The UK’s points based immigration system – what employers need to know

The UK’s points based immigration system – what employers need to know

On 13th July the Home Secretary, Priti Patel set out further details on the UK’s new points based immigration system. Its aim is to ensure that only the “brightest and best” individuals come to the UK.

What is the new points based immigration system?

The new points based system will come into force from 1 January 2021, when freedom of movement within the European Union has ended. The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and will completely change the way in which migrants come to the UK to work.

Anyone coming to the UK to work as of 1 January 2021 will have to demonstrate that they are a “skilled worker” by satisfying the following points system:

  • Individual has a job offer approved by sponsor (20 points)
  • The job is at an appropriate skill level (20 points)
  • Speaks English at the required level (10 points)
  • Salary must be £20,480 – £23,039 (0 points)
  • Salary must be £23,039 – £25,599 (10 points)
  • Salary must be £25,599 or above (20 points)
  • There is a shortage of occupation (20 points)
  • Individual holds a PhD relevant to the job (10 points)
  • Individual holds a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (20 points)

Individuals wishing to work in the UK will only be granted a visa once they can demonstrate that they have 70 points or higher.

EU nationals who live in the UK and have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme will be exempt from the new requirements. However, all other EU nationals entering the UK after 1 January 2021 will be subject to the new rules.

Individuals will be able to apply for the skilled worker route from autumn 2020.

There are other options for individuals who are not considered “skilled workers” including:

  • Highly skilled workers: The Global Talent route currently open to non-EU citizens will be extended to EU citizens when the new system is introduced. This means that highly skilled individuals will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are a recognised or emerging leader in their industry.
  • Graduates: A new Graduate Immigration Route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. This will enable international students to remain in the UK and work at any skill level for two years after they have completed their studies.
  • Others: There are industry specific routes still being created, for example, the Government has announced there will be a fast-track route for health care professionals wanting to work in the UK.

What does this mean for employers?

If employers wish to recruit workers from outside the UK, they will need to apply to the Home Office to become an approved sponsor. The application process is estimated to take around 8 weeks, therefore, employers are urged to make their applications as soon as possible to avoid any disruption and delay in the New Year.

Employers will be required to submit a range of evidence to prove their credentials and must agree to abide by the Home Office rules on how to manage and monitor the process.

To be eligible to be an approved sponsor employers must:

  • Demonstrate that they have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration, fraud or money laundering offences.
  • Check the job meets the required skill level, this can be done here.
  • Consider what license they need. There are two options (i) Tier 2 for skilled workers with long term job offers and (ii) a Tier 5 license for skilled temporary workers. You can also apply for a license that covers both.
  • Appoint an individual who will manage the sponsorship procedures. These roles include an authorizing officer, key contact and level 1 user, the roles can be carried out by the same person or different people.
  • Apply and pay the required fee. The fee depends on the type of license and the type and size of your business. The fees range from £536 – £1,476, you can find more information here.

For more information on the UK points based immigration system, visit the Government website at www.gov.uk.