HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATE THE NEW UK VISA POINTS-BASED SYSTEM FOR EMPLOYERS

In December 2020, the UK’s skilled worker visa regime changed significantly with the introduction of a new Points-based System.

Previously known as a Tier 2 General Worker visa, the new rules consider all non-UK (and non-Irish) nationals equally. This means European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals now use the same skilled worker visa regime as holders of other passports if they intend to come to the UK to work for more than six months.

Red tape is also being cut for employers, who will no longer need to have a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) done before employing someone who needs a Tier 2 General Worker visa.

Here’s what you need to know about the new UK Points-based System for employers. 

And if you’re an individual looking for more information on how to apply for a UK skilled worker visa under the new Points-based System, you can check out this post on Your Straightforward Guide to the New UK Visa Points-based System for the details.

Before you get started, why not keep yourself up to date with the latest UK visa and travel developments by joining the Help with my visa! mailing list?

We’ll send you 2-4 emails per month with links to useful resources, interviews with visa and travel professionals and business updates so you can keep on top of your next UK visa application.

Just fill out the form opposite and we’ll add you to our list. 

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Before you get started, why not keep yourself up to date with the latest UK visa and travel developments by joining the Help with my visa! mailing list?

We’ll send you 2-4 emails per month with links to useful resources, interviews with visa and travel professionals and business updates so you can keep on top of your next UK visa application.

Just fill out the form below and we’ll add you to our list. 

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UK Tier 2 General Worker Visa major changes

The new UK visa Points-based System introduced major changes for both visa applicants and UK-based employers.

Changes for UK visa applicants:

    • Removal of overall cap for UK skilled worker visa applications
    • No more monthly Certificate of Sponsorship panels to decide visa quotas
    • Qualifying jobs require a lower A-level qualification or equivalent, not Bachelor degrees as previously
    • Clearer points-based eligibility criteria make it easier to understand how you can qualify for a UK skilled worker visa

Changes for UK-based employers:

    • Removal of requirement for a Resident Labour Market Test
    • Requirement for a Sponsor Licence if you hire non-UK or non-Irish nationals
    • Introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for each visa national you employ

How the new UK visa Points-based System works

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has published detailed policy and guidance documents on the new UK visa Point-based System changes. Using these documents and several immigration forums we’ve attended over the past few months with UKVI and major immigration lawyers, we’ve put together this overview of how the new UK visa Points-based System works.

Under the new UK visa Point-based System, visa applicants need to score 70 points to qualify for a skilled worker visa. 50 of these points must come from the Mandatory Criteria, and 20 Points from one or a combination of both Tradeable Criteria. As an employer, you’ll need to know if a suitably-qualified person applying a role with you can meet these Mandatory and Tradeable Criteria. 

This includes making sure your business holds a Sponsor Licence issued by the Home Office so that non-UK/ non-Irish passport holders are eligible to apply for the role.

Mandatory Criteria

All visa applications under the UK Points-based System will need to score 50 points from the Mandatory Criteria:

    • Job offer from an approved Home Office sponsor
    • Job skill level RQF3 or higher (equivalent to A-level)
    • English language competency

Visa applicants score 50 points by meeting all three Mandatory Criteria.

Tradeable Criteria

A further 20 points are available from one or both of the Tradeable Points categories:

Salary:

    • Must be greater than £20,480
    • 80% of relevant salary gives 0 points
    • 90% of relevant salary gives 10 points
    • 100% or more of relevant salary gives 20 points

Other:

    • Holder of PhD relevant to the job gives 10 points
    • Holder of STEM PhD relevant to the job gives 20 points
    • Job offer in a shortage occupation gives 20 points

‘Relevant salary’ means the higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the job as specified in the Standard Occupational Code (SOC). The SOC is being updated to include more jobs and going rates and we expect the document to be continually updated as time goes on and ‘going rates’ change.

Worked examples

To show how the new Points-based System works in practise, UKVI gives the following examples, which we’ve reproduced here.

Lab technician with a STEM PhD coming to the UK with salary offer of £21,000. The general salary threshold applies.

Mandatory Criteria – 50 points

Job offer: 20 points

RFQ3 or above: 20 points

English language: 10 points

Tradeable Criteria – 20 points

General salary threshold: £25,600

Salary: 0 points

STEM PhD relevant to job: 20 points

TOTAL – 70 points

uk tier 1 innovator visa

Mechanical engineer coming to the UK with salary offer of £26,750. The “going rate” salary threshold for the profession applies.

Mandatory Criteria – 50 points

Job offer: 20 points

RFQ3 or above: 20 points

English language: 10 points

Tradeable Criteria – 20 points

Going rate salary threshold: £33,400

Salary: 0 points

Job offer in shortage occupation: 20 points

TOTAL – 70 points

points-based system

Points-based System for employers

Here are the major changes that the new UK Points-based System introduced for employers.

While the removal of the Resident Labour Market Test and abolition of skilled worker visa caps will be welcome changes, you will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence for your business and pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for every non-UK/ Irish person you employ.

You apply for a Sponsor Licence with UKVI and the whole process takes about 8 weeks. Once your Sponsor Licence application is approved, your organisation will be added to the approved sponsors list that lets visa applicants meet the Mandatory Criteria for applying for a UK skilled worker visa.

Fees differ depending upon whether you’re a small or charitable organisation, or a medium or large organisation.

The ISC is a new charge and you’ll need to pay either £364 (small and charitable organisations) or £1,000 (medium and large organisations) for the first year you employ a non-UK/ Irish national after 1 January 2021, and £182 or £500 every six months thereafter.

However, you can continue to employ any EU or EEA nationals who have applied for either Settled Status or Pre-settled Status under the current rules and you don’t need to apply for a Sponsor Licence to employ them.

You do however, need to make sure you have adequate Right to Work processes in place to ensure your business’s continued compliance with the immigration rules.

Get professional help making your Sponsor Licence application

For UK-based employers, our immigration advisers provide Sponsor Licence application services. They’ll take all the hassle out of your application by completing it for you, telling you precisely what documents you need to provide and what new operational processes your business needs to start using to remain compliant. 

And with an 8-week turnaround time, you’ll want to make sure you get your Sponsor Licence application in quickly to avoid any issues.

To find out more about the professional services offered by the immigration advisers listed on Help with my visa! you can click the button below. This will take you to a list of services that you can review and compare to find the right one for you. You can then book an initial consultation with the immigration adviser directly on Help with my visa! within just 3 minutes.

So don’t wait until it’s too late to find out about how the new UK Points-based System may affect your business, book an appointment to speak with a professional today.

Apply for a Sponsor Licence

Get professional assistance preparing your Sponsor Licence application

Apply for a Sponsor Licence

Get professional assistance preparing your Sponsor Licence application
2 Comments
  1. […] If you run a business in the UK and employ non-European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals, you must hold a UK Visa Sponsor Licence.  […]

  2. […] And if you’re a UK-based employer, you can find out what the change mean for your business in our post How to Successfully Navigate the New UK Points-based System for Employers. […]

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