UK’s new points-based immigration system

These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2021, once freedom of movement with the European Union has ended.

From 1 January 2021, EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally and will reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents: scientists, engineers, academicians, and other highly skilled workers.

Skilled workers

As per the new UK’s points-based immigration system, a total of 70 points is required to be eligible to get a skilled work visa.

All applicants both EU and non-EU citizens will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required skill level, and required English language proficiency in order to gain 50 points from these non-tradable characteristics.

In addition to this, The minimum general salary threshold will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600. You can gain a maximum of 20 points if your job has a salary of 25600 pounds or above.

If you have a job offer has a salary of no less than £20,480, you may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation, or have a Ph.D. level qualification relevant to the job, or if you have a Ph.D. in a STEM subject relevant to the job.

STEM Subjects (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Characteristics Tradeable Points
The offer of the job by an approved sponsor No 20
Job at an appropriate skill level No 20
Speaks English at the required level No 10
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10
Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) Yes 20
Education qualification: Ph.D. in a subject relevant to the job Yes 10
Education qualification: Ph.D. in a STEM subject relevant to the job Yes 20

A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply; some characteristics are tradeable.

Highly-skilled workers

From January 2021, UK will extend the current Global Talent route to EU citizens on the same basis as non-EU citizens. 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 a relevant and competent body.

Additionally, they will introduce a broader unsponsored route within the points-based system to run alongside the employer-led system. This will allow a smaller number of the most highly-skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

Lower-skilled workers

Under the new UK’s points-based system, there is no lower-skilled worker’s immigration route available.

The new points-based immigration system will provide significantly greater flexibility for skilled workers wishing to come to the UK.

Both pre-settled and settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme allows unrestricted rights to work in the UK.


Students will be covered by the new points-based system. Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You’ll be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if you have been offered a place on a course, can speak, read, write and understand English, and have enough money to support yourself and pay for your studies.

For international students, a new graduate immigration route will be available to those who have successfully completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. You’ll be able to work or look for work in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years.

The main purpose of the Tier 4 visa route is for you to come to the UK to study. Where you are permitted to work, the intention is that this should be to supplement your income whilst studying. There are limits on your working hours that depend on when you applied for permission to come to or stay in the UK, the type of course you study, and what type of sponsor you are studying with.

Students studying a full-time graduate-level or higher course sponsored by a UK Higher Education Provider can legally work 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.

Students studying a full-time course below degree level (RQF level 6 (and equivalents)) sponsored by a Higher Education Provider can legally work 10 hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.

Other routes

The rules for a family reunion, asylum, and border crossing checks are outside of the points-based system.

In addition, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to obtain a visa in advance.

Visa process

For EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, for most visas you will have to provide a digital photo of your face using a smartphone application. You will not have to provide your biometric information initially.

Non-EU citizens will continue to submit your biometric information and a photo at an overseas visa application center. All migrants will need to comply with the UK’s strict criminality rules.

To prove your right to be in the UK, EU citizens will be issued with an e-visa. The online checking service will be used by EU citizens to demonstrate their UK immigration status.

Non-EU citizens, including those who are the family members of EU citizens, for the time being, will continue to use bio-metric residence permit documents to prove their UK immigration status.

Access to income-related benefits will be the same for EU and non-EU citizens arriving after January 2021. It will only be permitted after indefinite leave to remain is granted, which is usually available after five years of continuous residence. There will be exceptions for those who arrive outside of the points-based system.

EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and they will have the time until 30 June 2021 to make an application.

Crossing the border

The citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America, Singapore, and South Korea who possess biometric passports will continue to be able to use e-gates to pass through the border on arrival.

Similarly, the EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens will continue to be able to cross the UK border using a valid passport.

UK may stop accepting EU, EEA and Swiss national ID cards for entry to the UK after 2020. They will announce further details including the date for this change in advance. However, if you begin living in the UK before 31 December 2020 and have status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you’ll be able to use your national identity card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.

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