United Kingdom: Government Outlines Points-Based System Starting 2021

The UK government has published a paper outlining its plans for the new points-based immigration system, specifically for sponsored work routes, which will be phased in from August 2020 and fully operational from January 2021, when free movement from the European Union comes to an end. The paper deals with the position of those sponsored to come to the United Kingdom for employment.

There will no longer be a requirement to offer positions to the resident labour market. Foreign workers will require a confirmed job offer from a company holding a sponsorship license.  Companies that do not yet hold a sponsor license are encouraged to apply now.

The job will need to be skilled to at least Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 (which roughly corresponds to a skill level that would require completion of secondary education), instead of RQF level 6 as under the current system (which refers to degree-level work).

Trading of points between salary and qualifications will exist to a limited extent for jobs paying less than GBP 25,600 per year.  Above this threshold, a confirmed job offer with a licensed sponsor and at the required skill level will be eligible for sponsorship. Jobs below this threshold may also qualify, for example if the worker has a PhD in a related field. 


Sponsorship of all foreign workers will require payment of an Immigration Skills Charge and an Immigration Health Surcharge. There is no intention to create a route for the self-employed beyond the existing Innovator route. The paper rules out the possibility of regional variations in salary requirements for regions, or Scotland. 

Employers sponsoring foreign workers from outside Europe are already bearing these costs.  The new proposals will lower the thresholds to sponsorship, but not the costs.

The government still aims to create a broader route into the United Kingdom for unsponsored workers.  Proposals will be explored with stakeholders during the remainder of 2020.


The government will continue to consult on a route for skilled individuals without a job offer, which will be subject to a cap and may allow points for academic qualifications, relevant work experience and age.

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