'New' points-based immigration
system announced

The Home Secretary Priti Patel today announced a new points-based immigration system will take effect from 1 January 2021.

The brief policy statement confirms that from next year EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally under the new scheme that will cater for the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including routes for global leaders and innovators.

Alongside this policy statement the government plans to shortly publish their response to the Law Commission Report on Simplification of the Immigration Rules which it says will set out how they propose to provide the foundations for a streamlined and simplified system. What has been confirmed so far is: 

Skilled workers

  • All applicants, both EU and non-EU citizens, will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required skill level, and that they speak English.
  • A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics, such as salary, will be tradable against other attributes.
  • The general salary threshold for skilled workers wanting to come to the UK will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600. For those individuals with a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, the threshold will be reduced further to £20,480.
  • In line with recent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommendations, the skills threshold will be reduced from RQF6 to RQF3 (A-level/Scottish Highers-equivalent standard).
  • Employers not currently approved by the Home Office to be a sponsor will need to consider doing so if they want to sponsor skilled migrants, including those from the EU, from early 2021.
  • The government will levy the Immigration Skills Surcharge (ISC) and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) on the same basis as now. Therefore, employing an EU national under this new system for five years will attract an upfront employer levy of £5000 (ISC) and £2000 charge (IHS) to the employee.
  • Skilled workers will still be able to be accompanied by their dependants.

From January 2021, the government also intends to extend the current Global Talent route to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens.

The policy paper statement also points to an additional route for an smaller number of unsponsored highly-skilled workers being designed in due course.

Lower-skilled workers

The government will not be introducing a general low-skilled or temporary work route.

Whilst acknowledging that the new proposals represent significant change for businesses in the UK, the government has declared “employers will need to adjust”.

They implore employers to move away from using the UK immigration system to recruit “cheap labour” as an alternative to wider investment in staff retention and automation.

Many critics argue that a ten month period of adjustment is just not long enough and will simply lead to businesses in sectors such as care, food & hospitality and construction being unable to recruit the workers they need.  

Should you have any questions regarding how this latest immigration news will affect your business, contact one of Smith Stone Walters’ team of specialists today.  

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