The UK’s points-based immigration system: an introduction for employers

As free movement comes to an end from 1 January 2021, the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. With the aim of treating EU and non-EU citizens equally, points are assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries, and shortage occupations. Thus, visas will be granted to those who accrue enough points and employers must adapt to these changes in order to comply.

Here’s what you need to know.

(Updated as of 09 April 2020)

EU citizens already living in the UK

  • The new system does not apply to EU citizens and family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 who are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Employers can continue to accept passports and identity cards of EU citizens as evidence of their right to work until 30 June 2021

Skilled workers

From 1 January 2021, skilled workers must demonstrate that:

  • their job offer is from a Home Office approved sponsor
  • their job is at skill level RQF 3 or above (A level equivalent)
  • they speak English


  • they are eligible to make an application if they earn more than the required minimum salary
  • they may still be eligible (if they earn less than the required minimum salary), if their job offer is in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job

All jobs will have a corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). Details of which can be found using the ONS Occupation Coding Tool.

Highly skilled workers

“From January 2021, the current Global Talent route will open to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. This means the most highly skilled, who can achieve the required level of points, will be able to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by the relevant competent body.”

Lower skilled workers

“There will not be an immigration route specifically for those who do not meet the skills or salary threshold for the skilled worker route.

The new immigration system provides greater flexibility for employers with changes to salary and skills thresholds. Employers can also benefit from the youth mobility scheme. The UK has arrangements in place with eight countries and territories to enable around 20,000 young people to come to the UK each year.”

Other routes

Initiatives are also being brought forward for scientists, graduates and NHS workers, which will provide businesses with additional flexibility. A new Graduate Immigration Route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. This will enable international students to remain in the UK and work at any skill level for two years after they have completed their studies.”

Becoming an approved sponsor

  • To become an approved sponsor, visit UK visa sponsorship for employers
  • Standard processing time for an application is 8 weeks
  • You cannot get a license if you have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes such as money laundering or fraud
  • You can apply for either a:
    • tier 2 license – skilled workers with long term job offers
    • tier 5 license – skilled temporary workers
    • or a license covering both
  • The sponsorship process must be managed internally with role for:
    • authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
    • key contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
    • level 1 user – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

Please note: the roles can be filled by the same person or numerous individuals

For more information on the UK’s points-based immigration system: an introduction for employers, send an email to or contact us on 01204 531 535 to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

To limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), until further notice, our drop-in service and all scheduled appointments will be held remotely. Please be advised that whilst our remote drop-in service will be held on Mondays between 10am – 1:30pm, our Friday service (usually held in Preston) has been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

Thank you for your cooperation and stay safe.

Compass Immigration Law LTD:

“The direct route to immigration expertise.”

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