At the end of this year, the free movement of EU nationals into the UK will end, with the new Points-Based System taking effect from 1 January 2021. Announced by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel earlier this year, the new system will treat all citizens irrespective of nationality, equally.
The major change therefore will be that in order to live and work in the UK from next year, both EU and non-EU nationals will need to satisfy the points criteria. Under the new scheme, 70 points will be required in order to achieve approval with varying amounts of points being awarded for the level of salary that their intended position will offer, the skill level of the job, their level of post-graduate qualifications and also their knowledge of English. Some of these characteristics will be “mandatory” whilst others will be “tradeable”.
The breakdown of points will be as follows:-
- Job offer from approved sponsor – 20 points
- Job at appropriate skill level – 20 points
- English language – 10 points
- Salary – up to 30 points
- Job in shortage occupation – 20 points
- PhD in relevant job sector – 10 points
- PhD in relevant stem subject – 20 points
Currently, there is an annual cap on how many migrants can be recruited from outside the EEA. However, the Government have announced that they will abolish this cap. Furthermore, in order for an employer to sponsor a migrant into the UK, the position needs to be at Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 6. This is pegged at graduate level. However, under the new system, the skills threshold will be lowered to RQF level 3. This will be equivalent to A Level.
Furthermore, the current minimum salary threshold for skilled workers will be reduced down to £25,600.00 from the current minimum of £30,000.00 per annum.
Previously, the Government had mooted a lower skilled visa which would have enabled migrants to enter the UK for a period of 12 months but then be required to leave the UK for a period of 12 months before they could apply to return here. Such a visa route would not have led to settlement and migrants would not have been able to bring family members with them. However, the Government have confirmed that they will not be introducing a visa route for lower skilled workers. This has been widely criticised including by the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) which has stated that particular sectors including the care sector will be significantly under resourced.
Another issue which has been criticised is the fact that the upper salary threshold of £25,600.00 will exclude many jobs in sectors such as hospitality, social care and agriculture. It has been argued therefore that the new system will adversely impact those parts of the economy dependent upon low skilled and lower salary labour.
Studying in the UK
Under the new system, all potential overseas students including EU nationals will need an offer from an educational institution along with sufficient funds in order to support themselves together with a knowledge of the English language.
Visiting the UK
EU citizens and other non-visa nationals will not need a visa in order to enter the UK for the purposes of a visit for up to 6 months.
The Immigration Health Surcharge
Currently, migrants are required to pay the sum of £400.00 per year for the length of their permission to remain in the UK. Family members are also required to pay this amount. Previously, the sum was £200.00 per year for the length of the permission to remain. However, on 11 March 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget, stated that the Immigration Health Surcharge would increase to £624.00 per year with the change being introduced in October 2020. This change will apply to all non-EEA nationals including their family members who make applications to enter or remain in the UK.
Under the new immigration system to be introduced from next year, the NHS Health Surcharge will apply to all EEA migrants entering the UK.
For more help or advice with any of these issues please contact any member of the Immigration Team.