UK Immigration: What you need to know about new point-based system

Be it students looking for study abroad options or professionals eyeing greener pastures overseas; UK has always been one of the most preferred destinations. However, getting through to the UK immigration process comes with its own set of challenges. With the UK snapping its ties with the rest of the EU on 31 December 2020 , it further aggravated the complexities of the entire process. With the end of freedom of movement for EU citizens, apprehensions grew even more. Subsequently, the UK government came up with revised point-based immigration policy enabling EU and non-EU nationals to apply for visas. As per the revised rule, you require a minimum of 70 points to be eligible for visa. Let’s understand more about the new visa system. More avenues for students The new system provides international students a visa breather. The international students taking the graduate route get two years to stay back in the country after completion of a graduate degree and the period is three years for Ph.D. scholars. Coming into force from July 1, 2021, apart from students, people considered as leaders in their field can work in the UK under the Global Talent route. This is applicable in the field of research, academic, digital technology, arts & culture. Options for skilled workers For skilled workers obtaining employer sponsorship is the primary route for bagging a job in the UK. Under the new system, an applicant is required to get points based on several factors such as qualification, skills, prospective income etc. an applicant needs to have a minimum of 70 points for visa eligibility. Additional 20 points are given if an applicant has a valid job offer from an approved sponsor. Occupation categories for skilled workers The new immigration system has clearly defined occupation categories for the skilled workers to apply for visas. As per UK’s Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), level 3 (A-Level qualifications) or more is considered eligible to apply for visa under skilled worker category. There are a whole lot of occupations officially recognised by the UK government and the good part is that several technical occupations that earlier didn’t make it to Tier 2 (General) visa may be eligible under this route. Rules for employers under new system An employer in the UK having a home office sponsor licence can hire professionals under the skilled workers category. However, the process is a little complex and an employer must carefully understand all rules & compliance procedures before sponsoring an employee. An employee must bear in mind that breaching any rule can not only negatively impact a visa application of a candidate but can also lead to revocation of sponsor licence. Economic of sponsoring The government fee structure for sponsoring an employee remains unchanged under the new system. Same as what was under the old Tier 2 (General) visa scheme, currently, it stands at £620 for a three-year visa and 1,220 for a five-year visa. However, it may not remain constant and can vary depending on factors such as the applicant’s nationality and job role shortage. On the other hand, while immigration health surcharge has witnessed an increase, employers will have to pay Immigration Skills Levy, a yearly fee imposed on businesses sponsoring migrant workers. Company transfers For employees working with multinational businesses with international offices, the new immigration system has made a provision for Intra-company Transfers (ICT). The transfer under the new rule is only possible if an employee has been working with the company for at least 12 months (9 months for a graduate intra-company trainee). Under the company transfer rule, the UK role of the applicant should be at NQF 6 level, while the minimum salary threshold stands at £41,500 (£23,000 for a graduate intra-company trainee). While the eligibility requirements are higher than the skilled workers, proving the English ability is not required. What does the new system say about EU and Non-EU citizens? The new system doesn’t differentiate between EU and non-EU citizens. Except citizens of Ireland, citizens from both EU and non-EU countries would require permission to live and work there. EU citizens who are already living in the country with either settled or pre-settled status need not apply for a work visa. While the new immigration system doesn’t favour EU citizens wanting to move to the UK for work, it promises to offer more avenues for qualified students, professionals and leaders with domain expertise.

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