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Important changes to UK Immigration Rules for workers from January 2021

PUBLISHED: 2 March 2020
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In a recently published policy paper, the UK government revealed more details of the changes that will be introduced into the points-based system operated by the Home Office and will come into force not later than January 2021.

The main purpose is to tighten immigration rules, especially for those who are coming to work in the UK. And after long deliberations, it looks like a new system will have nothing to do with the Australian one.

How the UK points-based system compares to the Australian one

Most everyone points out that the United Kingdom has never been practicing to 100% a similar principle of granting work visas.

The Australian system lets you fail in 1 or 2 characteristics, but you can get extra points for professional skills. For example, a work visa will be given to a highly qualified specialist that does not speak English fluently. Employers can lure such people to work on their projects.

Another advantage of the Australian approach is that a worker can apply without a sponsorship certificate.

In the UK system, on the other hand, you must score a minimum number of points for each characteristic including job offer, sponsorship certificate and a good level of English.

New rules for work visas to the UK

They will affect workers and specialists of different professions as well as scientists and talented people. Some changes are for the better, some are for the worse, but while there is no final version of new rules, you should not make any haste decisions.

Low-skilled workers

Now, after Brexit, British government does not want any more low-skilled labour force coming freely to the country irrespective where they are from. EU and other nationals will be treated the same.

UK business is urged to make do with the limited workforce that has managed to come to the UK or already got a work visa or focus on modernising its facilities in order to minimise the need for unskilled labour through automation.

To smooth things over, the Home Office will quadruple its quota for seasonal workers coming to pick up strawberries and do other jobs to 10,000.

Skilled workers

Changes here are more positive. English language requirement stays the same, applicants must have a sponsorship certificate and a job offer and after arrival work for their employer only.

However, education requirements have been reduced by three points. Annual salary threshold will be £25,600 and in some exceptional cases even lower:

£20,480 a year, for workers of shortage occupations coming to fill in labour gaps or those with PhD in science, technology, engineering and maths.

£23,040 a year, for researchers in other subjects that must be relevant for the offered position.

Highly skilled workers and outstanding scientists

For a long time, there has been a special visa category for people with significant achievements in their professional field called Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa. It gave the right to live in the UK for over 5 years and then apply for permanent residence. There was no requirement to stay with a certain university or an employer.

As you can imagine, it was exceptionally hard to get this visa; to give you a feel for it, the requirements only take 50 pages. Besides, an applicant must have been endorsed by one of the 5 organisations approved by the Home Office for a particular area from arts to high-tech.

What happened to the Exceptional Talent visa

New applications are not accepted since 20 February 2020. Now, if you want to apply in this category, have started the process and have been already endorsed for the cancelled visa, you will be offered an alternative – Global Talent Visa.

They say the Global Talent visa will be an almost copy-paste version of its predecessor. The number of approved endorsing organisations will change. There will be an additional agency supporting innovative developments.

Boris Johnson’s government is going to be true to their promise of cancelling a quota for this visa category. To be honest, the process of obtaining this kind of visa is not easy and the Home Office has never managed to achieve its quota of 2,000 anyway.

If you want to come to the United Kingdom to work, but do not know what documents to prepare and how to obtain them, how to make an application and find it hard communicating with the UK immigration authorities, we recommend you talk to an immigration lawyer of a respectable legal company. This will save you precious time, money and a lot of hustle.

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