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New Points-Based System for Non-UK Skilled Workers

The UK Government has today (13 July 2020) published details regarding its phased UK Points-Based Immigration System from 1 January 2021.

The Points-Based System will work in the interests of the whole of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The UK Government will maintain the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangements between the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey) after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020).

Skilled Worker

From 1 January 2021, anyone arriving in the UK for work, including EU citizens, will need to demonstrate they meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points.

Applicants must meet the following mandatory criteria in addition to passing the relevant UK criminality checks:

  • The applicant must have an offer of a job from a licensed sponsor
  • The job must be at or above the minimum skill level: RQF3 (Regulated Qualifications Framework 3) level or equivalent (A-level or equivalent qualification). Workers will not need to hold a formal qualification. It is the skill level of the job they will be doing which is important
  • The applicant must speak English to an acceptable standard

Tradeable points

Meeting the mandatory criteria above will earn the applicant 50 points; they must obtain a further 20 “tradeable” points through a combination of points for their salary, a job in a shortage occupation or a relevant PhD.

If the applicant is paid the higher of the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the “going rate” for their particular job, they will receive an extra 20 points.

There is scope to earn the required extra tradeable points if the applicant is paid less than the general threshold or the going rate, provided they are paid at least £20,480.The applicant may earn points if they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation (as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee) or a PhD qualification relevant to the job.

There are also different minimum salary rules for workers in certain health or education jobs, and for “new entrants” at the start of their career. The salary requirement for new entrants will be 30% lower than the rate for experienced workers in any occupation, although the minimum of £20,480 must always be met.

The UK Government will retain the ability to widen the number of attributes that will score tradeable points to enable it to meet the needs of the economy. However, the mandatory requirements will not be tradeable.

A person who has at least 80% or 90% of the relevant salary for their occupation (whether that is the £25,600 threshold or the going rate), and therefore scores 0 or 10 points for their salary, could make up the points elsewhere by scoring points for another attribute; for instance: working in a shortage occupation or having a relevant PhD.

The Going Rate

These rates are based on the 25th percentile of earnings in the UK data drawn from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) which is updated annually by the Office for National Statistics, normally at the end of October.

Skilled workers are entitled to the same minimum rates as other UK workers, although the salary thresholds for some occupations may change between now and the new route being launched.

Who Can Visit The UK?

At the end of the transition period, free movement will end, and EU citizens will be required to adhere to the new immigration system.

The UK Government wants to ensure legitimate travellers who support the UK economy and enrich society and culture can continue to come to the UK smoothly in the future.

In most cases, visitors will be able to come to the UK for up to six months. A visitor may enter the UK multiple times during that period, but they may not live in the UK by means of repeat or continuous visits, nor will they be able to work or access public funds. Currently, they may not study for more than 30 days.

The UK’s visitor rules already permit a wide range of activities, in addition to tourism and seeing family, that visitors can undertake. Business personnel can travel to the UK for meetings and to negotiate and sign business contracts; leading academics can present their latest research; or scientists, for example, can share their knowledge with colleagues on international projects.

People employed overseas can come and support companies who have bought goods from their company or to collaborate with a UK business which is supplying their employer overseas. The UK Government will continue to engage with stakeholders to further understand how the visitor rules can be improved and simplified.

Who Can Apply?

Anyone can apply to visit the UK. They must either apply for a visa before arrival or seek leave to enter at the UK border. Visa nationals can apply anywhere outside the UK. Non-visa nationals (citizens of countries not listed) can apply at the UK border. The UK Government is intent on enabling EU and Switzerland citizen to visit the UK without a visa.

To review the full published rules and guidance on Gov.UK, please click here.

Main information source: Gov.UK