The UK's new points-based system: What it means for businesses and much more
Free movement of people will end from 01 January 2021 and UK will introduce points-based system (PBS). A lot of immigration categories withing the UK are already points-based system. So how is this different? The new points-based system is part of a wider multi-year plan of change, led by whitehall which will transform the operation of the UKVI.
Who is UKVI?
UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) is responsible for making millions of decisions every year about who has rights to visit or stay in the UK, with a firm emphasis on national security. This includes considering applications for British citizenship from overseas nationals who wish to settle here permanently; running the UK’s asylum service offering protection to those eligible under the 1951 Geneva Convention; deciding on applications from employers and educational establishments who want to join the register of sponsors; managing appeals from unsuccessful applicants.
The Director General of UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) is responsible for leading a workforce of around 10,000 people based in locations around the UK and in over 130 countries worldwide who manage over 4 million immigration applications each year. UKVI is also responsible for managing the EU Settlement Scheme, with more than 2.5 million applications received since opening.
How this will affect EU migrants and employers in the UK?
Until 31 December 2020, EU workers can work for any employer in the UK. If a worker has not applied for the settlement scheme by 31 December 2020, he/she would no longer be able to work in the UK. Or if the employer wants to continue employing such workers, they will need to apply for Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.
Currently employers only need a Tier 2 Sponsor licence if they are employing someone from outside the EEA and Switzerland. If you are considering employing EU migrants after 31 December 2020, now is the right time to apply for the Tier 2 Sponsor licence. Please check the Eligibility Checker and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Fees here. This is online application and straight forward. However, when a sponsor is granted a Tier 2 sponsor licence, UK Home Office places significant trust in them. With this trust comes a direct responsibility to act in accordance with the UK Immigration Rules & Regulations, all parts of the Tiers 2 sponsor guidance.
Challenges for UK employers post transition period
On 13th July 2020 the Home Secretary the Rt Hon Priti Patel published further details of the proposed UK points-based system, which will take effect on 1 January 2021 when the transition agreement with the EU comes to an end.
Visitors will still be admitted without visas for 6 months but those coming for more than 6 months (e.g. to work / study / settle in the UK) will need to apply “online” for permission. There will be no requirement to register biometrics at this stage although those that cannot apply via the self-enrolment app / online will have to attend a visa application centre (VAC) abroad or (if already here) the UK equivalent. In the longer term all visitors and migrants entering or remaining in the UK (including visitors) will be required to provide biometrics (face and finger) under the new single Global Immigration System. They will require either a visa or a new electronic travel authorisation (ETA) to enter the system.
All EU citizens (and non-EU citizens) who are allowed to remain will be given “written confirmation” of their immigration status but they will not be issued with any physical token or stamp. Right to work / rent / study etc will be verifiable by a new “online” service thus reducing the need for employers / landlords to check paper documents.
With this changes the role of HR compliance managers is going to get more complex and challenging eventually. Have you given your compliance managers/HR the right tools?
The new points-based system will assign points to applicants for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations and those seeking entry to the UK to work will only be granted visas once they can demonstrate that they have accumulated 70 points to enter.
Those wishing to enter the UK to work as a skilled worker will therefore need to demonstrate:
- Job Offer – Immigrants they have a job offer from a Home Office approved Tier 2 sponsor.
- Skill Level – that the job offer is at the required the UK's Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF 3) or above skill level (i.e. A-Level or equivalent).
- Language – that the migrant worker can speak English.
- Minimum Salary Threshold – that the migrant worker earns more than the required minimum salary threshold of £25,600 or the appropriate rate for that specific job as set by the UKVI. Or,
- Shortage Occupation – if they cannot demonstrate that they earn more than the required minimum salary threshold but can demonstrate a salary of at least £20,480, approval may still be granted where the job offer is in a specific shortage occupation (e.g. civil engineering, medical practitioner, doctors, nurses, graphic designers etc).