Today, the UK Government announced changes to its immigration policy, with the planned new system to come into effect on 1 January 2021 and as the free movement from the European Union comes to an end.
The primary focus appears to be engineered to attract skilled and highly skilled workers. Industries that rely on unskilled workers are likely to feel more restricted as there will be no transitional visa route for ‘lower-skilled’ workers. The government has also seemingly put an emphasis on a requirement for English language skills.
For most global mobility teams, the changes in regulations appears to support applications relevant to the skilled and highly skilled workers, who are normally the focus of most global mobility activity.
This comes with a cautionary note from immigration lawyers who have commented that there is now an additional level of administration being put upon the sponsoring company.
70 points required to be eligible to apply
Below is a summary of the key findings from the paper, as identified by a number of Gerson Relocation’s key immigration partners:
- The government proposes to suspend the annual cap on skilled work visas.
- There will be no requirement to offer positions to the resident labour market through advertisement.
- Sponsored workers will require a job offer from an approved sponsor.
- An appropriate required level of English is a pre-requisite.
- The minimum skill level is reduced from a university degree to A-level or equivalent.
- The standard minimum salary requirement would be £25,600, although the proposal is to provide flexibility with a points trading enabling those working in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List or who have PhDs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics to meet a lower salary requirement. The minimum salary would be £20,480.
- A total of 70 points required to be eligible to apply for a visa.
- It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy.
- Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
The UK Government details the breakdown of points and the ability to trade:
Offer of job by approved sponsor
Job at appropriate skill level
Speaks English at required level
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599
Salary of £25,600 or above
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
Source: UK Government
A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics are tradeable.
The most highly skilled, who can achieve the required level of points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body. This scheme has recently been expanded to be more accessible to those with a background in STEM subjects who wish to come to the UK.
Visa application process
New immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 for applications.
Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report
Many changes, such as the reduced minimum salary requirement, have been seen in the MAC report on salary points-based system and salary thresholds. You can read the full MAC report on the points based immigration proposal here.
The Migration Advisory Committee was established in 2007 and acts as an independent public body who advise the UK Government on immigration, serving as a bridge between the business world and government.