Further details revealed on the post-Brexit immigration system

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Coming to work

From 1 January 2021, anyone arriving into the UK for work, including all EU citizens, will have to demonstrate that they meet certain requirements for which they will score points. A minimum of 70 points will need to be earned to be eligible for a visa to come to the UK to work.

There are mandatory criteria which all entrants must meet to score 50 points:

  • The applicant must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor,
  • The job offer must be at or above the minimal skill level, and
  • The applicant must speak English to an acceptable standard.

Each applicant, having met the mandatory requirements, will then need to obtain at least a further 20 tradeable points. If the applicant is paid higher £25,600 per year or more, they will receive these extra 20 points. If the applicant is paid less than £25,600 but more than £20,480 per year, they may earn the additional points needed to enter if:

  • their job offer is in a specific shortage occupation (as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee and subject to change but generally include occupations where there is a national shortage)
  • the applicant has a PhD qualification relevant to the job
  • the applicant has a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
  • the job is a listed health/education job and meets the relevant national pay scale
  • the applicant is a new entrant to the labour market (i.e. they are switching from the Student or Graduate route to the Skilled Worker route; they are under the age of 26 on the date of their application; or they are working towards recognised professional qualifications or are moving directly into postdoctoral positions).

Remember, the minimum salary threshold for any applicant, regardless of their ability to achieve additional points, is £20,480 per year. If the role is to be paid less than this, then the applicant will not be able to earn enough points and will not be eligible for a visa. The minimum salary is significantly less than the current minimum salary of £30,000.

There are other routes to entry, including:

  • Health and Care Visa
  • Global Talent route
  • Start-up and Innovator route
  • Intra-Company Transfers (unlike with the general skilled route above which is subject to significant change, the Government has decided to make few changes to this route retaining the requirement for roles undertaken on this visa to be degree level and above)
  • Youth Mobility route

Coming to study

Points-based student route

Students will also require a total of 70 points to be granted leave and the point allocation are non-tradeable. The points are set out below:

  • Study requirements, worth 50 points, and which include Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies; Course; Approved Qualification ; Level of Study and Place of Study requirements
  • Financial requirements, worth 10 points
  • English language requirements, worth 10 points

Points-based graduate route

This route will be unsponsored and will offer successful applicants a one-time non-extendable leave period of two years if graduating at undergraduate or Masters’ level, or three years if graduating with a PhD. During this period, graduates will be able to work and look for work. Currently, students in the UK on a student visa who finish their studies are only permitted to stay in the UK until the end of their visa (usually a few months after their course has ended).

International students who have valid leave as a Tier 4 Student can apply, and those who have completed an undergraduate degree or above at a UK university.

There will be no English language requirements. However, applicants will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and will not have recourse to public funds.

Coming to visit

Anyone can apply to visit the UK. In most cases, visitors can enter the UK for up to six months. During their visit, visitors are permitted to engage in a wide range of activities:

  • Individuals can attend business meetings to negotiate business contracts (note that those visiting the UK on a business visitor visa cannot work)
  • Academics can present leading research to their peers
  • Scientists can share their knowledge with colleagues on international projects
  • Collaborate with support companies

Visitors must either apply for a visa before arrival or seek leave to enter at the UK border.

Additional points to note

Switching

Switching is used to describe an applicant’s ability to stay in the UK on a different immigration route without the need to leave the country and reapply from overseas. Under the new system, most applicants will be allowed to switch from one immigration route to another without needing to leave the country (whereas this is currently restricted to a limited number of categories).

Note that there will be no right to switch from a short-term route such as visitor visa’s or seasonal worker visas.

Criminality checks

The Government has placed a great deal of emphasis on the country having more power to refuse those deemed unsuitable to enter or stay in the country. One of the ways in which the Government is seeking to do this is to impose greater powers to refuse entry or to remain where there is evidence of criminality. Under the new system, those seeking entry into the UK can be refused where:

  • They have been convicted with a custodial sentence of at least 12 months
  • They have committed an offence which caused serious harm
  • They are a persistent offender
  • Their character, conduct or associations means their presence is not conducive to the public good

Recourse to public funds

In all the immigration routes it proposed, the Government have stipulated that no one will have recourse to public funds if they are ‘subject to immigration control’.

Intra-company transfer

This provision aims to allow for intra-company transfers by business personnel, enabling multi-national companies to move workers between subsidiary branches. This route will require applicants to be skilled at level RQF6 and not RQF3 as was originally touted.

For further information or clarity on the above, please don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated and experienced business immigration team.