New UK immigration rules 2021

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new immigration rules UK

New UK immigration rules: Here is everything you need to know.

Immigration point system

The new UK immigration rules mean that from the first of January 2021 all EU and non-EU nationals will be treated equally. These changes have led to the introduction of a new immigration point system. Current popular routes such as the Tier 1, Tier 2 and student visa (as well as new entrants) will now all be replaced with the point-based system. Applicants will need 70 points to be eligible for a UK visa.

Working visa in UK. The Tier 2 becomes Skilled Worker visa

The Skilled Worker visa will replace the current working visa, known as the Tier 2 visa. This will be open to both EU and non-EU nationals.

  • This new category will be open to a larger subset of jobs, as it will now allow jobs in the regulated qualification framework (RQF) level 3 (A-Levels) to be considered rather than previously, when only RQF level 6 jobs (Degree level) were considered. Many technical occupations and office jobs, will now qualify for a Skilled Work visa.
  • There will be no limit to the number of people who can come to the UK.
  • The resident labour market test will be taken away. Previously if there were any available settled workers with the right skills, they would need to be offered a job over any non-EU national, even if they are not the best candidate. This will no longer apply, meaning all candidates should be considered equally and no one should be given a job simply because they are already settled in the UK, if they are not the best candidate.
  • Points will be given for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and occupations with shortages and visas will be given to those who have enough points.
  • Applicants will need to gain 70 points to be allowed to work in the UK.
  • The basic requirements are English proficiency (10 points), having a confirmed job offer from a sponsorship certified employer (20 points) and an offer at the appropriate skill level (20 points).
  • To make up the last 20 points and reach 70 points, the salary that the applicant is offered will need to be at GBP 25,600 or above (GBP 20,480 for those in health or education positions), or at the going industry rate, whichever is higher.
  • If the income is less than GBP 20,480 there is still a way to enter the UK, if working in a specific shortage occupation (designated by the Migration Advisory Committee) or if one holds a PhD in the relevant field.
  • Gross basic pay will be used to calculate the salary threshold. The basic gross pay figure is the amount before income tax, National Insurance and employee pension deductions are made. Other benefits and allowances such cost of living or accommodation benefits cannot be included.
  • Existing Tier 2 sponsors will not need a new certification and will be automatically rolled over to the new system.
  • Sponsor license applications are able to be fast tracked – The Home Office will process these businesses sponsorship licenses within five working days (rather than the standard eight weeks). The business will need to pay an additional GBP 500 to reduce the work permit processing time.
  • The six-year maximum period of stay and cooling-off period applicable under the Tier 2 visa will be taken away.
  • It will be possible to switch into the Skilled Worker visa from another visa without leaving the UK.

Highly skilled workers

  • A new global talent scheme will replace the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa route. This will allow top scientists and researchers to be fast tracked into the UK and enter without a job offer. Applicants can be endorsed directly by UKRI (UK Research and Innovation).

Lower skilled workers

  • There will not be the introduction of any general low-skilled or temporary work route.
  • Seasonal workers in agriculture have been expanded to 10,000 places and the youth mobility arrangement (Tier 5) will continue to allow 18-30-year-olds from qualifying countries to enter and work in the UK in temporary positions for two years.

The new student visa rules UK 

As part of the new UK immigration rules the UK will be making it easier to gain student visas and to study in Britain as an international student. Since the EU will no longer have free movement to the UK, this means many more international students may get the opportunity to study under the new student visa routes.

  • Studies can now be done on a visitor visa for up to six months at accredited institutions. For “recreational courses” that are done for leisure, studies can be undertaken at any institution for up to 30 days.
  • For longer studies, new UK student visa routes came into effect in October 2020. The routes are now all points-based and students will be able to achieve the required points by getting accepted into an approved education institution, demonstrating English language proficiency and proving they are able to financially support themselves throughout their studies.
  • A new Graduate visa category will be launched in the summer of 2021 (June/July). Master’s degree students will be able to remain in the UK for two years after their studies and work without needing a sponsor. During this time, they may switch to a Skilled Worker visa.
  • PhD students will be allowed to stay for three years following their studies.

UK visa requirements

The UK has always had good character requirements but under the new rules it has been made easier and clearer for border and immigration control officers to implement them.

  • Anyone that has been convicted of a crime in the UK or abroad and was sentenced to a year or more imprisonment, will not be given a visa.
  • Border offices will have more power to refuse entry at the border for those in sham marriages or anyone guilty of evasion of duty and tax.

The changing cost of immigration

Many of the visa requirements that are currently in place state that people who want to get a visa and live in the UK need to be able to financially support themselves. If supported by someone else, they must show proof that they can afford to “maintain and accommodate” the person they are bringing in, or sponsoring. This is so the applicant can show they will not require any government support. Many of these financial demands are set to change in 2021

  • Under the new system many visa options will no longer have maintenance requirements if the applicant has been supporting themselves in the UK for more than 12 months. These include students, skilled workers, intra-company transfers, Tier 2 minister of religion, Tier 2 sportspersons, Tier 5 (temporary workers), start-up and innovator applicants.
  • Applicants must show that sufficient funds have been held in the designated bank account for 28 days without dropping below the minimum requirements during this time.
  • For undergraduate and postgraduate university students, the maintenance required increased on 1st of December 2020.