Prelims cum Mains

UK launches a new points-based immigration system

The News:

  • With the aim of attracting the ‘brightest and the best’ from the world, including from India, and cutting down numbers of cheap, low-skilled workers coming to the country, UK has introduced the new points-based immigration system.



  • After Brexit, the UK is currently in a transition period until the end of 2020, during which time the UK and EU are expected to negotiate rules on trade, travel, and business.
  • Until the transition period gets over, the pre-Brexit rules will continue to apply.
  • Before Brexit, EU citizens had unrestricted rights to work in the UK to stay and work under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
  • The new system will take effect from January 1, 2021 (after the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU)) and will replace the Tier 1 and Tier 2 schemes.

Objective of the move:

  • The UK aims to reduce the overall levels of migration, with tighter security and a “better experience” for those coming into the UK, attracting high-skilled workers.


What is UK’s new points-based immigration system?

  • Under this system, points will be assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will be awarded to those who will have enough points.
  • Skilled migrants will now require 70 points to be eligible to apply to enter the UK to work. The points will be allotted in the following manner:
    • offer of job by approved sponsor (20)
    • job at appropriate skill level (20)
    • speaks English at required level (10)
    • salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 (0)
    • salary of £23,040 – £25,599 (10)
    • salary of £25,600 or above (20)
    • job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) (20)
    • education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job (10)
    • education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (20)
    • Note: Out of these characteristics, the first three are not tradeable, which means they are absolutely required to be eligible for visa under the points-based system.
  • Additionally, a small number of some of the most highly-skilled workers may be able to come to the UK without a job offer, but the details of how this work out haven’t been specified yet. As per MAC’s current list of shortage jobs, the following are included: civil engineers, medical practitioners, classical ballet dancers and psychologists.
  • There will be no resident labour market test, skilled workers can be accompanied by dependents and they will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency).
  • There will be no general low-skilled or temporary work route.
  • The new system will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India.
  • The new single global system for workers will replace the “free movement” that has existed between the UK and the EU, allowing an unlimited number of EU citizens to live and work in the UK and vice versa, without the need for any visa.
    • Freedom of movement ends when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020.
  • Note: The implementation of the points-based system does not change the status of those EU citizens already in the UK as per EUSS and those whose status under EUSS is settled.


Criteria for professionals:

  • All applicants would require a job offer with an employer, a minimum salary of £25,600 a year, the ability to speak English and an A-level qualification or equivalent will be mandatory under the new skilled worker route.
  • Under the current Tier 2 system, skilled workers need a degree and a £30,000 minimum salary.
  • Those who don’t meet the salary threshold will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics such as having a job offer in a shortage occupation or having a PhD relevant to the job, against a lower salary, provided they will earn above £20,480.

Criteria for Students:

  • Student visa routes will also be points-based and those wishing to study in the UK will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, that they can support themselves financially and that they speak English.
  • The cap on the numbers of skilled workers is being scrapped and a small number of highly skilled workers will be allowed to enter without a job offer.


Significance of the move:

  • The new system will expand the skills threshold for skilled workers.
  • Thousands more highly skilled Indians could potentially work in Britain.
  • Those looking to live and work in the UK will need to be qualified up to A-level or equivalent, rather than degree-level under the current system.
  • This will provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers.


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