The UK has introduced a point-based system that will be implemented from the 1st of January 2021 once the free movement ends.
The new points-based immigration system will treat both EU and non-EU citizens equally. Also, it will transform the way in which people from other countries who come to study or work in the UK are currently treated.
For instance, anyone coming to the UK will now have to acquire a permit in advance except for Irish nationals.
Those who wish to come to the UK for work must meet certain requirements that will help them earn points. Visas will be granted to those who successfully fulfills the minimum points requirement.
Apart from that, the points-based system will enable employers to hire skilled workers from all over the globe through different immigration routes.
This comprehensive guide provides a detailed overview of what this new immigration law has in store for the potential visa applicants and immigrants. Also, we’ll try to answer some of your queries in our ‘FAQ’ section you can see at the end of this post.
So without any further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Content
- EU Citizens Living in the UK by 31st December 2020
- Criteria for Skilled Workers
- How Many Points Do You Need to Apply for the Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?
- Immigration Skills Charge Explained
- Global Talent Visa
- Intra-Company Transfer Visa
- Graduate Visa UK
- Startup and Innovator Visa
- Creative Route
- Health/Care Route
- Youth Mobility Scheme
- New UK Immigration System 2021 – FAQ
EU Citizens Living in the UK by 31st December 2020
Notably, the new immigration system will not be applicable to those who’re living in the UK by 31st December 2020.
They will be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for themselves and their families until 30 June 2021.
Employers, on the other hand, can continue to acknowledge the passports and national identity cards of the EU citizens, which will act as evidence of their right to continue work until the stated time period.
In addition, some EU citizens, especially those who’re using an online service to check their right to work in the UK, may choose to evidence their rights using the digital status assigned to them by the Home Office.
If you’re looking to demonstrate your rights using a digital approach, all you need to do is to get the shared code from the service.
Criteria for Skilled Workers
If you’re an employer looking to recruit labour from outside the UK, you’ll have to acquire the status of the Home Office licensed sponsor.
By having this status in hand, employers can hire workers from anywhere in the world.
Those who wish to come to the UK as skilled workers have to demonstrate the below-mentioned things to get started.
- They already have a job offer from an acknowledged (Home Office licensed sponsor) employer
- The job offer the person has meets the required skill level
- Their English language proficiency is up to the desired standards
- The job offer must fulfill the minimum required salary threshold set by Her Majesty’s Government
- All job applicants will be eligible to trade characteristics. For instance, they can trade their qualifications against a low salary bracket to acquire the desired number of points
- If the offer they have currently in hand is less than the minimum salary threshold (not less than £20,480), a person can still apply if:
- they have an offer in any particular shortage occupation
- A PhD relevant to the job
- A PhD in a STEM subject
Some occupations, including health and education, have different salary rules. You can check out the UK Points-based Immigration System (Annex E) to get further information about the ‘going rates’ of some specific occupations.
How Many Points Do You Need to Apply for the Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?
According to the new points-based immigration system, a person willing to work in the UK must at least hold 70 points. There are 9 characteristics in total comprising both tradeable and mandatory aspects that you have to follow to be eligible to receive the work permit in the UK.
These characteristics include:
- Job offer by a sponsored employer (20-points)
- Job offer relevant/appropriate to skill level (20-points)
- Language proficiency (10-points)
- Salary of £20,480 – £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate assigned for the particular occupation (whichever is higher) (0-points but this characteristic is tradeable)
- Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate assigned for the particular occupation (whichever is higher) (10-points)
- Salary of £25,600 or at least the going rate assigned for the particular occupation (whichever is higher) (20-points)
- Job offer in a shortage occupation (20-points)
- PhD in a discipline relevant to the job (10-points)
- PhD in a STEM subject (20-points)
All available jobs will have a corresponding SOC code, which includes a designated skill level. This approach helps identify whether the specific job fulfills the needs of the skilled worker route.
You can check out the complete list of SOC codes for different jobs in the Policy Statement published back in July 2020. Since these codes are subject to change, it is suggested that you keep an eye on the statement to keep yourself updated with the latest changes.
Immigration Skills Charge Explained
ISC, also known as Immigration Skills Charge, is a fee an employer needs to pay for each skilled worker they hire using the Skilled Worker/Intra-company Transfer routes.
Once the Free Movement ends, you have to pay the ISC for hiring both EU and non-EU skilled migrants.
As an employer, you’ll have to pay £1000 per skilled worker for the initial 12-months period with an extra £500 for each additional 6-month period. Charities and small businesses will be entitled to receive a discount as well.
Global Talent Visa
The Global Talent Route will be accessible for EU citizens from January 2021. This will enable highly skilled individuals to enter the country without a job offer provided they’re acknowledged by a certified UK body.
Also, an employer doesn’t need to have a sponsored license to hire a worker under the Global Talent route.
This route is specifically designed to attract talented individuals working in the space of Science, Digital technology, Arts, and Engineering.
In addition, scientists and researchers can also benefit from a fast endorsement process to expedite their application process.
Intra-Company Transfer Visa
The Intra-company Transfer visa enables multinationals to run and expand their business in the UK by having their trusted personnel from other countries. This option will need visa applicants to be either Graduate level equivalent or skilled to RQF 6.
Graduate Visa UK
The Graduate Entrepreneur Visa route will be accessible to those international students who have completed a degree in Britain from Summer 2021.
This route will facilitate those foreign students who want to stay in the country after completion of their study and work at any skill level for 2-years.
However, students who have completed their PhD in the UK from Summer 2021 can stay in the country for up to 3-years.
Because of the Graduate route, students who have excelled in their respective fields will be entitled to secure skilled jobs in the UK.
Startup and Innovator Visa
The Startup and Innovator Visa UK is an ideal option for those talented individuals who already have a feasible business plan in hand. Startup visas will be granted to those who want to start their business in the UK from scratch, while Innovator visas are for those who’re already acknowledged as industry experts and hold a minimum of 50,000 funding to start their business in the UK.
Both individuals and teams can apply for this route. Also, both EEA and non-EEA citizens can benefit from this option.
The creative route is designed particularly for those creative individuals who want to visit the UK on the basis of short-term contracts. To apply for this visa type, applicants must have a job offer in hand, and the employer must be a licensed employer.
This particular visa category is a subcategory of the Skilled Work Visa route. It will enable healthcare specialists or other people working in the healthcare departments to come to the UK and offer their services. To be able to apply for this visa type, the applicants must hold a job offer letter from either the NHS or any other concerned organisation/department that provides services to the NHS.
Youth Mobility Scheme
Young applicants can benefit from the Youth Mobility Scheme to enter the UK for work.
New UK Immigration System 2021 – FAQ
Q: The UK already has a points-based system. What is the difference between the old and new points-based systems?
A: The present points-based system involves various other categories and subcategories. Despite the fact that it is referred to as the ‘points-based system’, each category comes with its unique requirements.
The new points-based system will enable applicants to trade points. However, nothing significant is changing in the upcoming system as well.
Q: What is a Skilled UK Visa?
A: The Skilled Work Visa category will replace the current Tier 2 Visa route. To apply for the Skilled Work Visa, the applicant needs to have a job offer, the job must be at a specific skill level, the minimum salary threshold requirement must be met, and the applicant must fulfill the language requirements.
Q: What types of jobs will qualify for the Skilled Visa category?
A: To qualify for the Skilled Work Visa category under the new immigration system, the job needs to be at or above RQF 3.
Q: What salary do I have to pay to the workers I hire under the Skilled Visa scheme?
A: To hire someone under the Skilled Work Visa Category, an employer will have to pay the minimum salary or at least the ‘going rate’ (whichever is higher).
Q: Does the abolition of the resident labour market test mean we can now sponsor an international citizen even if we could find an appropriate match in the local talent pool?
A: The resident labour market test will not be applicable under the new system, meaning you can equally consider all applicants regardless of immigration status.
Q: Can we also hire our friends after the abolition of the resident labour market test?
A: Apparently, yes. But, we suggest you take the opinion of an immigration lawyer before you proceed with this action.
Q: How much the Skilled Work Visa Category cost?
A: You’ll have to pay the same fee as you have had to pay for the Tier 2 General Visa category. The health surcharge, however, has been increased from £400 to £624 in October.
Q: How will the application process work and how long will it take?
- Apply for a CoS
- Take the English language/Tuberculosis test
- Submit an online application and book a biometric appointment
- The standard processing time is 3-weeks after the biometric is done.
Q: How the new immigration system will affect the intra-company transfer visa?
A: The Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa category is now renamed as an Intra-company Transfer visa. The requirements are more or less the same as earlier.
Q: How will the post-study work visa for foreign students work?
A: A new Graduate Visa Category will be introduced in Summer 2021. This visa category will be the same as the Post-Study Work visa abolished in 2012. The Graduate route will enable international Graduates to enter the country and work there for 2-years.
Q: What is ESTA?
A: The Home Office plans to introduce a system of ETAs between 2020 and 2025. This option will assist individuals who’re visiting the UK but do not already hold a visa.
Q: What about other visa routes?
Almost all visa routes are already included in the new immigration system. Some of them are now renamed, while some come with a little adjustment in the requirements.
Q: What preparations do I need to make to qualify for the new immigration system?
- A: If you’re an employer, you should apply for the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Ask your EU citizen staff to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme
- Make up your mind for elevated visa costs
- Consider switching workers who have Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Visa to Skilled Work Visa route so that they can apply for the ILR after some time