Government publishes new immigration regime proposals

On Wednesday 19 February 2020, the UK government  published a policy paper setting out its plan for the new UK immigration system for skilled migration.

For those who sponsor individuals, key points are:

  • As expected, the government will scrap the resident labour market test (RLMT) and the current cap on skilled worker visas.
  • It will lower the skill threshold for sponsorship from RQF Level 6 (equivalent to degree level) to RQF Level 3 (equivalent to A-Levels).
  • The government will maintain the Immigration Skills Charge and Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • Self-employed individuals will not be permitted to apply under this route. Instead they will need to come under alternative immigration routes such as the Innovator category or under the (yet to be announced) “highly skilled route”.
  • In order for an individual to be eligible to be sponsored work visa, they will need to score 70 points. The points will be scored as follows:
    • Mandatory 20 points for a job offer by an approved sponsor;
    • Mandatory 20 points for a job which is at the appropriate skill level;
    • Mandatory 10 points for meeting a minimum level of English language – this is currently set at either holding a degree taught in English or passing an English language test to level B1 of the CEFR;
    • Tradable points for:
      • Salary (10 or 20 points depending on UK proposed salary);
      • The job being a shortage occupation list (20 points) – the current types of shortage roles are doctors, nurses, certain teaching subjects, certain engineering professionals etc;
      • The role being subject to a PhD qualification (10 or 20 points, depending on the PhD subject).

The current sponsorship system will remain in place and the UK government strongly recommends that businesses apply for a sponsor licence now if they intend to sponsor individuals under this new system.

Other pertinent points:

  • EU nationals will continue to be able to use the e-gates at UK airports when entering the UK.
  • For right to work checks, employers will be able to continue to accept EU passports and EU identity cards are evidence of a right to work until 30 June 2021.
  • There will, however, be a phased out acceptance of EU identity cards – further information on this plan will be introduced shortly.
  • The government will create a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system.

This new system will take effect on 1 January 2021 and will have a phased introduction in 2020.

If you would like further information about the above or have any immigration questions, please contact Lisa Roberts.