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New points-based system framework

Jul 22, 2020

Priti Patel has stated that the new points-based system framework will encourage employers to invest in workers from within the UK, whilst continuing to attract the “best and brightest” from around the world. The intention is to encourage employers to invest in the domestic UK workforce, rather than hiring cheaper labour from abroad.

This new scheme comes into effect on 1st January 2021 and will immediately halt freedom of movement with the EU. From 1st January onwards, EU migrants will be treated the same as migrants from elsewhere in the world. Once the Brexit transition period ends, migrants wishing to relocate to the UK to live and work will have to evidence 70 points in the new points-based system. These points are awarded on the basis of:

  1. Having a job offer (20 points) from an “approved employer” at an “appropriate skill level” (20 points);
  2. Speaking English (10 points); and
  3. Earning in excess of £25,600 (20 points)

Despite the above requirements, some exceptions have been made. Those with job offers in “shortage occupations” including nursing and civil engineering can earn the extra points required, even if they are on lower salaries than the required amount. The minimum salary requirement for those with tradeable points is £20,480.

In response to the pressure felt by the NHS considering the current pandemic, the new health and care visa will carry a reduced fee. The Home Secretary also confirmed that frontline health workers will no longer be charged the Immigration Health Surcharge (which is up to £400 per year).

At present, there are no plans to introduce a low skilled or temporary work route for migrant workers. There is, however, a pilot scheme being run for seasonal agricultural workers.

Students

There will be no limit on the number of international students who can enter the UK to study.

A new graduate route is expected to be launched in summer 2021, in the hope of retaining the brightest and best students’ post-study. This will enable international students to remain in the UK for a minimum of 2 years following the end of their studies.

Criminals

Foreign criminals who have served sentences in excess of 1 year will be banned from entering the UK. Foreign nationals who are already in the UK who have faced 1 year or more in prison will be considered for deportation.

What needs to be done now?

  • All businesses employing EU citizens from 2021 must apply for a “Skilled Worker Licence”. Consider whether you need to obtain a licence, bearing in mind the usual processing period is 8 weeks, but there are currently delays due to Covid-19. All current Tier 2 Sponsors will automatically, and free of charge be granted this new licence.
  • Employers with existing EU workers in the UK should ensure that their staff know what they should be doing to register under the EU Settlement Scheme.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter. 

By Bermeet Chokkar

Solicitor, Immigration Law 

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