Immigration: New salary thresholds to enable top talent into the UK

On 14 February 2020, the new immigration requirements for 2021 were announced. This includes a lower salary threshold and a ‘firmer and fairer’ points-based system, that will ‘focus on boosting skills, technology, and innovation that will benefit the UK for the long term.’

The prime minister ensures that this system will provide a simpler process, in which all applicants will undergo the same immigration requirements, so there is no discrimination between countries. With this system in place it ‘demonstrates the UK is open and welcoming to the top talent from across the world, which will help the economy and thrive.’ Also, with this salary being lowered, it means more employers can afford to sponsor skilled workers from abroad.

Visa applicants can gain points for

  • Having ‘outstanding’ qualities and skills
  • Having a ‘good’ understanding of the English language
  • Applying for specific professions
  • Working outside of London
  • Being educated in the UK
  • Being a certain age (younger applicants are favoured)
  • Obtaining job offers at the appropriate skill level (from an approved sponsor company)

What are the changes to the salary threshold?

Tier 2: general work visa (skilled workers)

  • Lowered from £30,000 to £25,600
  • Most teachers and NHS staff should be exempt from this requirement, including applicants that are looking for work in occupations that are experiencing a ‘shortage’
  • If your salary is under £23,000 you will need a significant number of points in other areas to make up
  • Higher salary thresholds for higher earners should be implemented further on in the year – to not undercut the wages of British workers.

Link to determine Tier 2 visa eligibility is here

‘Shortage Occupations’

Careers in care and construction are considered ‘shortage occupations’, with less recruitment Britain could be faced with ‘huge difficulties’. Therefore, migrants hoping to work in these areas could obtain additional points towards their visas.

What does the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommend?

  • NHS workers should be exempt from meeting a salary threshold
  • Applicants under 26 and recent UK university graduates should be able to work in the UK with a salary of £17,920 (minimum)
  • There shouldn’t be a geographical-based variation on salary thresholds
  • Targeting problems in some areas of the U.K. with ‘a visa that caters for these areas’ specific needs
  • Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa requirements should change – the skills requirements for entry are ‘far too high’

‘We see an important role for salary thresholds; what is a cost to an employer is an income for a worker’ – Prof Alan Manning, MAC

The information contained in the article reflects legal position on 15 February 2020 and is for general information purposes only and does not aim to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. We accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Carter Lemon Camerons immigration team. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact our immigration team at or +44 (0)20 7406 1000.