April 15, 2020

U.K. Government Releases New Points-Based Immigration Guidance

The U.K. government issued the U.K.’s Points-Based Immigration System: An Introduction for Employers guidance just before the U.K. Easter Bank Holiday. It is nothing new to what was hinted previously. Below is a summary of the key points of the guidance of which employers may want to be aware to help them prepare:

  • The U.K. will introduce a points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021.
  • Free movement for EU nationals will end on 1 January 2021.
  • EU and non-EU foreign nationals will be treated equally under this new system.
  • EU nationals and their family members currently living in the U.K. have until 30 June 2021 to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • 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.
  • Skilled workers: The new skilled worker route will open from autumn 2020 for applications from those who wish to work in the U.K. after 1 January 2021. Anyone coming to the U.K. to work under this route must establish 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.
    • 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.
  • High-skilled workers: From 1 January 2021, the Global Talent route will be opened to EU citizens on the same basis as foreign nationals if they are endorsed by the relevant competent body.
  • Lower-skilled workers: There will not be an immigration route specially for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the Home Office felt it necessary to release this new guidance and state that lower-skilled workers (e.g., care workers, nurses, hospital porters, cleaners, logistics personnel, postal workers and other that currently fall within the COVID-19 crisis definition of “key workers”) will not be able to apply for a U.K. work visa from January 2021. The only “low-skilled” workers that the government will allow to apply for a visa are agricultural labourers.
  • Other routes: A new Graduate Immigration Route will be available from the summer of 2021 to international students who have completed a degree in the U.K.
  • Employers who currently do not have a Sponsor Licence, but think they will likely be recruiting overseas workers in the future, should consider applying for a Sponsor Licence now if they want to sponsor skilled foreign national workers from January 2021.
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