The post-Brexit points-based system for skilled workers explained
The UK government’s new points-based immigration bill, The Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill 2019-2021 to give it its full title, was voted through the House of Commons on Monday evening passing the vote by 351 votes to 252. The bill will now go on to receive further parliamentary scrutiny from MP’s and receive the royal assent which will enable the UK government to repeal EU freedom of movement rules and set out the new points-based system, which will enforce who can come to the UK and on what terms in the future.
On May 12th, 2020, the House of Commons released a report outlining the new bill and stated that if it passes through parliament and is enacted into UK law after all the necessary steps, the new rules will take effect from January 1st 2021.
The new points-based system will affect all aspects of UK immigration for those who want to live and work in the UK from January 1st 2021. There will be rules for all nationals who want to come to the UK, including EU nationals.
This article discusses the new points-based system, the necessary timeframes and important information related to you if you are seeking to come to the UK in the future or if you are an employer and you are assessing your options to employ foreign nationals within the new UK immigration landscape. We hope it is helpful.
How soon will the new points-based system take effect?
As stated above, the first stage of the new points-based system will be introduced from January 1st 2021; however, it is advisable to get organized before this.
The best thing to do if you are an individual and you think you will move to the UK in 2021 is to talk to an immigration lawyer in order to gain the most up to date advice on what developments have taken place.
If you are a business owner and want to employ foreigners to work for you in 2021, it is worth already applying for a sponsorship license to allow you to do this, so you are not left behind when the new rules take effect. Our legal team can advise you and file all necessary documentation towards your application.
Will all future immigration applications be decided using the new points-based system?
The new points-based system may be extended in the future to cover more and more UK immigration areas however when it starts it will affect two visa routes specifically that are related to working in the UK, and they are as follows.
-A new work visa for Sponsored Skilled Workers which will impact the Tier 2 (work visa) route where the government will introduce a new point test for applicants, a minimum salary required from a job, proof of certain skills and also clarify the number of visas available per year for this particular route.
-A new visa route for highly-skilled workers who do not have a job offer, details for this are still yet to be revealed from the UK government.
How can lower-skilled workers apply for a visa under the new points-based system?
At this stage, it is unclear how lower-skilled workers will fit into the UK government’s new immigration plan post Brexit. It may well be the case that a solution for lower-skilled workers is not decided for a while to come, which may leave a deficit for businesses who specifically need people to fill important lower-skilled jobs.
Our legal team advise that you stay up to date with important Home Office news surrounding this issue if you are an individual who is wanting to come to the UK to work in a lower-skilled job next year. If you are already in the UK and are specifically an EU national, you can remain in the UK to live and work by applying under the EU settlement scheme for pre-settled or settled status. For more information about that, click here.
How will self-employed workers and freelancers be able to get a visa under the new points-based system?
The UK government has stated that there will be no visa created specifically for freelancers or self-employed individuals to enter the UK. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to set up shop in the UK in order to set up a business, you will have to apply through the following routes.
The above visa routes are for those who are leaders in a specific professional field and are subject to approval from endorsing bodies after the submission of an acceptable business plan. Our legal team can advise and help you file your application and consult you on your business plan to see if it is in order.
Will businesses need a sponsor licence to employ EU nationals on work visas in 2021?
Yes, they will. Businesses and employers now will have to apply for sponsor licenses in order to employ EU nationals as well as foreign nationals. The UK government plans on making the process of applying for sponsor licenses more accessible and efficient; however, there have been no further statements on this as of yet.
How many points must a skilled worker have under the new system?
The new skilled worker visa category is part of the government’s new points-based system and will require an applicant to have at least 70 points which are gained by meeting certain criteria. We explain the distribution of the points below.
-0 points will be awarded if a job’s salary ranges from £20,480 to £23,039
-10 points will be awarded if a migrant speaks English
-10 points will be awarded if a UK visa applicant has a PhD degree
-10 points will be awarded if a job’s salary is between £23,040 and £25,599
-20 points will be awarded if the job has the proper skill level
-20 points will be awarded if an individual has a job, offer or sponsor
-20 points will be awarded if the salary for a job is over £25,600
-20 points will be awarded for a job that’s on the shortage occupation list
-20 points will be awarded if an individual’s PhD degree is in science, technology, maths or engineering
What points can be exchanged if they cannot be met?
In the skilled worker visa category, if an applicant does not meet 70 points in one combination, they may exchange certain criteria for others in order to the necessary amount of points. The skilled worker visa category allows for the following parts to be exchanged:
-Having a job offer with a salary of £20,480 to £23,039 (0 points)
-Having a job offer with a salary of £23,040 to £25,599 (10 points)
-Having a job offer with a salary of £25,600 or above (20 points)
-Having a job offer on the shortage occupation list (20 points)
-Holding a PhD in a subject relevant to the job offer (10 points)
-Holding a PhD is a STEM subject relevant to the job offer (20 points)
What points are mandatory?
The following parts must be met without fail in an application for a skilled worker visa.
-You must have a job offer from an employer who has a Home Office issued Sponsor license (20 points)
-You must have a job that meets the skill-level requirement (20 points)
-You must speak English to a required level (10 points)
In essence, every skilled worker visa applicant will need to meet all these requirements and thus will have 50 out of the minimum 70 points needed; you will then have to qualify for a further 20 points in a combination that is allowed.