Breaking News: New UK Points-Based Immigration System Announced
The Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced the launch a new UK points-based Immigration system. The government has promised that their new Immigration scheme will open up the UK to the ‘brightest and the best from around the world’.
Coming into force on the 1 January 2021, the new Immigration system will end free movement for EU citizens and according to the Home Office official announcement the new system will ensure that the government ‘reasserts control of borders and restores public trust’.
UK Immigration solicitors
The UK is in a period of transition. If you are in business in the UK then Brexit and the planned changes to the Immigration system can be seen as a threat to the continuity of your business. If you are an EU citizen living and working in the UK then Brexit and the planned new Immigration system can be perceived as a hostile step. However, with change comes opportunity, and UK immigration solicitors say it is best to stay informed and understand the planned new Immigration system so you can get ready for 2021.
To understand how the new immigration system may affect you, your family or your business call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here.
The new UK Immigration system – the highlights
The highlights of the government’s planned new UK points-based Immigration system are:
• After December 2020 EU and non-EU citizens wanting to come to the UK to live and work will be treated in the same way by the Home Office because of the end of free movement of EU nationals
• Entry to the UK for EU and non-EEA citizens will be based on a new points-based Immigration system with points being awarded for a visa applicant’s specific skills, qualifications, or profession. Visa applicants will only be granted leave to enter the UK if they gain enough points under the new scheme. An applicant’s points will not be based upon their country of origin or their nationality
• There will be a single policy on eligibility criteria to apply for a visa if you have a criminal record. There will therefore be an end to the current situation where different rules apply depending on whether you are a non-EEA national or an EU citizen if you have a criminal record
• The new points based UK Immigration system is intended to make it harder for those seeking to enter the UK (whether they are a non-EEA national or EU citizen ) without skills or qualifications as they will find it more difficult to secure a visa based on an Immigration points based system that awards points based on an assessment of the skills the UK is thought to need from visa applicants
• The new Immigration points system will not only look at visa applicant’s qualifications and skills but also their ability to speak the English language
• Skilled workers who are applying for a work visa will be required to have a job offer and their employer must pay them a minimum salary. This minimum salary will initially be set at £25,600 per year. Skilled workers will not need to have a university degree. Education to A level standard will result in points being awarded under the new points-based Immigration system
• If the going rate for a job is more than £25,600 per year and the employer isn’t offering the ‘going rate’ for the job then this will reduce the points available to the visa applicant for the job offer
• Employers looking to recruit skilled workers will no longer have to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test before being able to recruit a non-settled worker. (A non-settled worker is a worker who isn’t a British citizen or someone who has settled status in the UK. Settled status includes Indefinite Leave to Remain and permanent residence). The government says this will make the recruitment of overseas skilled workers simpler and easier for UK employers
• The requirement for a work visa applicant to have a job offer earning at least £25,600 per annum is thought likely to significantly reduce the number of low-skilled workers from the EU who are currently able to enter the UK under free movement without any form of Immigration control
• The government does not plan to introduce a new visa route for the self employed
• Although the government has set a minimum salary threshold for skilled employed workers of £25,600 a year there will be what is termed a salary floor of £20,480 in special cases where there is a UK skills shortage, such as in nursing or some other health care roles or other skill shortage areas identified by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)
• MAC will maintain and review the Shortage Occupation List. If an occupation is on the Shortage Occupation List then a visa applicant for a job type that features on the Shortage Occupation List will secure a higher number of points using the new Immigration points based system
• Skilled workers looking to take up a job offer with a UK employer will need a minimum number of seventy points under the new Immigration system but individuals will get different points depending on their qualifications and other skills
• There will be no cap or maximum limit placed on the number of skilled workers who can enter the UK each year
• Skilled workers will be able to bring dependants with them to the UK provided that their dependants meet the eligibility criteria
• In addition to the entry route for skilled workers with a job offer from a sponsoring employer the Home Office intends to introduce a new route for highly skilled workers. Those highly skilled workers will not need a job offer or sponsor. The government has said it will put a cap on the number of highly skilled workers who can enter the UK each year using this route
• The government intention, through the adoption of the new points based Immigration scheme in 2021, is to reduce the total number of people entering the UK to live and work because whilst there will be no limit placed on the number of skilled workers who can enter the UK (provided they have sufficient points on the Immigration system) unskilled workers from the EU (who currently are able to come to the UK free from Immigration control or visa requirements) will not be able to secure a work visa
• Although the government is not planning to introduce a specific visa route for low skilled workers it plans to expand its seasonal workers pilot scheme. The expansion of the pilot scheme will be brought into force in time for the 2020 harvest and increase the number of visas available from 2,500 to 10,000. The government says this will help meet the temporary requirements of the UK agricultural sector
• The current visa routes for innovators, sportspersons and artists will be maintained but after the end of free movement these visa routes will be extended to include EU citizens
• Students will still be welcome to come to the UK to study but student visas will be extended to cover students from EU countries. To secure a student visa a student will need to obtain sufficient points on the points-based Immigration scheme. Applicants for Student Visas will need to be able to show that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak the English language. Provided a student meets these criteria they should secure a student visa
• The global talent visa , that is coming into operation on the 20 February 2020, is part of the government’s vision to attract the ‘brightest and best’ to the UK, with a particular emphasis on encouraging scientists and researchers to choose to come to the UK through the introduction of the global talent visa
• Until the end of free movement, the global talent visa will be open to non-EU citizens. After the end of free movement EU nationals will be able to apply for a global talent visa if they meet the eligibility criteria and can secure endorsement from one of the Home Office sector specific approved endorsing bodies. Those who successfully apply for a global talent visa will not need a firm job offer before being able to come to the UK to live and work as either a leader in their field of expertise or talented individual of promise
• EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not need a visit visa to come to the UK if they are visiting the UK for up to six months. However, the use of national identity cards by EU citizens will be phased out for travel to the UK
• EU citizens who are already living and working in the UK (or who come to live in the UK by no later than the 31 December 2020) can apply for settled status or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. If they secure settled status or pre-settled status they will be able to continue to live and work in the UK free of Immigration control. The deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is June 2021.
The government briefing paper says that UK businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement and employers will have to work harder to recruit and retain British staff and not rely on free movement for unlimited numbers of unskilled workers. It is a time of transition and massive change and preparation and planning is key to making sure that Brexit does not adversely affect you or your business.
The government announcement provides more information on the plans for an Australian style points system but more detail will be forthcoming in the next few months. More immediately we will get reaction from industry leaders and trade unions. Some in the press and in industry are already questioning how, in reality, the UK economy can thrive, or the National Health Service or the care and restaurant sectors can survive, without ongoing Immigration opportunities for low skilled workers. That is because the UK already has a low unEmployment rate, a skills gap and employer’s currently report difficulties in recruiting to fill unskilled jobs in a wide range of industries and Employment sectors.
UK Immigration solicitors
The government plans to make major changes to the UK Immigration system. If you are:
• A UK business – particularly one that relies on an EU workers or Tier 2 (General) visa workers
• An EU citizen living in the UK or planning to come to the UK to live and work
• A British citizen or person with settled status who hopes to bring a partner to live in the UK
Then you need expert legal advice to understand the government’s planned new points based Immigration system and how it will impact on your business, on you or on your family and what you can do to protect yourself or to get ready before the Immigration changes are implemented.
OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and personal immigration law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. We offer fast, efficient, easy to follow Immigration advice looking at your best options.