Breaking news: Home Office policy paper released on the UK points-based immigration system coming into force on the 1 January 2021 banner


Breaking news: Home Office policy paper released on the UK points-based immigration system coming into force on the 1 January 2021

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Immigration solicitors have been eagerly awaiting the details for the new UK points based Immigration system. The Home Office today released a 130 page policy paper with additional information about how the planned UK points based Immigration system will work. With barely five months to go before the UK makes massive changes to its Immigration policy and procedures it is vital that you or your business do all that you can to take advantage of the existing Immigration Rules or use the time to get ready for the new UK points based Immigration system.

UK Immigration solicitors

Whether you are already in the UK or contemplating a move to the UK then the new UK points based Immigration system may affect you whether you are an EU citizen or a non-EEA national. Likewise, whether you are a multi-national, SME or start-up business it is best to prepare for January 2021.

UK immigration solicitors can help you get ready for the new points based Immigration system and advise you on your best options. Call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.

The Home Secretary’s statement on Immigration

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a written statement to the House of Commons:

"In 2016, and again in 2019, the British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based system that will work for the whole of the UK. The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill delivers on these votes by ending the automatic right to live and work in the UK for EU migrants from 1st January 2021.

"In February I set out the vision for a fairer, firmer, skills-led Immigration system. The system will play a key part in our long-term approach to the labour market and in our response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"At a time where an increased number of people across the UK are looking for work, the new points-based system will encourage employers to invest in the domestic UK workforce, rather than simply relying on labour from abroad.

"But we are also making necessary changes, so it is simpler for employers to attract the best and brightest from around the world to come to the UK to complement the skills we already have.

"We know this new Immigration system and approach to the labour market will mean changes in the way businesses operate and recruit. Today I am laying before the House a command paper (CP 258) providing further detail on the points-based system, covering the main economic migration routes for those wishing to work or study or set up a business in the UK, to help both employers and applicants prepare and adapt for the changes ahead. Copies will be available from the Vote Office.

"It will be simpler for businesses to access the talent they need as we have removed the Resident Labour Market Test, lowered the skills and salary threshold, and removed the cap on skilled workers.

"The skilled worker route gives employers flexibility by allowing applicants to trade points if they have relevant qualifications or work in a shortage occupation. We have commissioned our independent migration experts to produce a shortage occupation list, so that the Government can work with sectors to fill roles quickly where shortages may occur.

"We will be introducing a new-fast track Health and Care Visa. This will make it easier and quicker for talented global health professionals to work in our brilliant NHS and in eligible occupations in the social care sector. The visa fee will be reduced and health professionals applying can expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrolment. We will exempt frontline workers in the health and social care sector and wider health workers from the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

"Our Global Talent route launched earlier in the year encourages highly skilled individuals to come to the UK and provides a fast track route for top scientists and researchers.

"To ensure our world-leading education sector remains competitive in a changing global market, we are refining the student route and launching a Graduate route in Summer 2021. The student route will be streamlined for sponsoring institutions and applicants, and the graduate route will help retain the brightest and the best students to contribute to the UK post-study.

"Our new system sends a message to the whole world that Britain is open for business, but on our terms."

The points based Immigration system policy paper

The 130 page policy document will take careful reading by Immigration solicitors but the policy document says that it:

"Builds on the policy statement (issued in February 2020) by providing more detail to applicants, employers and educational institutions on the draft requirements and conditions underpinning the key Immigration routes in the Points-Based System. The routes described in this document cover the main economic migration routes for those wishing to apply to work or study or set up a business in the UK. It also sets out our generous provisions for visitors".

"It is intended to give time to prepare ahead of some of these new routes opening later this year, in advance of ending free movement for EU citizens on 31 December. Unless otherwise stated, these routes will be open by January 2021. For all other routes, such as family reunion, from January 2021 EU citizens (who do not qualify under EU Settlement Scheme or other routes protected by the Withdrawal Agreement) will need to apply and qualify for entry or stay on the same basis as non-EU citizens".

The policy paper goes onto state:

"Underpinning the new system will be simplified rules and guidance. Over the years, the Immigration Rules, which set out the requirements a migrant must meet to come to or stay in the UK, have become long, complex and repetitive. The Law Commission's recent review of the Rules identified principles under which they can be redrafted to make them simpler and more accessible and fit for the future".

Key points from the points based Immigration system policy paper

Immigration solicitors say that some of the key points from the points based Immigration system policy paper are:

  • Most Immigration routes into the UK will have the same requirements whether the person wanting to enter the UK is a non-EEA national or an EU citizen unless the EU citizen has pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • EU citizens (without settled status) will need to get a visa for all activities other than short-term visits in much the same way as non-EEA nationals

  • The implementation of the UK points based Immigration system will be phased gradually with the government planning to release further information

  • If a non-EEA national wants to come to the UK before the introduction of the points based Immigration system then the application process is the same as normal. After the 1 January 2021 the process will change but there will still be the same requirement for a visa

  • Until the 1 January 2021, EU citizens can continue to exercise their rights to free movement under the terms of the Brexit transition arrangements. If you are an EU citizen and you enter the UK before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 then you and relevant family members will be eligible to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline to make an application under the EU Settlement Scheme is the 30 June 2021

  • Over 3.7 million applications have been made by EU citizens and their families for pre-settled status or settled status

  • The government plans to make the new points based Immigration system and accompanying Immigration Rules streamlined and simplified and to make the best use of technology

  • There will be a fast track Immigration system for health workers

  • The fast track Immigration system won't be extended to care workers in the health industry

  • Visas will be subject to an English language requirement as part of the points based Immigration system

  • There will be a more robust system in place to deport non-UK or non-settled citizens if they receive a sentence of imprisonment whilst in the UK. This will apply to EU nationals as well if they are subject to Immigration control and require a visa as they don’t have settled status. The government has said that the policy will affect those sentenced after December 2020

  • Talented individuals will be able to apply for a global talent visa if they can secure endorsement by an Endorsing Body

  • The government doesn’t intend to introduce a new visa for lower skilled workers other than specific visa categories such as seasonal agricultural workers

  • There will be a new style points based work visa for skilled workers who meet income thresholds and meet the required number of points on their visa application – seventy points

  • The general minimum threshold for a skilled workers is to be set at £25,600, although this can reduce to £20,480 both if a visa applicant is starting their career and for some applicants in the health and education sectors.

According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson the points based Immigration system will mean that:

“Although of course we are going to be taking back control and we are controlling our Immigration system we’re not going to be simply slamming the gates and stopping anybody anywhere coming into this country.”

What does the points based Immigration system mean for my Immigration plans?

Whether you are an EU citizen or a non-EEA national or UK business owner it is best to take legal advice on how best to prepare for the end of free movement and the introduction of the new points based Immigration system. That is because whether you are an individual or a business owner there are things that you can be doing to get ready for the Immigration changes on the 1 January 2021.

UK Immigration solicitors

OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and personal immigration law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession.

The specialist Immigration solicitors offer fast, expert, easy to follow immigration advice looking at your best Brexit options including a settled status one day application service for EU citizens.

For expert immigration and employment law advice that you can trust, call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.