UK’s new points-based visa system opens; India’s skilled workers, students to be treated on par with EU citizens

The new visa system will come into force from 1 January at the end of the Brexit transition period, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member

FP Staff December 02, 2020 14:10:45 IST
UK’s new points-based visa system opens; India’s skilled workers, students to be treated on par with EU citizens

File image of UK home secretary Priti Patel. AP

The UK's new points-based visa and immigration system, aimed at attracting the "brightest and the best from the world", opened for applications from Tuesday.

Under the new system, which is described by the government as "simple, effective and flexible", the European Union (EU) and non-EU citizens (like Indians) will be treated equally.

It will come into force from 1 January at the end of the Brexit transition period, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member.

The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.

UK home secretary Priti Patel said that the government has delivered on the promise to end free movement, take back control of the country’s borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.

"Today is a historic moment for the whole country. We're ending free movement, taking back control of our borders and delivering on the people's priorities by introducing a new UK points-based immigration system, which will bring overall migration numbers down," said Patel, the senior-most Indian-origin Cabinet minister.

"This simple, effective and flexible system will ensure employers can recruit the skilled workers they need, whilst also encouraging employers to train and invest in the UK's workforce. We are also opening routes for those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture," she said.

Here is how the points-based system will work:

Skilled Workers:

The new system could prove advantageous to India's skilled workers and students since they will be treated on par with EU citizens. There will be no cap on the number of people who can qualify under the scheme.

The system will allow workers whose salary is below a determined 'going rate' (1) for their occupation, or a general 25,600 pound ($33,310) minimum, to still qualify for entry if they have advanced qualifications in their field, or want to work in an industry where there is a shortage of workers.

"Once someone outside the UK has gone through all these steps, they will usually get a decision within three weeks," the Home Office said.

Applicants will need to have enough money to cover the application fee will range between £610 to £1,408, plus a healthcare surcharge (usually £624 per year) and be able to support themselves (usually by having at least £1,270 available).

The Skilled Worker visa lasts for up to five years before it needs to be extended. Alongside the work visa, a number of other routes are also now open for applications, including Global Talent Visa, for people who can show they have exceptional talent or exceptional promise in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture.

Applicants must:

1. Have a job offer from an approved sponsor
2. Have a job that is deemed to be sufficiently skilled
3. Speak English

In addition, applicants must earn enough points through three additional criteria:

1. Education level
2. How their salary compares with the going rate for the field in which they wish to work
3. Whether there is a shortage of workers in their field

To qualify for entry, an applicant must score 70 points or more. Points are allocated as below:

MANDATORY   POINTS
Offer of job by approved sponser 20
Job at approriate skill level 20
Speaks English at required level 10

 

SALARY POINTS
Above going rate (1) for occupation, or over £ 25,600 (2) (whichever is higher) 20
Up to 10% below going rate, or up to 10% below £ 25,600 (whichever is higher) 10
10-20% below going rate, or 10-20% below £ 25,600 (whichever is higher 0

The applicants through skilled visa route should have a job offer by an approved sponsor for the appropriate skill level. They should also speak English at the required level. These mandatory requirements make up for 50 points, and the applicants should manage another 20 points through other characteristics required for the visa, which are tradeable.

The global talent route is a fast-track visa system to attract the world’s top scientists, researchers and mathematicians. As of November 2020, the government has provided a list of approved endorsing bodies which include The Royal Society, for science and medicine, The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering, and The British Academy, for humanities.

An Innovator Visa will be open to those seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable and scalable business idea, a start-up visa for someone seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time, and an Intra-company Transfer Visa for established workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to do a "skilled role" in the UK.

The Home Office said its new system will encourage employers to focus on training and investing in the UK workforce, driving productivity and improving opportunities for individuals, especially those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian industry and students' groups had broadly welcomed the new post-Brexit points-based regime unveiled by Patel earlier this year as a means to attract the "brightest and the best" from around the world. Under the system, workers from the EU will be at par with those from outside the economic bloc once its free movement of people rules stop applying to the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December.

With inputs from agencies

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