All Blog Videos Webinars
1 March 2022

The points-based system: what employers need to know

It’s important for employers to understand how they can get the best from the UK’s immigration system.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
UK Recruitment

What is the points-based system?

The UK’s points-based immigration system came into effect when the UK left the EU. It means that anyone coming to the UK to work must meet specific criteria. Each criteria gives the applicant points, and visas are then handed to those with enough points. 

The points system is aimed at allowing UK employers to employ workers with the right skills through a range of immigration routes. It’s therefore important that you, as an employer, understand how the system works. Doing so will allow you to use the system to your advantage.

How many points does someone need to work in the UK?

To qualify for a visa in the points-based immigration system, you must have at least 70 points. Workers will need to be sure they have the number of points required before they apply for the role advertised at your business. 

A breakdown of where employers can pick up their points can be found below:

Offer of job by approved sponsor Mandatory 20
Job at right 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

Sponsor Licences

To be able to employ workers from overseas, you must first acquire a Sponsor Licence. You can read more in depth about Sponsorship Licences here but, in principle, they mean your business is registered by the Home Office to have foreign workers on its payroll. 

Once you have become a registered sponsor, you will be able to give applicants a Certificate of Sponsorship. This certificate can then be used in the applicant’s subsequent visa application. There are two types of certificates of sponsorship:

  • Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (for applicants who are applying from outside the UK)
  • Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship (for applicants who are applying from inside the UK)

You can read more about Certificates of Sponsorship on the
UK Government website, or by reading our guide to Certificates of Sponsorship.

Before applying to become a registered sponsor, you should also decide which type of Sponsor Licence you would like. Your choice will depend on if you want to sponsor an employee for more general purposes, which a Skilled Worker Visa is best for, healthcare, which the Health and Care Visa is for, more specific areas of business through the Global Business Mobility Scheme, or if you just want to sponsor someone for temporary work.

Additionally, educational organisations can also act as sponsors for international students if they get a student Sponsor Licence. 

How much does sponsorship cost?

The price of sponsorship depends on both the type of visa route you sponsor, as well as the size of your business. The costs, which are sourced directly from the UK Government, are outlined below:

Licence type Fee for small business  Fee for large business 
Worker Sponsor licence £536 £1,476
Temporary Worker  £536 £536
Worker and Temporary Worker  £536 £1,476
Adding a worker licence to an existing temporary Worker licence  No fee £940
Adding a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence  No fee No fee

To be considered a small business you will usually have an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less, as well as 50 employees or fewer.

Immigration Skills Charge

The Immigration Skills Charge is designed to act as an incentive to employ your talent from within the UK. The funds that are raised by the skills charge are put towards skills and training programmes in the UK. The charge ranges from £182 to £1000, depending on the size of your business and the length of employment. 

Please note that these are the accurate fees as of 28 June 2024. They are subject to change and Woodcock Law is not responsible for any changes in fees.

We will try to update this page whenever new changes are announced.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment with one of our legal experts, contact Woodcock Law today. Call us on +44 (0)20 7712 1705 or email

Are you looking for notarial services?

We assist both individuals and businesses with a range of notarial services. For more information about how we might be able to help, head over to our dedicated notary site.