Understanding the new UK points based immigration system and what it means for you

Following the exit of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020, the UK has launched a new points-based visa system, aiming at attracting the 'brightest and the best' from the world and cutting down numbers of cheap, low-skilled workers coming to the country.

The new system will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work, study or visit and will also revolutionize the operation of the UK border, tighten security and deliver a better customer experience for those coming to the UK.

Why this new system?

The aim of the new policy is to:-

  • End free movement and introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system
  • Attract the high-skilled workers the country needs to contribute to its economy, its communities and its public services.
  • To shift the focus of the economy away from a reliance on cheap labour and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation.
  • To create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy.

Distorted by European free movement rights, the earlier immigration system had been failing to meet the needs of the British people and hence, through this new policy, the govt. strives to deliver a system that works in the interests of the country and prioritises the skills a person has to offer, not where they come from.

When will the new system come into force?

The new system will be enforced from 1 January 2021, wherein EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally and free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member will be formally put to an end.

The overall levels of migration will be reduced and top priority will be given to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academics and other specialist work routes including routes for global leaders and innovators.

What does the new system imply?

The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.

Skilled workers will need to meet a number of relevant criteria including, 

  • Specific skills and Qualifications
  • The ability to speak English
  • All applicants will be required to have a job offer and, in line with the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) recommendations
  • The minimum salary threshold will be set at 25,600 pounds - lower than the previous 30,000 pounds level for Tier 2 work visas, to be able to work in the UK

Will it affect student visa?

Students will be covered by the points-based system. They will achieve the required points if,

  • They can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution
  • They can speak English
  • They are able to support themselves financially during their studies in the UK

Advantages of the new system

  • The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system.
  • The new points-based system will also expand the skills threshold for skilled workers and hence, those looking to live and work in the UK will need to be qualified up to A-level or equivalent, rather than degree-level under the current system. This will ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers.