Understanding the New Points-Based UK Immigration System


As Brexit draws closer, the issue of immigration begins to become more important for far more people. From 1st January 2021, the UK will introduce a new points-based system for immigration control that will apply to any non-UK or Irish national wanted to make the move to the UK. Leaving the EU means that for the first time in decades, EEA (European Economic Area) nationals will have to apply to move to the UK just like residents from further afield.

Can People Visit the UK Without a Visa?

Visiting the UK won’t change much for EEA nationals as there are no points requirements to enter the UK. Whilst EEA nationals previously enjoyed ‘free movement’, from January 2021 they will be categorised as ‘non-visa visitors’, meaning that they do not have to apply for a visa before visiting.

They can apply on arrival as a visitor and stay for up to 180 days. However, they will not be allowed to undertake any work or long-term study, other than exceptions such as visiting to attend a conference, meeting, training etc.

New Points-Based System

For people looking to move to the UK for a job, a new points-based system will be in place from 1st January 2021. Under this system, an applicant will need to be able to evidence that they can achieve 70 points in order to be eligible to apply to enter the UK to work.

A person must be able to demonstrate that they achieve 50 mandatory points which require:

  • An offer of a job by an approved sponsor – 20 points
  • The job must be at an appropriate skill level – 20 points
  • English language skills at level B1 (intermediate) – 10 points

An applicant who has these 50 points must then be able to demonstrate that the salary of job they have is at an appropriate level. If the salary doesn’t meet the threshold, the applicant will score 0.

However, there are several characteristics which are ‘tradable’. These characteristics are as follows:

  • A PhD in a subject relevant to the job – 10 points
  • A PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job – 20 points
  • A job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) – 20 points
  • The applicant is a new entrant to the labour market (as designated by the MAC) – 20 points

If an applicant has any of these characteristics, they can ‘trade’ them for having a job with a lower salary.

Future Points-Based Systems

The UK Government has stated its intention to introduce a ‘non-sponsored’ points-based system, similar to the one found in Australia. This will not be introduced on 1st January 2021. However, when it is introduced, it will allow people to be granted points based on non-work criteria such as age, earning potential and academic achievements. This will give people who do not have a job offer the ability to move to the UK and seek work once they have arrived.

The changes to immigration and the points-based system can appear confusing as different rules apply depending on your specific circumstances. If you require advice on immigration or assistance in finding a job that will allow you to move to the UK, get in touch with Move Jobs today.