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5 February 2021

Introduction to the new points-based immigration system

UK Visas and Immigration have released a guide titled “UK’s points-based immigration system: an introduction for employers”.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Introduction to the new points-based immigration system

This is ahead of the introduction of a new points-based immigration system at the end of free movement for EU/EEA and Swiss citizens on 1 January 2021.

Employers who want to recruit skilled workers from outside the UK’s resident labour market will need to be a Home Office licensed sponsor. This is similar to the situation now where employers wish to employ migrant workers from outside of the EU/EEA.


Potential employees coming to the UK to work will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor, that the job offer is at the required skill level of RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent), and that they speak English to the required standard.

The job offer must meet the minimum salary threshold. This will either be the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

All applicants will be able to trade characteristics, such as their qualifications, against a lower salary to get the required number of points.

If the job offer is less than the minimum salary requirement (but no less than £20,480), an applicant may still be eligible if they have a job offer in a specific shortage occupation or a PhD relevant to the job.

There are also different salary rules for workers in certain health or education jobs, and for those at the start of their careers.

Standard Occupational Classification

All jobs have a corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code with a designated skill level. This SOC determines whether the job meets the requirements of the skilled worker route.

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

UK employers will need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge for each skilled migrant worker they employ through the Skilled Worker and Intra-company Transfer routes.

These charges are:

£1,000 per skilled worker for the first 12 months.
An additional £500 charge for each subsequent six-month period.
From 1 January 2021, this applies when sponsoring both EU and non-EU migrant workers.

A total of 70 points is needed to be able to apply to work in the UK

Offer of job by approved sponsorMandatory20
Job at appropriate skill levelMandatory20
Speaks English at required levelMandatory10
Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable0
Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable10
Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable20
Job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory CommitteeTradeable20
Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the jobTradeable20

Planning ahead is critical

If you are not already a licensed sponsor and you think you will want to sponsor employees through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.

The Sponsor Licence application process is one of the most complex areas of Immigration Law. We recommend getting in contact with us on 020 7712 1590 for our expert advice on such an application before any action is taken.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions about the changes or want legal advice, contact
Woodcock Law & Notary Public today. Contact us by phone on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or
by email at

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