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The New UK Points-Based Immigration System

Today, the 19th February 2020, the government issued a policy statement on the UK’s points-based immigration system.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has commented on the policy saying:

“We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system.”

As part of a statement issued from the Home Office, the government stipulated that “employers need to adjust” and “move away from a reliance on the immigration system”. The Home Office suggested that employers invest in staff retention, productivity and technology.

How will the system bring migration down?

The new system will enable the UK to have full control over who comes into the country. Anyone wanting to come to live in this country will be treated the same whether they are EU citizens or not. The focus will be on only allowing those with the highest skill set.

What does the points-based immigration system do?

Essentially the system will not allow low-skilled migrants to come to Britain unless they are a farmworker who is performing seasonal work or are related to someone who is eligible for a visa.

What is a low skilled worker?

A low skilled worker is someone who performs a role that doesn’t need a high level of skill or education. Typically, when referring to “low-skilled” or “unskilled” workers, it is referencing people who wouldn’t qualify for the current Tier 2 visa. (Eligibility for a Tier 2 visa is listed here, including typically a salary above £30,000.)

What does the new points-based system involve?

The new points-based immigration system is only part of the wider changes that the Home Office on behalf of the government are planning to introduce.

The points system will provide flexibility for high skilled workers and enable them to trade certain characteristics against the salary requirements to enable them to increase their points. In order to be able to be eligible to apply to come to the UK to work a total of 70 points is required. The points can be from a combination of the below:

  • 20 points for a job offer; 
  • 20 points for the job being skilled (A-level or above); 
  • 10 points for speaking English; 
  • 20 points for salary of £25.6k or more; 
  • 20 points for working in a “shortage occupation”; 
  • 10 points for PhD; 
  • 20 points for a STEM PhD.

When does it start?

The new points-based immigration system will start from 1 January 2021, according to the current guidance.

Who will be affected by the new system?

  • All migrants, EU and non-EU, who wish to come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family.
  • Employers who rely on migrants to fill low-skilled positions such as care providers and hospitality roles.

A new scheme is being trialled for seasonal workers focusing on the agricultural sector.

In the interim, those employers that plan to sponsor EU workers need to start planning ahead now and not wait to see how the new systems evolve. 

Are you affected by the new points-based immigration system? For all of your employment and HR concerns, contact us for legal advice at 01432 278 179 and speak to Kate Wargen, Head of Employment & Client HR.

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