From 1st January 2021, a new points-based system will be introduced to the UK immigration system for migrant workers.
Those who wish to work in the UK will need to score at least 70 points to be eligible for a UK Work Visa, with the rules applying to both non-EEA and EEA nationals (apart from Irish citizens).
What are the New Rules?
The main requirements for someone to be eligible for the new Skilled Worker Visa are:
- They have a job offer from a UK company with a sponsorship licence
- The job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above
- The job offer meets the minimum salary threshold
- They can speak English to a required standard
The minimum salary threshold differs somewhat depending on the type of job. Still, the minimum salary requirement cannot be less than £20,480.
The UK Points-Based System
The new Skilled Worker Visa route is a points-based system and applicants must score at least 70 points to be eligible for the main UK work visa.
Applicants can meet the 70 points through different measures. For instance, if the applicant’s salary only affords them 10 points, they could accrue a further 20 points through having a job offer in a shortage occupation.
There are tradeable points and mandatory points within the points-based system. The mandatory points equate to 50, and they are as follows:
- Offer of a job from a UK company with a sponsor licence: 20 points
- Job at an appropriate skill level: 20 points
- Speaks English to a certain standard: 10 points
The tradeable points are:
- Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 0 points
- Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 10 points
- Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher): 20 points
- Job in a shortage occupation: 20 points
- PhD in a subject relevant to the job: 10 points
- PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job: 20 points
Every job has a Standard Occupational Classification code, and each code has a designated skill level. The code determines whether the job is eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa route. A list of the occupational codes permitted under the Skilled Worker route can be found here.
UK Skilled Worker Route Application Process
The application process for a UK Skilled Worker Visa will not be too dissimilar to the current Tier 2 (General) Visa. You will need to apply online and provide documents and information which proves your eligibility for the new visa.
The specific documents which you will need to provide to the Home Office depends on your personal circumstances and the nature of your job.
That being said, you will definitely need to provide the following information/documents:
- A valid passport or other document which shows your identity and nationality
- A certificate of sponsorship reference number. (Your employer will give you this number)
- Your job’s occupation code
- Your job title and annual salary
- Proof of your knowledge of English (if applicable)
- Name of your employer and their sponsorship licence number
- Financial documents or bank statements which demonstrate that you have the means to financially support yourself in the UK (depending on your circumstances)
You may also need to provide a tuberculosis test certificate (depending on where you’re from), a criminal record certificate and proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you.
Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator. You need to include both the original documents and translated version in your portfolio of evidence.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Fee
The amount you need to pay for the Skilled Worker Visa depends on how long you will be staying in the UK, the type of job and where you are applying from.
Applications from outside the UK:
- £610 per person if applying for up to three years
- £1,220 per person if applying for more than three years
Applications from inside the UK, if extending, switching or updating your visa:
- £704 per person if applying for up to three years
- £1,408 per person if applying for more than three years
If your job is on the occupation shortage list, the fee is:
- £464 if staying for up to three years
- £928 if staying for more than three years
Immediate family members of those on a Skilled Workers Visa will be able to join them in the UK. A dependent is classed as:
- A spouse/civil partner or long-term, unmarried partner
- A child under 18-years-old
In some cases, other family members will also be able to join, such as a family member who requires intensive, long-term care. Each family member will need to pay the full application fee pertaining to the skilled worker’s application.
Do the New Rules Apply to EU Citizens?
Yes, from 1st January 2021, anyone wishing to apply for a UK visa, whether from a country outside or inside the EU, will need to meet the minimum points threshold of 70 points.
However, if an EU citizen is already living in the UK, they can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and wait until 31st June 2021 to make an application.
Are There Any Other UK Work Visas and Schemes?
The new Skilled Workers Visa will replace the Tier 2 (General) Visa. However, there are still a number of different routes which enable someone to work in the UK.
Health and Care Visa
This is designed for healthcare professionals. Whilst it is part of the Skilled Worker Visa route, there are slightly different rules within it.
Intra-company Transfer Route
The Intra-company Transfer Visa enables individuals working for a multinational company to work in the UK branch of the company.
This route requires applicants to be in roles skilled to RQF 6 (graduate level). They will also need to meet a different minimum salary threshold in comparison to the main skilled worker route.
From the summer of 2021, international students who have completed a degree in the UK will be able to remain in the UK for up to two years and work at any skill level. International students who complete a PhD will be able to stay in the UK for up to three years.
Global Talent Route
This is for highly skilled individuals in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology who have received endorsement by a recognised UK body. The current list of approved endorsing bodies are:
- The Royal Society, for science and medicine
- The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
- The British Academy, for humanities
- UK Research and Innovation, for science and research
- Tech Nation, for digital technology
- Arts Council England, for arts and culture
A person who is eligible for the Global Talent Route can enter the UK without a job offer.
Other possible routes to employment in the UK will include:
- Start up and Innovator Visa: These visas are designed to attract international entrepreneurs with innovative and scalable business ideas
- Creative route: Those working in the creative industry can remain in the United Kingdom for short-term work for up to 12 months under this route
- Sporting route: International sportspeople are eligible for this route if they have a confirmed job offer from a UK company with a sponsorship licence
- Youth Mobility Scheme: Around 20,000 young people (aged 18-30) can come to the UK to work and travel each year. They can remain in the UK for up to two years through this immigration permission. Only those from the following countries are eligible: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, San Marino and Taiwan