visa can be made from 1 December 2020, although an applicant cannot enter the UK until on or after 1 January 2021. 

The applicant must meet the following criteria before they are able to obtain a “Skilled Worker” visa: 

(i) Have a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points). You can find out more about becoming an approved sponsor here

(ii) The job offer is at the required skill level (20 points). Generally, a job role must be at RQF Level 3 or above (which is A-Level or equivalent). 

(iii) Meet certain English Language requirements (10 points). 

Once the application meets the above mandatory criteria, they may score a further 20 points by meeting one of the following: 

(iv) Their salary is equal to or higher than both:

a. £25,600; and

b. The “going rate” for the job role (see below)

(v) The application has:

a. A PHD in a subject relevant to the job; and

b. A salary which is at least £23,040 or 90% of the “going rate” for the job role.

The sponsor must provide an “explanation” as to how the PHD is relevant to the job role. It is unclear at this time how that explanation is provided or assessed. 

(vi) The applicant has:

a. A PHD in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job; and

b. A salary which is at least £20,480 and 80% of the “going rate” for the job role

The sponsor must provide an “explanation” as to how the PHD is relevant to the job role. It is unclear at this time how that explanation is provided or assessed. 

(vii) The job is listed on the “Shortage Occupation List” and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the “going rate” for the job.

The Shortage Occupation List can be found here.

(viii) The applicant is a “new entrant” to the labour market and their salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 70% of the “going rate” for the job. 

(ix) The job is in a listed health or education occupation and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and the “going rate” for the job. 

Notes for employers:

1) All jobs have a Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. Each SOC code will have a designated skill level and “going rate” of pay. A full list of job codes and their “going rate” can be found here

2) Sponsors must pay an “Immigration Skills Charge” when employing workers under the new immigration system. This charge is either £362 or £1,000 per annum (for each worker) and varies depending on whether the company is defined as a small, medium or large company. 

3) The application will be online.

4) A “new entrant” includes applicants who are:

(i) Under the age of 26 on the date of the application

(ii) Working towards certain professional qualifications

(iii) Switching from certain student visas 

Further details on the Skilled Worker route can be found here .

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.

Will there be a low-skilled worker route?

The new immigration system will not include an immigration route specifically for “low-skilled” workers. Further information about immigration routes for those who do not meet the criteria set out in the post Brexit immigration system may be released in due course. 

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 offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A-level). 

There will also be certain English language requirements. 

The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600. 

If an applicant will earn less than £25,600 – 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. 

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

If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider making a Sponsor Licence application. Further information can be found here.

Low-Skilled Workers

There will not be an immigration route specifically for so called “low-skilled” workers. 

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

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. Applications can be made from 1 December 2020.

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 by 30 June 2021.

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