The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System

The new points-based immigration system came into force on 1 January 2021.
Tue 2nd Feb 2021

As the freedom of movement between the UK and EU has come to an end, the UK has implemented a new points-based immigration system that treats EU and non-EU citizens equally. Any migrant workers who want to move to the UK for work will now require a visa. There are a variety of routes available to obtain a visa (such as Start-up and Innovator route, Health and Care visa, or Creative route). However, the most prominent route is likely to be the Skilled Worker route.

The Skilled Worker route

To receive a visa under the Skilled Worker route, the worker will have to meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. A visa is available for those who earn 70 points. These points are based on a variety of characteristics, and different characteristics hold a different number of points. As a minimum, a worker will need to demonstrate that they:

  • Have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (20 points);
  • Have a job offer at the required skill level (20 points); and
  • Speak English to a required level (10 points).

This will leave workers with only 20 points outstanding, which can be obtained by a variety of other characteristics such as:

  • An annual salary of £25,600 or the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher) (20 points);
  • A job offer in a specific shortage occupation (20 points);
  • A PhD relevant to the job (10 points); or
  • A PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (20 points).

Applications to work in the UK can be started online and will be subject to an application fee. The application fee will vary depending on whether the job is on a list of skills that the UK has a shortage of (£610 per person) or not (£1,408 per person).

What employers need to know about the new points-based immigration system

If employers are considering employing skilled workers from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, they will need to ensure that they are a Home Office licenced sponsor. If an employer is already a licensed Tier 2 (General) visa sponsor, then it will automatically be granted a new Skilled Worker licence. If an employer is not currently an approved sponsor, they will need to apply for a sponsor licence via the government website.

EU Settlement Scheme

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who were living in the UK before the end of 2020 can apply for settlement status under the EU Settlement Scheme. EU citizens will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for settled status. Businesses are encouraged to provide information on the scheme to their affected employees to ensure they retain the right to work in the UK and to avoid business disruption.

Please note, although we are able to advise on immigration matters for organisations, SA Law does not provide immigration advice for individuals. Should you have any questions on the points-based immigration system or are looking to make an application or become a sponsor, we would suggest that you seek specialist immigration advice.


If you would like more information or advice relating to this article or an Employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Cook on 01727 798098.

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