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  • Mikhail Adam

Updates on the new Points-Based system

A new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 22 October 2020. This document provides further details of the new Point Based immigration system and simplifies the existing rules in order to provide further clarity to migrants and employers.

The new rules take effect at 9am on 1 December 2020. All application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain made prior to this date will be determined in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 30 November 2020.

Some of the key changes as set out in the latest Statement of Changes are summarised below:


Skilled Workers

  • The Tier 2 (General) route will be closed to new applications from 1 December 2020. A person who has entry clearance or permission to stay on the Tier 2 (General) route and wants to extend their stay in the UK can apply for further leave, or settlement, under the Skilled Worker rules if they meet the requirements

  • All Skilled Worker applications, including Dependant partner and child applications, which are made on or after 1 December will be decided in accordance with the new Skilled Worker rules. Sponsors will need to provide additional information via a “sponsor note” to allow Certificates of Sponsorship issued before 1 December 2020 to be used for a Skilled Worker application

  • The minimum skill threshold will be lowered from graduate occupations to occupations skilled to RQF level 3,5 roughly equivalent to A-levels or Scottish Highers. Applicants will not need to hold a formal qualification; it is the skill level of the job they will be doing which determines whether the threshold is met

  • The general salary threshold will be lowered from £30,000 under the Tier 2 (General) route to £25,600 a year. The assessment of salary will be based only on guaranteed basic gross pay. Sponsored workers may also be paid less than the above amounts, depending on the tradeable points they are awarded. Applicants under the new route will need to be awarded 70 points in total

  • The cap which applies under Tier 2 (General) is being suspended. This is anticipated to reduce the end-to-end process for sponsoring skilled workers by up to four weeks

  • The Resident Labour Market Test will be abolished. This is anticipated to remove at least a further four weeks from the end-to-end process for sponsoring skilled workers. Sponsors must still be seeking to fill a genuine vacancy which meets the skill and salary thresholds

  • The 12-month “cooling off period” and six-year maximum length of stay in the route are being removed

  • The £35,800 salary threshold for settlement applications is being removed. Instead, sponsors must be paying their skilled workers a salary which equals or exceeds £25,600 per year and the going rate for the occupation

Visitors

  • Study of up to 6 months is now permitted under the standard Visitor route - all study must be undertaken at an accredited institution, except courses undertaken for leisure that last no longer than 30 days

  • A new Short Term Study Route is being introduced for students who wish to come to the UK to study English language courses for between 6 and 11 months. Those wishing to come to the UK to study for less than 6 months may do so under the Visitor route

English Language

  • Applicants are now required to prove the required English language proficiency to the Home Office only once

  • The majority speaking English language country list has been updated to include Malta. Furthermore, applicants can rely upon a degree from Ireland as proof of English language proficiency

  • Applicants who have gained GCSE/A Level or Scottish Higher in English while at school in the UK can rely on this as proof of their English language ability (initially, only for entry clearance and permission to stay for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator)

Maintenance

  • Applicants who have met the maintenance requirements on their current route do not need to meet it again if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than 12 months. This only applies on the Student, Skilled Worker, Temporary Workers, Start-up and Innovator routes

  • Applicants are required to show they have held funds for 28 days (initially, only for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator routes)

  • Applicants can rely on electronic bank statements without requiring that they be certified by the bank on each page

  • Applicants can rely on a wider range of accounts, in order to meet the maintenance requirements

In light of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Rules have also been amended so as to disregard overstaying between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 (during the pandemic).


For further details or assistance, please contact our Immigration Team.

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