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Brexit – The New Points Based System


New immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 for applications to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021. The government has presented the new system, which would come into force after the Brexit transition period ends on the 31 December 2020   2021, as “the new Points-Based System” (new PBS). This new system puts EU and non-EU citizens on the same route, thereby ensuring that only the most skilled are able to come to the United Kingdom. The new PBS will replace the current Tier 2 (General) route.

As with the current system, a Sponsor Licence is the Key to the new PBS. Applicants must reach 70 points to qualify, 50 mandatory points from 3 attributes (a) Sponsorship from a registered sponsor (b) job offer for skill level RQF 3 or above (c) Required proficiency in English. The remaining 20 pints can be secured from having a salary over £25600 or additional points. Please see below Table 1 for further details.

Table 1.

Points Based System

Source: The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System

Salary and Skills Thresholds:

As per the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation (MAC), the Home Office has taken the decision to reduce the general salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600. Migrants will still need to be paid the higher of the specific salary threshold for their occupation and the above general salary threshold. However, as set out in the table above, under the points- based system for skilled workers, applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a lower salary.

The Home Office is implementing the MAC’s recommendation to bring the skills threshold down from RQF6 to RQF3 (i.e. from the requirement to have a Bachelor’s degree or higher to having secondary education or higher). It will be easier to employ people at “medium level” skills.  RQF Level 3 jobs which have been largely excluded from the current Tier 2 visa system are included in the new PBS.

The new PBS removes the cap on the number of people who can come on the skilled worker route and removes the resident labour market test. These changes will ensure that a wide pool of skilled workers will be able to come to the UK from anywhere in the world and the process will be made simpler and quicker for employers.

Skilled Workers:

The new PBS will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system. 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. In addition to this, if the applicant earns more than the minimum salary threshold then the individual would be eligible to make an application. However, if they earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be able to come if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, as designated by the MAC, or that they have a PhD relevant to the job. In effect, applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a salary lower than the minimum salary or the ‘going rate’ in their field.

The MAC will be commissioned to produce a shortage occupation list covering all jobs encompassed by the skilled worker route and to keep the list under regular review. Allocating extra points for occupations that the MAC determines to be in shortage in the UK will provide immediate temporary relief for shortage areas, making it easier to recruit migrants.

Highly Skilled Workers:

From January 2021, the Home Office will extend the current Global Talent route to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. The most highly skilled, who can achieve the required level of points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a relevant and competent body. This scheme has recently been expanded to be more accessible to those with a background in STEM subjects who wish to come to the UK. The Home Office is currently working on creating a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system. This route will be capped and will be similar to that of the current Start Up and Innovator Route.

Lower-Skilled Workers:

There will be no route for lower skilled workers.

Recruitment businesses are not permitted to offer visa support but are delighted to be partnering with our Legal / Immigration partners – Silk Route Legal

If you, as a Company, know you require EEA nationals in the UK which, come 2021, will require sponsorship or indeed may not be eligible for a UK visa at all, there are strong arguments for expediting that recruitment. For those who cannot be expedited and will require Tier 2 sponsorship, employers should begin considering the eligibility of such roles, and individuals, for sponsorship under the new requirements.

Our partners, Silk Route Legal and its immigration team have successfully applied over 300 Sponsor Licence applications for small/medium/large companies in the UK, under the Tier 2 General/ Tier 2 ICT/ Tier 5 routes. Their service extend to maintaining the License by putting in place strong compliance practices. The service includes but is not limited to:

Advice and assistance in making Sponsor licence applications;

  • Assistance with maintaining the Sponsor Management System (SMS)
  • Compliance audits
  • Assistance with allocating the correct Standard occupation code (SOC)
  • Allocation of Certificate of sponsorship
  • Reporting and record keeping
  • Assistance with the visa application process

The two key aspects of this new system are to become a registered sponsor and to maintain the licence by putting in place a tailor-made compliance practice. Silk Route Legal have the expertise and the experience in dealing with these two key aspects.

If you have immigration queries in relation to the Sponsor Licence or the new PBS system, please complete our contact form contract form and we will arrange an introduction to the team.