The new immigration system in summary

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The new system puts an end to freedom of movement, and both EU and non-EU citizens who wish to enter the UK after 2020 will be assigned points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and occupations. Visas can then be awarded based on those points.

EU Citizens Already Living in the UK

The new system will not apply to EU citizens residing in the UK by 31 December 2020, so long as they apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. As part of the transition, employers are able to accept national identity cards and passports of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30 June 2021.

Skilled Workers

Anyone who arrives in the UK to work after 1 January 2021 will need to demonstrate that they possess a minimum of 70 points across a variety of categories in order to apply for a skilled worker (Tier 2 (General)) visa. Categories include:

  • being able to speak English (10 points)
  • having a job offer from a Home Office approved Sponsor (20 points)
  • the offer being at the required skill level – RQF level 3 or above (A level or equivalent) (20 points)

There are also some categories with tradeable points:

  • salary (attracting between 0-20 points on a salary between £20,480 and £25,600 or above)
  • education qualification (attracting between 10-20 points based on having a PhD)
  • a job in the shortage occupation list (attracting 20 points)

In its introductory material, the Home Office gives some examples to demonstrate how the tradeable point system will operate in practice – have a look here.


The Home Office has once again recommended that employers who are not currently licensed sponsors, but who are likely to need to recruit both EU and non-EU talent post-2020, should consider applying to become a sponsor.

For employers who are already sponsors, we are keeping the existing system under review. Recent changes include:

1. Priority change of circumstance service

The priority change of circumstances service is no longer being operated by telephone and is now being accessed via email by using Tier2& attaching a completed request form.

This service can be used for the following requests:

  • allocating additional certificate of sponsorship (CoS)
  • allocating annual CoS allocation
  • adding a new Level 1 user
  • replacing/amending the Authorising Officer
  • replacing/amending the Key Contact
  • adding a representative
  • amending organisation details

Standard processing times for these requests can take up to 18 weeks. The priority service aims to deal with your request within 5 working days following receipt of the submission sheet and payment. The priority service charges £200 per request.

A maximum of 60 requests will be dealt with each day. If you email the service after the maximum has been exceeded, you will receive an automatic response telling you to apply again the next working day. Further details on the updated service can be found on the UK Government website.

2. Changes in reaction to COVID-19

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Home Office has relaxed a number of rules for both sponsored workers and their sponsors, including:

  • Visa extensions for anyone unable to return home due to travel restrictions and/or self-isolation and whose leave expired after 24 January 2020
  • Visa extensions for NHS staff for one year and whose leave expires before 1 October 2020
  • Adjustments to right to work checks
  • Waiving a number of recording and reporting duties
  • Allowing longer periods of unpaid leave and reductions in salary if these are due to COVID-19

More details on changes to the immigration rules can be found in our dedicated immigration and COVID-19 blog.