The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has published a policy statement setting out the UK's new points-based immigration system which will apply from 1 January 2021.
Under the new system, points will be assigned for a range of specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, as set out in the paper. These characteristics include the offer of a job by an approved sponsor, holding a PhD in a subject relevant to the job or a STEM subject relevant to the job and meeting a minimum salary threshold of £25,600.
A successful applicant will need to accrue a total of 70 points in order to be eligible to apply. They must demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that this offer is at the required skill level and that they can speak English.
For example, an individual who will earn:
- between £20,480 and £23,039 will receive 0 points
- between £23,040 and £25,599 will receive 10 points, and
- £25,600 or above will receive 20 points
Applicants will be able to ‘’trade’ some of these characteristics, such as a job offer and PhD in a STEM subject, against a salary that is lower than the minimum salary threshold – but no less than £20,480. The Home Office gives the example of an individual who holds a PhD in a STEM subject and has received a job offer as a university researcher in a related field paying £22,000: under the system, the individual may still be able to enter the UK.
Both EU and non-EU citizens will receive equal treatment but those holding the highest skills – including scientists and engineers – will be given top priority. Non-visa nationals, including EU citizens, will not require a visa if visiting the UK for less than six months.
The scheme will not introduce a general low-skilled or temporary work route. Applicants will need to be qualified to A-Level standard or equivalent. The 3.2 million EU citizens who have so far applied to the EU Settlement Scheme will be able to stay and work in the UK.
The paper states that initiatives will be brought forward for scientists, graduates, NHS workers and those in the agricultural sector to provide businesses will additional short-term flexibility. The Home Office will publish further details on these initiatives, the points table and qualifications in due course and will deliver a comprehensive programme of communication and engagement in the coming months.