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Points Based Immigration System

As an employer, you should be aware of the new points-based immigration system coming into effect on 1 January 2021 that may impact on the recruitment of migrant workers.

The new UK points based system will take effect from 1 January 2021, once freedom of movement with the European Union (EU) has ended.

The New System

The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now. Anyone coming to the UK to work, excluding Irish citizens, will need to apply for permission in advance.

Under a points-based immigration system, anyone coming to the UK for work must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.

The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for UK employers to recruit skilled workers from around the world through a number of different immigration routes.

EU citizens already living in the UK

The new system will not apply to EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and have until 30 June 2021 to make an application.

As a transition measure, employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.

Skilled Workers

From 1 January 2021, if you want to recruit workers from outside the UK’s resident labour market, you will need to be a Home Office licensed sponsor. This will enable you to recruit workers from anywhere in the world.

Under the new skilled worker system, anyone coming to the UK to work will need to demonstrate that:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
  • they speak English to the required standard

In addition to this, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:

  • the general salary threshold set by Her Majesty’s Government on advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee at £25,600, or
  • the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the “going rate”

All applicants will be able to trade characteristics, such as, their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the required number of points. If the job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement, but no less than £20,480, an applicant may still be eligible if they have:

  • a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • a PhD relevant to the job
  • a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

There are different salary rules for workers in certain health or education jobs, and for “new entrants” at the start of their careers.

Further information and exemptions can be found in Annex E of the UK points-based immigration system: further details statement

Becoming an Approved Sponsor

You need to apply to be a sponsor if you want to recruit workers from outside the resident labour market from 1 January 2021. Until then current immigration rules will apply.

The standard processing time for an application is usually eight weeks and will start when your application is received.

See becoming an approved sponsor for more information