Post-Brexit immigration policy: How does the UK points-based system work?

The new immigration policy is based on an Australian style points-based system designed to prioritise high-skilled immigrants. The UK is no longer a member of the European Union and so won’t adhere to the bloc’s rules on immigration from 2021

How does the UK points-based system work?

Free movement to and from EU countries will end on January 1, 2021, after the transition period has ended.

The Government said it wants to switch the economy’s focus away from “a reliance on cheap labour from Europe”.

It will instead concentrate on investing in workers in the technology and automation sectors.

Under the new system, immigrants will need to meet certain criteria to earn the 70 points qualifying them for application.


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In the policy document explaining the new system, the Home Office announced: “We are ending free movement and will introduce an Immigration Bill to bring in a firm and fair points-based system that will attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services.

“We intend to create a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy.

“We will deliver a system that works in the interests of the whole of the UK and prioritises the skills a person has to offer, not where they come from.


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The first thing immigrants will need to do is meet the three essential requirements.

If they fail to tick the boxes of the three criteria they cannot apply.

These requirements are a job offer by an approved sponsor (worth 20 points), a job at an appropriate skill level (worth 20 points), and the ability to speak English at the required level (worth 10 points).

These are deemed by the Government to be “untradeable”.

“For too long, distorted by European free movement rights, the immigration system has been failing to meet the needs of the British people.

“Failing to deliver benefits across the UK and failing the highly-skilled migrants from around the world who want to come to the UK and make a contribution to our economy and society.

“Our approach will change all of this. We are implementing a new system that will transform the way in which all migrants come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family.

“It will also revolutionise the operation of the UK border, tighten security and deliver a better customer experience for those coming to the UK.”

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If an applicant can match the untradeable requirements, they need to add another 20 points to reach the 70-point threshold.

The “tradeable” criteria set out in the policy document can be used to reach 70 points.

A job with a salary of between a minimum £20,480 and £23,039 does not earn any immigration points.

A salary between £23,040 and £25,599 is worth 10 points, while a salary of £25,600 or above is worth 20 points.

Job in a shortage occupation (decided by the Migration Advisory Committee) is worth 20 points.

If an applicant has a PhD in a subject relevant to the job, then they receive 10 points.

A PhD in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject relevant to the job earns an applicant 20 points.

The Immigration Bill policy means the UK will be closed to non-skilled workers.

The Bill also means the Government won’t allow for self-employed people to enter the UK without a job.

The right of musicians, artists, entertainers and sportsmen and women to enter for auditions, performances and competitions will stay as is.

Border control won’t accept ID cards from countries such as France and Italy.

The new system lowers the skills threshold for foreign nationals wanting to work in the UK will be lowered from degree to A-levels or their equivalent.

The cap on the numbers of skilled workers is being scrapped and a small number of highly skilled workers will be allowed to come in without a job.

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