News article

Brexit: New points-based immigration system from January 2021

19 February 2020


Employers should be aware of the new points-based immigration system coming into effect on 1 January 2021 that may impact on the recruitment of migrant workers

The UK is introducing a new points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021 once freedom of movement with the European Union (EU) has ended. The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.

Visa application process

Applications for new immigration routes will open from autumn 2020 to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021. You’ll be able to apply and pay for your visa online. When you apply, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric information. See further details on the visa application process.

Skilled workers

The points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. From January 2021, the job you are offering will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A-level). The person you are offering the job to will also need to be able to speak English.

The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600. If you are offering less than this - but no less than £20,480 - the worker may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against your salary. For example, if your job offer is in a shortage occupation or the worker has a PhD relevant to the job.

If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021, and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now. See further details on skilled workers.

Global talent scheme

The global talent scheme will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

Low-skilled workers

There will not be an immigration route specifically for low-skilled workers. The seasonal agricultural visa pilot scheme will be expanded - recognising the significant reliance this sector has on low-skilled temporary workers.

Other visa routes

Short-term work visas in specific sectors (the current ‘Tier 5’) and investor, business development and talent visas (the current ‘Tier 1’) will be opened up to EU citizens.

Proving immigration status in the UK

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will use an online service to view their immigration status and to prove their status to others. See view and prove your settled or pre-settled status. Employers, landlords and public service providers will continue to accept EU citizens’ passports and identity cards as evidence of their immigration status until 30 June 2021.

See guidance for employers employing EU citizens in the UK with details on how to carry out right to work checks on EU citizens and their family members in the UK.

Non-EU citizens will continue to use a physical document to prove their immigration status.

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are currently employing EU, EEA or Swiss citizens you should make them aware of and encourage them to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. See EU Settlement Scheme: Helping EU workers apply to stay in Northern Ireland after 30 June 2021.