Want to start working in the UK and need to understand the new immigration rules? Well, well, well... you came to the right place! In case you didn't know, in our last blog post I explained what right to work changes came into effect after Brexit on July 1st, 2021. Today, I will tell you everything you need to know about the UK points system. Let's get started!
EU citizens in the UK
If that's you, calm down because you've got nothing to worry about. Granted, you applied for the UK Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. As you know, after Brexit anyone (except from British and Irish citizens) coming into the United Kingdom in 2021 needs a visa. Even EU citizens or EEA nationals. To find out how the new immigration law works, keep reading.
So who can apply?
After free movement between EU and UK ended on 31st December 2020, UK implemented a points-based immigration system. The new immigration law treats everyone equally and anyone needs to apply for a visa, apart from British and Irish citizens.
However, you can only apply for a visa once u have a CONFIRMED job offer and a permission to apply. Also, if you want to work in the UK, your employer will need a sponsor licence. Similarly, if you apply for a student visa you will need a confirmation of an offer from your educational institution as well.
Immigration Skills Charge
As a UK employer, you will pay this fee for each of the skilled workers you employed through Skilled worker and Intra-company Transfer routes.
So, whether you sponsor an EU or non-EU worker you must still pay the charge. That is, £1,000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months and £500 for each six-month period after that. However, there are some discounts for charities and small businesses which you might want to see if it applies to you!
Coming to work
If you're an employer, you now will need a sponsor license to hire most non-UK employees. The application processing time usually takes eight weeks and will start from the moment your application is received. But, before you do that you should first check if the person you want to employ meets all the requirements to come and work in the UK.
Under the points-based immigration system, anyone coming to the UK for work must meet a specific set of requirements for which they will score points. Visas are only awarded to those who gain enough points.
However, there are several different immigration rules. What does that mean for you? It means, that the system provides flexible arrangements for UK employers to recruit skilled workers from around the world. Stay with me, I'll tell you how.
New UK Immigration Rules Explained
The UK already had a points-based system before. So how different is it from the 'new' UK points system? Well, it's now easier to get a work visa because the minimum skill salary was lowered.
Moreover, the resident labour market test was scrapped. What it means, is that everyone will have equal chance to get an offer - both settled workers in the UK and migrants. Also, the new system allows a few ways to trade points to get the required amount.
Does your job meet the required skill level?
If you want to start working in the UK, first you should check if your job meets the required skill level to fall under the Skilled Worker route. Each job has a SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code. Once you find your code you can see the skill level it corresponds to. This will determine if you can apply for the Skilled Worker Route.
I won't list all of them here because this post would turn into a novel. So, once you've finished reading this blog go to the further details section in the immigration system guidance to find the full list of codes.
So, anyone coming to work to the UK for work must show they meet specific requirements to get points. You need a minimum of 70 points to apply to work under the new UK immigration rules. This, of course doesn't apply if you're an Irish or a British citizen. Good news is, there is no cap on the number of applicants for the Skilled Worker route!
As an employer, you need a sponsor licence to hire most employees from outside of the UK. Although, this doesn't apply to Irish citizens or EU workers who have a settled or pre-settled status.
Anyone you want to hire under the Skilled Worker route, must show that:
- they speak English to the required standard
- they got a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
- the job offer they got is at the required RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent) skill level
Moreover, the job offer must meet the minimum salary threshold, equal to or higher than:
- general salary threshold of £25,600, OR
- specific salary requirement for their occupation called the ‘going rate’
To see the 'going rate' for chosen occupations look at Annex E in the further details statement.
What if the salary is lower than the required minimum threshold?
Well, work visa applicants can trade their characteristics to get more points. How, you ask? First, the salary must be no less that £20,480. Second, they might get the required number of points by trading their characteristics such as:
- a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
- a PhD, but it must be relevant to the job
- a PhD in a STEM, the subject must be relevant to the job
There are also exceptions to salary rules for workers in some health or education jobs. Additionally, ’new entrants‘ will get a discount to the going rate for new entrants of 30% BUT they must earn a minimum of £20,480 after the discount.
You can find a table with all points, characteristics and case studies explaining everything here.
Global Talent route
Open to EU and non-EU citizens, this route allows for the most highly skilled to enter the UK without a job offer. If that's you, you'll still need the required 70 points. Moreover, you must be endorsed by one of these UK bodies, approved by the Home Office:
- 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
Are you an international student who completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021? If the answer is yes, you will be allowed to remain in the UK and work at any skill level for two years after completing your studies!
Plus, if you're an international PhD student from summer 2021, you can stay in the UK for three years after study to live and work. The idea is to help some of the best international graduates to find skilled jobs in the UK and boots the economy.
Other UK Immigration Routes
Apart from the already mentioned ones, there are also routes such as:
- Intra-company Transfer
- Start-up and Innovator
- Health and Care Visa
- Creative route
- Sporting routes
- Seasonal Workers Pilot
- Youth Mobility Scheme
To read more about them, look here.
Are you still here? I know this post turned out a bit wordy... So, if you stayed until the end, you're a star! Hopefully, you've learned something and I managed to help you understand the new UK immigration rules. Do you need a job that'll help you get the required points? We've got thousands of vacancies that offer salaries with the minimum £25,600 salary threshold and more!