The Speaker
Monday, 24 June 2024 – 08:12

What is the UK’s new points based immigration system?

The UK government has claimed that a new points-based immigration system will ‘open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world.’

Currently, there is a system of UK-EU free-movement for UK and EU citizens, but this will end on December 31, 2020, along with the transition period. From January 1, 2021, the new points-based immigration system will come into effect and will impact any non-UK citizens wishing to move to the UK. Under the new system, both EU and non-EU citizens will be treaty equally, according to the Home Office.


How Will The System Work?

In order for non-UK citizens to move to the UK for reasons other than visiting, they will need to apply for a visa. Most EU citizens will be able to complete visa applications online, while non-EU citizens will need to go to Visa Application Centres to apply and enrol their biometrics.

Visas will only be given to individuals who gain at least 70 points on the system. Points are awarded for a variety of qualifications and skills, but low-skilled workers will not be able to receive visas under the plans.

In order to be eligible for applying for a visa, applicants must first have been offered a job by an approved sponsor (worth 20 points), which is considered to be at an appropriate skill level (worth 20 points). They must also speak English to the required level (worth 10 points) and earn a salary of no less than £20,480. On the points system, this will give applicants 50 points.

Applicants then must also be able to gain a further 20 points. Points may be awarded under the system for meeting the following criteria;

  Number of Points
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 10
Salary of £25,600 or above 20
Offer in a job in a shortage occupation (as determined by the Migration Advisory Committee) 20
PhD qualification in a subject relevant to the job offer 10
PhD in a STEM (Science, technology, engineering and maths) subject relevant to the job offer 20


Other Key Points

  • If an applicant is granted entry to the UK, they will be able to be accompanied by their dependants.
  • Students will also be covered by the points-based system and will be allowed entry if they have an offer from an approved university or college, can speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies.
  • The most highly skilled who can still gain 70 points will be able to enter the UK without a job offer (worth 20 points) if they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body.
  • Those who are self-employed or freelancers may be able to enter the UK through the route of being an innovator under an unsponsored route which is set to be developed.
  • Artists, entertainers and musicians will still be able to perform at UK events and take part in competitions for up to six months.
  • Irish citizens won’t be subject to the new immigration rules and will continue to be able to live in and enter the UK.
  • The government is promising a fast-track visa scheme for foreign doctors and nurses to work in the NHS.


Who Is Considered To Be A Skilled Worker?

Under the new plans, the definition of skilled workers would be expanded to included those educated to the equivalent of A-Level standard, not just graduate level. Jobs including carpentry, plastering and childminding would be considered as skilled under the plans, while some types of farm work and waiting tables would not be classified as skilled.


What About Just Visting?

EU citizens and non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting for up to 6 months. At the UK Border, citizens of the EU, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, who have biometric passports will be able to continue to use e-passport gates. Other people will need to see a Border Force officer before crossing the border.


How Will EU Citizens Currently In The UK Be Impacted?

Citizens of the EU (except Ireland), Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland may need to apply to continue living in the UK after 31 December 2020. Anyone that may be impacted by this can find out if they need to take any action by using the tool on the government’s website here.


The government is continuing to develop and publish information on the points-based immigration system. The information in this article is understood to be correct at the time of publication, but should not be used as official advice. This article references points from the government’s policy paper on the UK’s point-based immigration system, which can be found in full here.


Photo Credit: Eric Fischer via Flickr under licence (CC BY 2.0) 

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