Key Points
  • Updates issued for a points-based immigration system to be implemented on December 1,
    2020
  • Tier 2 General Route will be replaced by a Skilled Worker Route
  • Skilled Worker Route adds RFQ Level 3 qualifications to minimum skill threshold
  • Skilled Worker minimum salary threshold is lowered from £30,000 a year to £25,600 per year
    in most cases, except for £20,480 annually for shortage occupations
  • Processing times for Skilled Worker applications will be reduced to four weeks
  • Requirements for a six-year stay and 12-month cooling off period will be eliminated
  • ICT and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Routes will eliminate cooling off period and permit
    ICT leaves after five years in a six-year rolling period or nine years in a 10-year rolling
    period for high earners
  • Most individuals can change from long-term to Skilled Worker visas in December 2020
  • Visitor Route will permit stays in the UK up to six months, modify provisions for drivers
    with international routes, change requirements for volunteer work, and separate sporting and
    creative Permitted Paid Engagement provisions
Overview

The Government of the UK has provided more details on its points-based immigration system that will start on December 1, 2020.

What are the Changes?

The points-based system will replace the Tier 2 General Route with a Skilled Worker Route. Additionally, it will make changes to the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Routes and Visitor Route.

Skilled Worker Route

The Skilled Worker Route will apply to EEA and non-EEA nationals. All applicants must be sponsored by an employer that is licensed by the Home Office. The Skilled Worker Route will expand the minimum skill threshold for occupations to include RFQ Level 3 qualifications in addition to graduate-level qualifications. The minimum skill threshold equates to A-levels and Scottish Highers education. Formal qualification is not required. Minimum salary thresholds will also change under the Skilled Worker Route.

  • The minimum salary threshold will be reduced from £30,000 a year to £25,600 per year. In
    some cases, sponsored workers may be paid at less than the minimum threshold depending on the
    number of tradeable points they receive.
  • For settlement applications, the salary threshold will change from £35,800 to £25,600 per
    year.
  • The minimum salary for shortage occupations workers or those in health or education
    occupations is £20,480 per year. Individuals in these occupations must be compensated at the
    going rate or more for their jobs.

Sponsors must pay skilled workers at the minimum threshold or the going rate for their occupation, whichever is higher. For shortage occupations, the government will consider recommendations in a September 29, 2020 Migration Advisory Committee report on the Shortage Occupation List.

Processing times will be shortened by approximately four weeks, as the Skilled Worker Route also eliminates the cap for sponsoring skilled workers through the Tier 2 General Route. The new system will also eliminate a six-year maximum stay and a 12-month cooling off period.

Intra-Company Transfer and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Routes

On December 1, 2020, the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Routes will transition to a points-based system with several changes.

  • The cooling off period will be eliminated for the ICT route. Instead, ICT workers are
    eligible for an ICT leave for five years in a six-year rolling time period. High earners who
    are compensated at the minimum threshold of £73,900 per year are eligible for an ICT leave up
    to nine years in a 10-year rolling time period.
  • High earners are no longer required to work for a company overseas for 12 months before
    applying.

The points-based system will enable most individuals located in the UK to switch from long-term visas, such as Tier 5 Youth Mobility and Tier 2 (ICT), to a Skilled Worker visa. However, individuals cannot change to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK if their last leave was Seasonal Worker, Parent of a Child Student, Short-term Student, Visitor, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or otherwise outside of the Immigration Rules.

Visitor Route

Lastly, the points-based system includes changes to the Visitor Route.

  • Visitors can stay in the UK for up to six months to study.
  • Drivers with international routes can transport goods and passengers to and from the UK.
  • A previous requirement that volunteer work must be incidental to the purpose of the visit
    will be eliminated.
  • Sporting and creative Permitted Paid Engagement provisions will be separated, and different
    requirements will be applied for each category.
Additional Information for Employers and Applicants

Updates will be released on the new immigration system as more details become available.


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