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UK points-based immigration system: April update


Just before the Easter weekend we saw a UKVI update focusing on something other than covid-19. This latest update looks ahead to upcoming changes to immigration law and the points-based system still planned to come into force from 2021.

You can explore the guidance for yourself here and we have created a summary below highlighting the key points of interest:

Firstly, UKVI starts by restating a message we have already heard, that the new system will be Points Based and aims to level the requirements for all applicants regardless of their nationality, thereby ending free movement for EU nationals.

There is also a recap on the situation for EU nationals – in summary anyone entering the UK before 31 Dec is fine to stay, but all EU nationals must apply for residence documents under the EU Settled Status scheme by 30 June 2021.

UK Points based immigration system – Skilled workers

Skilled work is the area seeing the most change: from 01 Jan 2021 skilled workers coming to the UK need a job offer from an employer at a role skilled at RQF 3 or higher, which encompasses many more roles than the current RQF 6 threshold does. Minimum salary requirements still apply, dependent on the specific job role.

It is worth noting that it is a strange time to be highlighting this restriction on ‘skill’ level, given that the country is currently heavily dependent on a number of ‘unskilled’ positions which will not be eligible for sponsorship next year for example care workers, large lorry delivery drivers, etc.

The standard minimum salary is £25,600, although the minimum required for any given applicant might be more and is role specific. Something new for 2021: if the salary is low (but is at least £20,480), sponsorship might still be possible if the individual is in a shortage role.

Case studies and example scenarios

The UKVI update also provides a table explaining how the points will be allocated for each application, with points scoring in areas such as meeting the skill level (20 points), earning £25,600 or above (20 points), etc. A total of 70 points or more is needed for the application to succeed. Helpfully, there are case studies showing examples of how an applicant might meet the points total in different scenarios.

Highly Skilled Workers and the Global Talent route

The update also provides an interesting statement relating to the very highly skilled. The Global Talent route remains for those endorsed in key areas, but also: “In the longer term, an unsponsored route for highly skilled workers will be introduced.” We are intrigued to see further details on this.

Key Takeaway

The key takeaway is the need to apply for a sponsor licence if you don’t already have one and you think your business might need it from 2021. It is important to note that the current situation in the UK is only likely to lead to backlogs and delays. So, if you and your business need to apply for a sponsor licence then taking timely action is critical.