United Kingdom- Immigration Points System

Changes to immigration

Today the Government has published information on the UK’s new points-based immigration system.

This clearly sets out the way forward on our commitment to making a firmer and fairer immigration system, and one which will attract the brightest and best, based on the skills a person has to offer, not their nationality.

The proposals will see the government implement a comprehensive programme of work which will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family.

From 1 January 2021, free movement will end and be replaced with the UK’s new points-based immigration system to cater for the most highly skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including for global leaders and innovators.

All migrants looking to enter the UK to work or study will need to apply for permission in advance.

As we continue to attract the labour force we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services, we intend to create a high wage, high skill, high productivity economy across our United Kingdom.

Skilled workers

For skilled workers, we will introduce a points-based system that is open to EU and non-EU citizens. This will be employer-led, and all applicants will be required to have a job offer by an approved employer sponsor. The job will need to be at a required skill level, and applicants will need to be able to speak English. 

From January 2021, those applying will be able to trade points on specific characteristics against their salary. Applicants may be able to earn less than the £25,600 minimum salary threshold if, for example they are working in an industry that has a shortage of workers or they have a PhD.

Global talent

For highly skilled workers, the Global Talent route (which expands upon the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route) has recently been reformed, removing the cap on numbers and increasing the number of endorsing bodies. This newly expanded route will ensure that top researchers, scientists and mathematicians with specialist skills in the sector are provided with fast-track entry to the UK.

Our new science offer, which will launch tomorrow (20 February) will enable a wider pool of world-leading scientific talent and top researchers to apply to come to the UK and make an important contribution to our leading science and research sectors.

The Global Talent route will be open to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens, from January 2021. In the longer term, and in line with recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report, an unsponsored route for highly skilled workers as part of the new UK points-based immigration system will be introduced.

Other workers

We will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. However, initiatives have already been introduced for scientists and researchers, graduates, certain NHS professionals and those in the agriculture sector.

This, alongside changes to the salary and skills thresholds, will provide businesses with additional flexibility. The Government has announced an expansion of the Seasonal Workers Pilot. This pilot is part of the current temporary worker route and will help to inform our thinking on sectoral schemes as we move towards our future immigration system. We will update you on matters of the points-based immigration system as and when new information becomes available.