Immigration: the UK’s new points-based system

Home secretary Priti Patel has announced proposals that outline the UK’s new points-based Immigration System.

Due to come into effect from 1 January 2021, the system will mean that EU citizens and non-EU citizens will be treated equally during the visa application process.

The Government hopes that the new system will reassert control of the UK’s borders, restore the public’s trust and replace free movement between the UK and EU countries – to prioritise the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers and students.

Although the Government is yet to introduce formal legislation on the system, it has outlined several key points that are explained below.

What will the points system be based on?

  • Specific skills
  • Qualifications
  • Salaries
  • Professions

To be considered for a visa application to work in the UK after 1 January 2021, workers will have to achieve a threshold of 70 points.

How to gain points

Earning or gaining points relies on the factors outlined above, but certain criteria must be met.

  • 50 points – these conditions are essential:
    • 20 points – a job offer from an approved sponsor
    • 20 points – the job offer is at the required skill level
    • 10 points – spoken English meets the required level
  • 20 points – £25,600 or above salary
  • 20 points – the job is in a ‘shortage occupation’ (designated by MAC)
  • 20 points – education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject related to the job
  • 10 points – education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job
  • 10 points – £23,040 to £25,599 salary

The minimum salary that may be accepted is £20,480 – however, there will no points provided for salaries between £20,480 and £23,039. Therefore, the lack of points must be calculated and met with points in other areas.

Who is classed as a skilled worker?

The new system will focus on prioritising skilled overseas workers and, as such, will:

  • Enables those educated to A-Level/Scottish Highers-equivalent standard to be included (the current system only specifies degree graduates)
  • Those educated at a graduate level
  • See the addition of new specific ‘in demand’ skills, including:
    • Carpentry
    • Plastering
    • Childminding

(Certain areas of farm work and waiting tables are now removed.)


What about students?

If students can demonstrate that they speak English, can financially support themselves during their studies in the UK and have received an offer from an approved educational institution, then they will be awarded the required points.

What is the salary threshold?

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its report on points-based systems and salary thresholds on 28 January 2020. The recommended salary was £25,600, which has since been accepted.

However, as outlined, those on a lower income with the right skills or qualifications will be allowed to enter the UK as long as they meet the threshold of 70 points.

Global Talent Scheme

This is set to start on 20 February 2020 and is open to highly skilled EU citizens who do not require a job offer. Occupations in this category include Scientists and Researchers.

Link to the fast-track visa scheme is here

What about low-skilled workers?

The Government stated there will be no route for low-skilled or temporary work applicants.

It said, “We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation.”

The Government has urged businesses to ‘adapt’ to the end of free movement between the UK and EU countries by investing in staff members and automation.


The information contained in the article reflects legal position on 20 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.