The Conservative Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Priti Patel says that the new system is about taking back control, attracting highly skilled people and reducing overall immigration | Photo: Imago
The Conservative Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Priti Patel says that the new system is about taking back control, attracting highly skilled people and reducing overall immigration | Photo: Imago

The UK has left the EU and this year is a transition year; old rules still apply until the end of 2020. At the beginning of next year, the country wants to install a new "points-based immigration system."

The British government has announced in a policy statement published February 19, 2020 that it will be "ending free movement and will introduce an immigration bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system that will attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services." The intention is to "create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy." With a big focus on skills.

To do that, the government will be making some changes which will come into effect on January 1, 2021:

  • EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. For living and working in the UK, all will require a visa.
  • Overall levels of migration "will be reduced."
  • There will be an emphasis on highly-skilled migrants, for instance you get more points if you have a Ph.D. qualification or if you have a highly-paid job offer.
  • Border operations will be "revolutionized" and security will be "tightened."The UK government is investing heavily in fortifying border police | Photo: picture-alliance/empics/G. Fuller

  • There will be NO "general low-skilled or temporary work route" into the UK. That’s because the government wants to "shift the focus of [their] economy away from a reliance on cheap labor from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation."
  • They expect the EU Settlement Scheme, for which they have already received 3.2 million applications, to provide employers "with [the] flexibility to meet labor market demands."
  • Special emphasis will be placed on attracting scientists, graduates, NHS (public health service) workers and those in the agricultural sector.
  • The general salary threshold for migrants wishing to work in the UK will be 25,600 pounds per year.
  • The cap on the number of people coming via the skilled worker route will be suspended and the resident labor market test will be removed.
  • The system will be "employer-led."
  • You will need a total of 70 points to apply for the scheme.
A table showing the way a prospective immigrant to the UK could accrue points | Source: British Government policy document
  • To migrate to the UK you will need to demonstrate a job offer from an approved sponsor: 20 points.
  • You will need to speak English at the required level: 10 points
  • You will need a job offer at the appropriate skill level: 20 points
  • A salary of 25,600 pounds or above will add 20 points to your score. A salary of between 23,040-25,599 pounds a year will add just 10 points.
  • The minimum salary you will be required to earn is 20,480 pounds per year. But that level will bring no extra points to your score.
  • If you apply for a job in a "shortage occupation" (like nursing for instance) then you can add 20 points to your score. The list of shortage occupations will be continually updated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).Hundreds of Vietnamese migrants are reportedly smuggled into the UK each year, with many ending up working in nail salons | Photo: Imago/UIG/P. Deloche

  • If you have a Ph.D. in a subject relevant to the job you will get 10 points.
  • If you have a Ph.D. in a STEM (math and science and technology) subject then you acquire 20 points.
  • From January 2021 the "Global Talent" route will be extended to EU citizens. Those working in science and technology and STEM subjects will be favored.
  • The pilot scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture will be quadrupled in size to offer 10,000 places.
  • The UK already has in place "youth mobility arrangements with eight countries and territories which results in around 20,000 young people coming to the UK each year."
  • There is a fast-track NHS visa to encourage doctors and nurses to migrate to the NHS from abroad.

In a press conference, the UK Home Secretary (Interior Minister) Priti Patel told journalists about the theoretical case of a builder wishing to come to the UK to work. "If they have an employer, it could be a construction firm and they meet the skills threshold and the points we showed. Then, of course, they can come to the United Kingdom to work. It is ridiculous to imply that we’re shutting down routes and people can’t come into the UK."

British net migration levels are currently more than 200,000 people per year. Numbers have been on a downward trend since a peak in 2016, when the net migration level stood at 336,000 people. 

The new bill still needs to be passed by the British Parliament but the ruling Conservative party has a significant majority.


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