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Home > News > Changes to the points based Immigration system given the green light

Changes to the points based Immigration system given the green light

01 May 2020 | Melissa Toney

The Government proposed changes to the new points based Immigration system will go live from Autumn 2020 it has been confirmed.

As the world focuses on responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, other parts of government are still quietly preparing for that other issue which has dominated much of our lives over the last 2 years – Brexit.

Guide to the new points-based immigration system

Following on from the Government’s policy statement made in February 2020 for the proposed ‘new’ points-based immigration system, the Home Office have now published an introductory guide to the new system for employers in continued preparation of the transition period. The new guide holds no surprises from that which had previously been announced, and the message echoed is the same: ‘The points-based system will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK through an employer-led system’.

It does however serve as a timely reminder for employers of several key points regarding the proposed new immigration system:

  • From 1 January 2021 EU nationals will need to apply in advance for permission to come to the UK for any purpose other than visiting.
  • Employer sponsorship of skilled workers (similar to the current Tier 2 arrangements) will continue to be the main route for workers coming to the UK.
  • There will be no immigration route specifically for so-called lower-skilled workers.

The guidance helps distinguish EU nationals from other migrants from outside the EU by highlighting:

  • EU nationals will be granted digital status.
  • EU nationals will be required to prove their status via an online checking service, rather than using a biometric residence permit or an endorsement in their passport.
  • To allow for the fact that there will be some EU nationals who already reside in the UK and therefore eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, but have until 30 June 2021 to submit their applications. Employers can continue to accept EU passports and national identity cards as evidence of an EU national’s right to work up until 30 June 2021.

Very similar to the current points-based system migrants looking to work in the UK under the sponsored worker category will need to show that:

  • They have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor.
  • The job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent).
  • They can speak English.
  • They will earn at least £25,600. If they will be earning less than that, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job.

Updated guidance for sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrant workers

In addition to the new promotional material, the Home Office have updated the Guidance for Sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants. There is a new annex encouraging employers who are not currently Tier 2 sponsors to apply now if they intend to sponsor skilled migrants – including those from the EU, from early 2021. The new annex summarises the main requirements for sponsorship under the new immigration system, including the requirement that employer sponsors will need to demonstrate that they are able to offer genuine employment skilled to RQF level 3 or above. However, there is a warning that the list of roles which are currently considered to be RQF level 3 is a ‘first draft’ and it may change before the new system goes live.

What steps should employers be taking now?

The proposed changes to the immigration system will be introduced in Autumn 2020, giving a clear 8 weeks of processing of the applications using the new rules by those who wish to work in the UK from 1 January 2021.

Therefore, employers who are not currently sponsors, but believe they may need to sponsor skilled workers under the new system are encouraged to apply for a sponsor licence as early as possible. Please contact us for more details if you would like assistance with an application to register as a sponsor

Specialist employment & immigration legal advice

If you have any questions about how to manage the new system please contact our specialist employment and immigration solicitors in Bristol or London. Call 0117 906 9400 or email 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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