The UK’s Points-based immigration system: What you need to know

Now that the United Kingdom has left the European Union, it’s important to know what this means for UK companies looking to hire from the EU. There’s plenty of guidance online, and we thought we would compile an easy to understand summary.

 

When is it happening and who is affected?

On 1st January 2021, the points-based immigration system came into play. The system treats EU and non-EU citizens equally, and anyone coming to the UK will need to apply a visa in advance.

Under the new system, anyone coming to the UK to work must meet a specific set of requirements, which will award a visa to those who gain enough points.

It’s important to note that EU citizens that already lived in the UK before 31st December 2020 can still apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021 and will be unaffected. The government have agreed employers may continue to accept the passports and identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work up until 30th June 2021.

 

How does it work?

Under the new system, anyone coming to the UK for work must achieve 70 points. They will need to meet a criteria:

  • They have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor
  • The job offer is at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A level and equivalent)
  • They speak English to the required standard

Additionally, the job offer must meet the applicable minimum threshold. This is the higher of either:

  • The general salary threshold set by Her Majesty’s Government on advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee at £25,600, or
  • The specific salary requirement for their occupation, known as the “going rate”

If the job offer is less than the required amount, but no less than £20,480, an applicant may still be eligible by trading their characteristics, such as their qualifications:

  • A job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • A PhD relevant to the job
  • A PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

The salary rules are different for workers in certain health or education, and for “new entrants” at the start of their careers. You can find more information on the “going rate” for specific occupations in Annex E here.

 

Characteristics Mandatory/Tradeable Points
 

Offer of a job by approved sponsor

 

 

Mandatory

 

 

20

 

Job at appropriate skill level

 

Mandatory

 

20

 

Speaks English at require level

 

Mandatory

 

10

 

Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)

 

Tradeable

 

0

 

Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)

 

Tradeable

 

10

 

Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)

 

Tradeable

 

20

 

Job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee

 

Tradeable

 

20

 

Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job

 

Tradeable

 

10

 

Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

 

Tradeable

 

20

 

 

How does a job meet the required skill level?

All jobs have a corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. Each SOC code has a designated skill level, and this determines whether the job meets the requirements.

The full list of occupation codes allowed under the system are subject to change and can be found here. The immigration rules will be updated to expand this list and will be based on the advice already published by the Migration Advisory Committee. We will do our best to release further statements on this as and when they’re announced but do keep an eye on the gov.uk website for more information.

 

What will it cost?

You will need to pay the Immigrations Skills Charge (ISC) when sponsoring both EU and non-EU migrant workers. You must pay £1,000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months, with an additional £500 charge for each subsequent six-month period. There will be discounted rates for charities and small businesses.

 

What about the Global Talent route?

The current Global Talent route will open to EU citizens as it is for non-EU citizens now. This means the most highly skilled, who can achieve the 70 required points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a recognised UK body, as approved by the Home Office.

An employer will not need to be a licensed visa sponsor to employ an EU citizen under the Global Talent route.

The current list of approved endorsing bodies is as follows:

  • 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

Whilst in our industry this isn’t going to be suitable in most cases, it’s worth considering and researching.

 

The Graduate route

Students who complete a degree in the UK from summer 2021 will be able to remain in the UK, unsponsored and at any skill level, for two years through the Graduate Visa. Those that complete a PhD from summer 2021 can stay in the UK for three years.

 

Intra-company Transfer

The Intra-company Transfer (ICT) route allows multinational organisations to facilitate temporary moves into the UK for key business personnel through their subsidiary branches, subject to sponsorship requirements being met. The route will require applicants to be in roles skilled to RFQ 6 (graduate level), and subject to a different minimum salary threshold from the main skilled worker route.

 

The Creative Route

This route might prove to be popular for the art & design section of our industry, as it will allow applicants of all nationalities to enter the UK for short-term contracts or engagements of up to 12 months, with only a confirmed job offer and their employment sponsored by a UK employer licensed by the Home Office.

The conditions and requirements:

 

Requirements   Conditions and restrictions  
 

English language

 

 

No

 

 

Capped

 

 

No

 

Application fee

 

Yes

 

Switching – employers

 

Yes

 

Immigrations Skills

Charge

No

 

Switching – routes (in country)

 

Yes

 

Immigration Health Surcharge

 

Yes

 

Settlement

 

No

 

Biometrics

 

Yes

 

Dependants

 

Yes

 

Maintenance

 

Yes

 

Access to public funds

 

No

 

Supplementary work Yes

 

You can find more details on this route here.

 

Youth Mobility Scheme

Another route that might prove popular in some cases with our industry. The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) is a temporary route which exists to provide young people, from participating countries, with an opportunity to experience life in the UK, enabling them to work and travel for up to two years.

The UK currently operates eight YMS arrangements with Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and Taiwan. As it stands the UK is open to more YMS agreements with other countries and territories, and we’re certainly hopeful this happens.

The conditions and requirements:

 

Requirements   Conditions and restrictions  
English language

 

No

 

Capped

 

Yes

 

Application fee

 

Yes

 

Switching – routes (in country)

 

Yes

 

Immigrations Skills Charge

 

No

 

Settlement

 

No

 

Immigration Health Surcharge

 

Yes

 

Dependants

 

No

 

Biometrics

 

Yes

 

Access to public funds

 

No

 

Maintenance

 

Yes

 

Supplementary work

 

Yes

 

 

Again, you can find more details on this route here.

 

So, how do we become a licensed sponsor?
  1. Check your business is eligible.

To get a license, you cannot have:

  • Unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering
  • Any history of failing to carry out your sponsorship duties

You’ll need appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees i.e. HR systems in place that let you:

  • Monitor your employees’ immigration status
  • Keep copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
  • Track and record employees’ attendance
  • Keep employee contact details up to date
  • Report to UKVI if there is a problem, for example is your employee stops coming to work

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will review your application form and supporting documents. They may visit your business to make sure you’re trustworthy and capable of carrying out your duties.

 

  1. Choose the type of license you want to apply for – this will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor.

The license you need depends on whether the workers you want to fill your jobs are:

  • Tier 2 – skilled workers with long-terms job offers
  • Tier 5 – skilled temporary workers

You can of course apply for a license covering both if necessary.

 

  1. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.

You need to appoint people within the business to manage the sponsorship when you apply for a license. The main tool they’ll use is the sponsorship management system (SMS). There are 3 roles that must be appointed:

  • Authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key contact – your main point of contact with the UKVI
  • Level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your license using the SMS

These roles can be filled by the same person if necessary. The staff you appoint to these roles will be checked to make sure they’re suitable. You can find what is involved in the suitability checks here.

 

  1. Apply online and pay the fee.

The sponsor license application is done online here, but also requires a submission sheet to be posted to the UKVI, along with other supporting documents. In most cases applications are dealt with in less than 8 weeks.

There is of course a fee to be paid when you apply, and here is the breakdown:

 

Type of license Fee for small or charitable sponsors Fee for medium or large sponsors
Tier 2

 

£536

 

£1,476

 

Tier 5

 

£536

 

£536

 

Tier 2 and 5

 

£536

 

£1,476

 

Add a Tier 2 to an existing Tier 5

 

No fee

 

£940

 

Add a Tier 5 to an existing Tier 2

 

No fee

 

No fee

 

You can find any information on the application process here.

 

All of the information in this article was re-produced from the gov.uk website, and you can find clarification on all of it there – https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers.

 

mm
Operations Manager

Copyright © 2021 OPMjobs Ltd. 408 Wellington House, 90-92 Butt Rd, Colchester, CO3 3DA, United Kingdom