Government unveils new Points Based Immigration Scheme
Last week, amidst the welter of news about COVID-19 and the various government initiatives to protect wages and jobs, the government decided that it was time to launch its much heralded ‘points based’ immigration system.
"The new system will be in effect from 1 January 2021 and will apply equally to EU and non-EU citizens alike."
This is, however, subject to one caveat which is that new system will not apply to EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020. They and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and have until 30 June 2021 to make an application. Importantly (bearing in mind that employing someone who does not have the right to work in the UK is a criminal offence), as a transition measure, employers can continue to accept the passports and national identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.
In simple terms, unless an applicant satisfies on of the other migration routes (such as the Global Talent route or the Youth Mobility Scheme) only ‘skilled workers’ will be able to live and work in the UK. To be a skilled worker, anyone coming to the UK to work will need to demonstrate that:
- they have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor
- the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
- they speak English
In addition to this, if the applicant earns more than the required minimum salary threshold they are eligible to make an application. If they earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job.
Anyone coming to work in the UK will need to be paid the higher of the specific salary threshold for their occupation – the ‘going rate’ – and the general salary threshold. However, some applicants will be able to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications, against a lower salary. The general minimum salary threshold will be £25,600.
An applicant is required to earn 70 points to be eligible for clearance with each attribute given a certain points value. For example; speaking English attracts 10 points, having a job offer attracts 20 points and so on.
This represents a significant change in the immigration system and employers who envisage that they may need overseas workers from early 2021 should be looking now about whether the workers that they are likely to need will be able to satisfy the criteria under the new system.