The UK Government has announced its plans to introduce a points-based-post-Brexit immigration system.

The British government released a policy statement on 19 February 2020 about the future of the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) immigration system. The proposed changes will make it very costly for U.K. companies to employ European Union (EU) citizens.

Low-skilled workers and non-English speakers will no longer qualify for UK visas and the Home Office stated that EU and non-EU citizens intending to relocate and work in the UK, would be treated equally. EU students will also be subject to the points-based system for study visas, as the single global system promises to “treat EU and non-EU citizens equally”.

There will be no specific entry route for low-skilled workers, something the government hopes will help reduce migrant numbers.

The new immigration system will commence in January 2021 (although details will be forthcoming from autumn 2020) and will apply to economic migrants only.

A person would need 70 points to apply to work in the UK

In order to gain the prescribed amount of points, the individual must have at least received an offer of employment, hold the appropriate level of skill(s) to complete the job at hand, must be English speaking and receive a salary of +£ 25 600,00.

The points system would work as follow:

Characteristics Essential Points
Offer of job by approved sponsor Yes 20
Job at appropriate skill level Yes 20
Speaks English at required level Yes 10
Salary of £20 480 (min) – £23 039 No 0
Salary of £20 480 (min) – £25 599 No 10
Salary of £25 600 or above No 20
Job in a designated shortage occupation No 20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to job No 10
Education qualification: PhD in a Stem subject relevant to the job No 0

Key Changes to the Immigration System

The U.K. has had a points-based system in place since 2008, so this is not a drastic overhaul of the visa system. The most significant changes to the operation of the U.K. immigration system will be the end of freedom of movement, and the fact that EU citizens will become subject to the points-based system for the first time.

For workers with a job offer, key changes to the system starting in January 2021 will include:

  • A reduction in the minimum salary requirement from £30 000 to £25 600 (or the “going-rate” for a job if that is higher).
  • A minimum salary of £23 040 if the applicant has a non-STEM Ph.D. relevant to their role or £20 480 if they have a STEM Ph.D. or will work in a job on the Shortage Occupations List.
  • The requisite skill level will be reduced from a bachelor’s degree to A-level.
  • The resident labour market test will be scrapped.
  • There will be a suspension on the cap of the number of visas issued.
  • The requirement that a position be advertised to local workers before recruiting foreign nationals will be removed.

INDUSTRIES EXPECTED TO BE HIT HARDEST BY THE NEW SYSTEM

  • Construction companies
  • University scientists
  • Farms
  • Retail
  • NHS
  • The Social care sector (nurses etc.)

This proposal that the government made is likely to make life more difficult for many different companies that have expanded rapidly by appointing cheap, willing labour from the EU.

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