UK Government announces further details on future Points-Based Immigration System

The Government yesterday provided further guidance on the UK’s new-look points-based immigration system which will launch from 1 January 2021. This announcement builds on the policy statement which was released in February of this year.

Whilst we had anticipated greater detail on the new system, it appears the Government have provided very little new information. Nevertheless, we’ve summarised the 130 page document titled ‘UK’s Points-Based Immigration System – Further Detailswhich should be read in conjunction with our previous article which covered February’s policy statement which can be found here.

Skilled Worker Route

Existing Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Sponsor Licence holders will automatically be granted a new ‘Skilled Worker licence’ or ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ licence, with an expiry date which is consistent with the current licence and will also receive an appropriate allocation of Certificate of Sponsorships (CoS).

From 1 January 2021, EU and non-EU citizens coming to the UK for work, will ultimately need to meet the following mandatory criteria to be eligible for a visa under the Skilled Worker Route:

  1. Must have a job offer from a licenced sponsor.
  2. The job they will be performing must be at, or above, RQF Level 3.
  3. Must meet the English language requirement.

Meeting the above requirement will automatically score an applicant 50 points. They will then need to obtain a further 20 “tradeable points” – see below.

There does not appear to be a change to the criteria for those qualifying under the ‘new entrant’ salary threshold. New entrants will benefit from a 30% discount to the going rate salary for their profession, however, the minimum they will need to be paid must be at least £20,480.

The Resident Labour Market Test will be removed reducing processing times by at least four weeks.

Immigration Skills Charge levy will remain at the same rates – £1000 per year of sponsorship for large sponsors; £364 per year for charities and small and medium enterprises.

English language requirement rules will remain – individuals will need to demonstrate at least Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. EU citizens who will be applying under the new Skilled Worker Route will need to meet this requirement. Ireland and Malta will be added to the list of majority English speaking countries.

Intra-Company Transfers and Intra-Company Graduate Trainees

This category will allow multi-national companies to move their workers between subsidiaries. The category appears to be largely unchanged to the current rules i.e. £41,500 minimum salary is maintained, not subject to English language requirements, does not lead to settlement etc.

However, unlike the current ICT route, switching to the Skilled Worker route will be permissible providing the relevant points are met. It’s also satisfying to see that the “cooling off” rules will be adjusted – individuals must not hold entry clearance or leave to enter or remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five years in any six-year period, except where they qualify to be granted up to nine years on the basis of their salary.

Employers will therefore be able to benefit from a relaxation of the cooling-off period provisions allowing for more flexibility and ease with short-term assignments.

Skilled Work: Health and Care Visa

This is a new visa category within the Skilled Worker route for individuals in eligible health occupations – see below for current list (final list will be updated in line with the launch of the Skilled Worker route)

This route will see fast-track entry to the UK, reduced application fees, dedicated support throughout the application process and an exemption to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for main applicants and qualifying dependants.

Graduate Route

This is an unsponsored route which will launch in summer 2021. This route will be available to international students who have leave as Tier 4 (General) Student and who have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a UK Education Provider with a track record of compliance. Undergraduate and master’s degree students will be able to stay for two years, whilst PhD students will be able to stay for 3 years. Switching to work routes will be permitted providing they meet the required points.

Youth Mobility Scheme

The requirements for this visa remain unchanged to the current rules. The list of participating countries also remain the same – Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and Taiwan.

Preparation for Brexit

The Government’s message is still very clear – organisations who envisage hiring EU and non-EU nationals from 1 January 2021 should apply now to be approved as a Sponsor Licence holder from the Government. Our business immigration team can assist organisations with assessing whether an organisation is suitable to apply for a licence and also work with you throughout the process to becoming an approved Sponsor. Please contact our Head of Business Immigration, Sundeep Rathod if you require any assistance.