An introduction to the UK’s points-based immigration system

On 1 January 2021, the UK launched a new, points-based style immigration system to bring EU immigration into line with the rest of the world.

If you are an employer, here’s what you need to know about the new immigration regime and how you can recruit talent from overseas.

What is a points-based immigration system?

The new regime ends freedom of movement between the EU and the UK and introduces a new Australian-style ‘points-based’ system.

Under this regime, anyone coming to the UK for work purposes – no matter where they are from – must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. Work visas are awarded to those who score enough points.

How are points scored?

Anyone coming to the country under the ‘skilled worker route’ must demonstrate that they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (more on that later), which is at the required skill level or above.

The job offer must also meet the applicable minimum salary threshold (currently, the higher of either the general salary threshold of £25,600, or the specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the ‘going rate’).

Should the applicant not meet the salary threshold, they can “trade characteristics” to score additional points. This may include a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, a PhD relevant to the job, or a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job.

Applicants must also speak English to the required standard.

The full list of characteristics and awarded points can be found here.

What you need to do as an employer

Employers must have a sponsor licence to hire workers from outside the UK. Without one, they may be breaking the law.

The standard processing time is around eight weeks, so you should prepare your application well ahead of recruitment.

You can learn more about the application process and eligibility criteria here. To apply to become a sponsor, click here.

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For help and advice on related matters, please get in touch with our expert Brexit advisory team today.

Posted in Brexit.