From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system.
From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work.
Under a points-based immigration system, points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations. Visas are then awarded to those who gain enough points.
The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system.
This represents a significant change for employers in the UK, who will need to adapt. This guide provides an overview of the new system and sets out the steps employers can take to prepare.
For guidance on becoming a Home Office approved sponsor, please refer to the full policy guidance on sponsoring a migrant worker on GOV.UK.
EU citizens already living in the UK
The 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.
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.
From 1 January 2021, 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 they earn 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. See GOV.UK for further information on the ‘going rate’ for specific occupations and further exemptions.
Identifying whether a job meets the required skill level
All jobs have a corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. You can use the ONS Occupation Coding Tool to identify the relevant SOC code for your job.
Current skill levels for SOC codes are set out in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules.
The Immigration Rules will be updated in order to expand the list of occupations that will be eligible for the Skilled Work route. This will be based on the advice already published by the Migration Advisory Committee. More information will be published on GOV.UK in due course.