On Monday 13 July, the Government published its latest guidelines on the UK’s new immigration system, which will amend the existing points-based immigration system in the country from 1 January 2021. The new system will end free movement with the EU and represents a significant change to immigration in the UK.

This article outlines the main changes in the most recent guidelines that employers should be aware of.

What has changed?

  • Skilled migrants from the EU and elsewhere looking to work in the UK will still need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor (and that they satisfy the English Language requirement).
  • The job offer must be at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (A level minimum). This skill level has decreased from a graduate level to an A level minimum.
  • The monthly cap on the number of people who can be sponsored under Tier 2 General will be scrapped.
  • The advertising process (the Resident Labour Market Test) has been scrapped.
  • Applicants will need to meet the minimum salary threshold. This will be either £25,600 per year for an experienced worker under Tier 2 General (which has been lowered from the current minimum of £30,000 per year), or the going rate according to the particular role – whichever is higher.
  • If they earn more than £20,480 per year, they may be able to be sponsored if the role is in a shortage occupation or a PhD role, by ‘trading’ characteristics.
  • The Global Talent route will be extended to EU citizens from January 2021.
  • A single, consistent and firmer approach to criminality will be introduced.
  • Most migrants who are already in the UK with a valid visa will be able to switch to another visa category, without having to leave the UK.
  • A Health and Care Visa will be introduced; however, this confusingly does not cover care workers.
  • The 12 months ‘cooling off’ period for Intra Company Transfer migrants is to be removed.
  • Students can come to the UK 6 months before their course is due to start (this has been extended from 3 months).
  • A new Graduate route is to be introduced, where undergraduate and master’s degree students can apply for a two-year Graduate visa. PhD students can apply for a 3-year visa. Both routes do not need to be sponsored and the migrants should be able to switch into work routes in the UK.
  • Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee, the Government will seek to introduce a new, unsponsored route within the Points Based System for a smaller number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. There is no date given at present for the launch of this scheme, though it is likely to be 2022.