HOME secretary Priti Patel is set to unveil the UK’s new points based immigration system today to stop unskilled EU migrants heading to Britain for work post Brexit.
Under the new system, foreign nationals will have to meet a strict set of criteria. Here’s how the new initiative works.
What is Priti Patel’s new points-based immigration system?
This morning the Home Office will publish a full 130-page document with more details on how the system will work after Brexit.
Announcing the new system on February 19, 2020, she said: “Today is a historic moment for the whole country. We’re ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people’s priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down.
“We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”
The Home Office document sets out details of the new points-based system, which is due to come into force from January 1, 2021, when free movement from the EU halts.
Under the new system, foreign nationals applying to come to the UK for work purposes will have to meet certain criteria.
It will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions, and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points.
Minimum requirements will include having a job offer from an approved sponsor that suits their skill level and being able to speak English.
How many points do workers need to come to the UK?
Foreign nationals wishing to come to the UK for work purposes will need to score 70 points to successfully apply for an online “e-visa”.
If an applicant meets the criteria of the minimum requirements, they will be awarded 50 points.
But to score above this threshold they will have to meet other criteria based on salary, seeking to work in a sector with a recognised labour shortage or a having a PhD.
While most will be expected to earn a minimum of £23,040 a year, some such as lab technicians with prized skills will be able to come in with a salary as low as £20,480.
What are low-skilled and high-skilled occupations?
To score 50 points, foreign nationals will need to be able to prove they have a job offer from an approved sponsor that is appropriate to their skill level.
They will also be able to speak English at a level specified by the Home Office.
A further 20 points will be scored if the job is in an occupation with a labour shortage such as engineering or information technology.
While a university doctorate gives ten points with the figure rising to 20 points if the qualification is in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
Ten points will be awarded for an annual salary of £23,040, rising to 20 points over £25,600.
A builder’s labourer who cannot speak English but has been offered a salary of £18,000, for instance, would only score 20 points and would be blocked from coming to the UK to work.
Likewise, a skilled plumber with good English on £24,000-a -year, would also be awarded 20 points but denied access.
But a primary school teacher offered an annual salary of £26,000, who also speaks good English, would score 70 points and would secure a visa to work in the UK.
A university lecturer with a maths PhD with an offer of a £40,000 would be awarded 90 points and would also secure a visa.
Which other countries have points-based immigration systems?
Canada was the first country to introduce a points-based immigration system in 1967.
It came as Canada was moving past an immigration system that selected based on race and country of origin, with the new system focusing on youth, education and fluency in English or French.
Australia and New Zealand also have points systems.
All three have similarities to the system the UK uses for non-EU migrants, although each system awards different numbers of points for different attributes.
In Australia, being aged between 25 and 33 years old will get you 30 points – almost halfway to the eligibility threshold of 65 points.
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How else can people get visas to work in the UK?
Just now, people from within the EU do not need a visa to work in the UK as free movement is still in place – however there are limits on claiming certain benefits.
A points-based system is already in place for those from outside the EU, with points awarded for having English language skills, being sponsored by a company and meeting a salary threshold.
A maximum number of work visas – around 21,000 a year – are issued but it isn’t often met.
Based on points accrued, there are four “tiers” of visa.
Other visas such as family ones for relatives of people coming on work visas are also available.
The four points-based visas are for temporary workers, students, skilled workers and “high value” migrants or major investors.