After many months (even years) of speculation, the government has revealed initial details of what the new points based system will look like when we come to the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.
The most important take away is the effect on EU nationals, who will, once the transition period ends, find that their stay in the UK is limited. They will need either to regularise their immigration status, if they have not done so already, or leave the UK, unless they are coming here for a short visit or holiday. Freedom of movement will definitively end on 31 December 2020, at which time EU nationals will become subject to immigration control in the same way as non EU nationals are now.
What are the key points of the new system outlined in the policy statement?
All applicants will need prior approval to come to the UK to work, and to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (a work permit) to allow them to take up a post in the UK. They will need to score a minimum of 70 points in order to qualify to work in the UK –the first 50 points must be met by all applicants who must have:
The minimum salary requirement has been reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 p.a. but if the role is to be undertaken by an applicant who meets the ‘new entrant’ definition (this includes international students and those aged 26 or under), the salary requirements will be lower. It will also be possible to ‘trade’ points for roles paying a salary of between £20,480 and £25,600 p.a. if the role is a ‘shortage occupation’ (e.g. nurses or roles within the tech industry), or if the individual has a PhD relevant to the role.
Other important take-aways include:
In view of the changes, what do employers need to think about and prepare now?
There’s not much time! These changes are coming in within the next 10 months, so employers need to focus on recruitment needs and assess what will be required over the coming years, in order to ensure they have the personnel they need in place by the required time. There is now a clear vision of where the government intends to go in terms of immigration, and employers need to be prepared to survive any delays or confusion surrounding the implementation issues which are bound to arise between now and the arrival of the new system arrival on 1 January 2021.
What has been left out?
The policy paper makes no mention of what is to happen to the self-employed. This is particularly relevant now that the entrepreneur visa is no longer available to new entrants. Those people will need to think about making applications under the innovator or start up visa routes. Although these came into being in March 2019, entry into either scheme rests on the notoriously difficult task of getting an endorsement from an authorised body. Alternatively, if an individual seeking to come to the UK is employed overseas already, they could look at coming to the UK as a sole representative of the overseas business (currently this route is outside the points based system).
There will be no change to the rules for family members or students (who must be sponsored to qualify). Note that the post study work route that will open in 2021, which will allow those who have been in the UK under Tier 4 as students to work for a UK employer for up to 2 years.
Note that the government will be bringing out a new immigration bill, details of which are expected later in March.
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