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Need to Know: Immigration Changes 2021

On 1 January 2021, the UK’s participation in EU freedom of movement will end and the new points-based immigration system will come into effect, bringing with it a whole new approach to immigration. To avoid encountering issues with immigration status once the new system comes into effect, understanding the nature of the changes is crucial.

If you’re concerned about how the new system will affect your status in the UK, contact our client care team today on 0333 305 9375.


On 1 January 2021, the Brexit transition period will draw to a close and the new points-based immigration system will come into effect, bringing with it a raft of changes. These changes will be wide-ranging, and will reconfigure the UK’s approach to immigration.

How will the new system work?

From 1 January 2021 onwards, the UK’s participation in EU freedom of movement will end, meaning that EU migrants can no longer freely travel to the UK for work. The end of freedom of movement also means that British citizens looking to move to an EU country will be subject to immigration controls, including those who want to move to Spain from the UK.

Instead, all workers will be subject to the new points-based system (PBS), which requires all applicants to score a minimum of 70 points based on possessing attributes such as a high level of English language proficiency and a job offer from an approved employer.

uk border

The new immigration system will subject EU citizens to the same immigration requirements as persons from the rest of the world.

What is the points-based system (PBS)?

The new points-based system is designed to limit the numbers of ‘low-skilled’ workers entering the UK while maximising the numbers of ‘high-skilled’ gaining entry. When it comes into effect on 1 January 2021, only applicants who score 70 points will satisfy the requirements for a UK Visa.

But before any points are accrued, applicants must first have a job offer that pays a minimum of £20,480 a year.

The first 50 points are gained from non-negotiable requirements. These are:

  • A job offer from a licensed sponsor (20)
  • The required standard of English language proficiency (10)
  • A job offer at skill level RQF3 (A-level equivalent) or higher (20)

Applicants must then earn at least 20 ‘tradeable points’- these are gained through displaying the following characteristics:

  • Having a job offer in a “shortage occupation” (20)
  • Being a “new entrant” to the labour market (20)
  • Having a PhD in a relevant STEM subject (20)
  • Having a PhD in a relevant non-STEM subject (10)
  • Earning at least £25,600 or the “going rate” for the profession, whichever is higher (20)

How does the salary threshold work?

Under the new PBS, all persons applying for a ‘skilled work’ visa must earn a bare minimum of £20,480. But in order to score additional 20 ‘tradeable’ points, most applicants will need to earn above this bare minimum.

The extra points are assigned to either set thresholds or the ‘going rate’ for the role- whichever is higher.

  • 10 points for earning at least £23,040 or 90% of the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
  • 20 points for earning at least £25,600 or 100% of the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
uk passport

A dedicated Health and Care Visa will be introduced, aimed at providing vital healthcare staff with an easier route into the UK.

What about NHS workers?

The new immigration system will include a dedicated Health and Care Visa designed to give fast-track entry, high-quality support and a discount on the £610 standard Skilled Worker Visa application fee.

Holders of this visa will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), as will any dependents they bring to the UK with them.

Health and Care Visa applicants must still meet the same basic requirements as other ‘skilled workers’, but will be exempt from the ‘tradeable’ requirements.

Persons applying for Health and Care Visas can secure an extra 20 points purely for possessing a job offer that pays £20,480- providing that is on the list of recognised healthcare professions.

If you need immigration support, you can speak with our LondonManchester, or Birmingham immigration lawyers. Alternatively, you can check our office finder for your closest branch. We look forward to assisting with your case.

We can help you if you need advice or assistance about how this change to the Immigration Rules affects you.

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