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The UK’s new points-based system – what employers need to know

18 September 2020
The UK’s new points-based system – what employers need to know

You may have heard that from 1 January 2021, free movement will end and the UK will introduce a new points-based immigration system. This means that EU and non-EU citizens who want to come to the UK to work will be treated equally.

The process will be similar to the current system. Under the points-based system, a migrant worker must meet a set of requirements which they would be scored against. If the migrant gains enough points they are awarded a visa to come to the UK.

What does the new system mean for EU citizens already living in the UK?

EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will not be affected and they and their family members can apply for settled or pre-settled status via the EU settlement scheme. They must make their application by 30 June 2021.

As an employer, you can continue to accept passports as evidence of right to work from EU citizens until 30 June 2021.

What is a share code?

If EU nationals want to prove their right to work using digital status obtained from the Home Office they may do so using the Home Office online right to work checking service. They will need to provide you with a share code, which can be provided to you directly or they can send it to you via the service.

What do I need to do if I want to recruit overseas skilled workers?

If you want to recruit workers from outside the UK from 1 January 2021, then you will need to apply for a sponsor licence.

What will the worker need to show?

Under the new skilled worker system, migrants who wish to work in the UK will need to demonstrate that:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • the job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent)
  • they speak English to the required standard

Will there be a minimum salary threshold?

Yes, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum salary threshold. This is the higher of either:

  • the general salary threshold set by Her Majesty’s Government on advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee at £25,600, or
  • the specific salary requirement for their occupation (“going rate”).

Applicants may wish to trade characteristics. So they will be able to “trade” their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the required number of points.

If the job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement but no less than £20,480, an applicant may still be eligible if they have:

  • a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • a PhD relevant to the job
  • a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

There are different salary rules for workers in certain health or education jobs, and for “new entrants” at the start of their careers.

How many points are needed to apply for a visa to work in the UK?

Workers will need a total of 70 points to apply for a visa. There are mandatory points as well as tradeable points.

How will I know whether a job meets the required skill level?

There is a Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) code list. All jobs have a SOC code and each SOC code has a designated skill level. You will need to identify the appropriate SOC code which will determine whether the job meets the requirements of the skilled worker route.

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