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Skilled Worker Scheme Post Brexit

The Government has announced a new points-based immigration system today. The new system will be introduced from 1 January 2021 when free movement will cease and there will be no differentiation between EU and non EU citizens. The current cap for non EU workers is 20,700. Under the new system this cap will be abolished.

We are told the new scheme will ‘attract the brightest and the best’ but is this really in the interests of the UK economy? The mandatory requirements for all skilled workers will be to:

  • have an approved sponsor (similar to the current Tier 2 scheme employers will have to apply to become Home Office licenced sponsors);
  • be offered a job at the correct skill level. Unlike the current system this has been lowered from degree to A level; and
  • be able to speak fluent English .

Everyone will need to score 70 points, but even getting the points seems open to negotiation! The Government policy statement published today says applicants can ‘trade’ characteristics. So does this mean in a post Brexit world, securing a job here will be akin to a market place, where those who can negotiate and barter can strike a better deal? Applicants must score 50 points in the mandatory categories:

Skill Points Awarded
Correct level of English 10
Job offer from an approved sponsor 20
Job at appropriate skill level 20


But the next 20 points seem almost open to haggling as applicants can trade their skills to make up the following 20 points:

Skill Points Awarded
Salary = £20,480 to £23,039 0
Salary = £23,040 to £25,599 10
Salary = over £25,600 20
Job in a shortage occupation 20
PhD degree 10
PhD degree in engineering, maths, science or technology 20


So given the above an applicant who has met the mandatory criteria could come to the UK with a PhD to earn little over £20K. It is questionable whether such as system is set up to attract the ‘brightest and the best’.

With the UK having left the EU and a short transition period expected, there is a risk that skilled worker migration could fall significantly, creating potential challenges for some key UK industries. A successful sustainable new visa route for workers must attract the best talent with economically relevant skills that prioritise the needs of UK businesses.

If you have been affected by this or any other UK immigration issues please contact our team.


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