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UK Points Based System

If you are looking to move to the UK from the US for work or to study you will need to apply for a UK visa using the new UK Visa Points System, formerly known as the five-tier points-based system.

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    What is the UK Points Based System?

    In order for Non-British citizens to work and study in the UK post-Brexit, they must qualify and apply for a UK work or student visa. These visas will be granted to applicants who meet specific requirements which are in turn assigned a numerical point value. Those who gain enough points will be granted work or student visas.

    In order to qualify for a work visa, the following requirements must be met:

    • The applicant must have a job offer from an approved employer-sponsor
    • The skill level required for the job must be RQF3 or above
    • The applicant must be able to read, write and speak English at the required level
    • The applicant must be able to meet the minimum salary threshold (if not, they can make up the points another way such as having educational qualifications or by filling a job on the Shortage Occupational List).

    Unfortunately, low-skilled workers are not yet eligible for a work visa in the UK.

    In order to qualify for a student visa, the following requirements must be met:

    • The student must have an offer to study from an approved educational institution
    • The student must be able to read, write and speak English at the required level
    • The student must have enough funds to support themselves while they study in the UK
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    How are points assigned for work visas?

    Under the new UK Points Based system, foreign workers are assessed and given points based on a number of factors including job skill level, English language fluency and the salary being offered. In order for an individual to be eligible for a UK work visa, they must achieve a certain level of points in the UK points-based system.

    Below is a summary of how points are awarded where non-tradeable characteristics are mandatory but tradeable characteristics are variable or interchangeable based on the employment offer and/or a person’s education and qualifications.

    Non-tradeable characteristics which are mandatory:

    • Offer of the job by an approved sponsor: 20 points
    • Job at an appropriate skill level: 20 points
    • Speaks English at the required level: 10 points

    Tradeable characteristics:

    • Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 : 0 points
    • Salary of £23,040 – £25,599: 10 points
    • Salary of £25,600 or above: 20 points
    • Job in shortage occupations (as designated by the MAC): 20 points
    • Ph.D. in a subject relevant to the job: 10 points
    • Ph.D. in a STEM subject relevant to the job: 20 points

    What visas are granted in the UK Points-Based System?

    The UK Points Based System awards visas for those who would like to work, study or invest in the UK. Other visas such as visitor, family-based and some UK Business visas are not subject to the points-based system and have different sets of requirements. Overall, the following visas are subject to the points-based system and are divided into the following categories:

    • Tier 1 visa for high-value migrants
    • Skilled Worker Visas
    • Student Visas
    • Temporary Worker Visas
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    What is a Tier 1 visa?

    The Tier 1 visa is for Entrepreneurs, Investors, Highly Skilled and Exceptionally Talented workers. These applicants can apply to enter the UK without a job offer but still must pass a points-based assessment. They are divided into the following categories:

    What is a Skilled Worker visa?

    The Skilled Worker visa allows foreign workers to enter the country to work with a job offer from a licensed UK sponsor. The sponsor will have to provide them with a Certificate of Sponsorship and they will also have to pass a points-based assessment. The categories of skilled workers are:

    What is a Student Visa?

    The Student visa allows study in the UK for younger students between four and 17 years old, as well as adult students over 18. There are two categories of student visas which are as follows:

    Those students who are under 18 years of age must obtain consent from a parent or guardian to study abroad, meet the academic requirements, and have suitable care arrangements in place.

    student in library aisle

    What are Temporary Worker Visas?

    Temporary Worker visas allow for foreign workers to enter the UK for short periods of time, usually sponsored by a UK employer, for work. The categories of temporary workers are as follows:

    • Creative and Sporting (sportspeople, entertainers or creative artists who are going to the UK for work up to 12 months)
    • Charity Workers (for people coming to the UK to do voluntary or unpaid work for a charity)
    • Religious Workers (coming to work on a temporary basis)
    • Government Authorized Exchange (for people coming to the UK through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice)
    • International Agreement Worker (for people coming to the UK under contract to provide a service that is covered under international law)
    • Youth Mobility Scheme (this allows students to work in the UK on working holidays)

    The mandatory points need for a Temporary Worker visa include 30 points given for a valid certificate of sponsorship from a licensed UK Employer and 10 points given for having enough funds to support themselves while in the UK.

    When was the points-based system introduced in the UK?

    After Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU ended on December 31st, 2020, the UK enacted a new points-based immigration system. This system was designed to treat equally European Union citizens (who in the past could obtain a job in the UK ) with non-European Union citizens (who had a harder time obtaining a visa for study or work).

    The original goal of the new system is to attract highly skilled workers to the UK while simultaneously filling the low-skilled worker roles with British citizens.

    As always, the points-based system will not apply to Irish citizens.

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              Frequently Asked Questions

              The expert lawyers at IAS can advise you on the right visa for you and ensure your application is completed to a professional standard.

              We understand that the points-based system can be difficult to navigate. Our services are tailored to your specific situation and take into account all your circumstances.

              Our services include:

              • Consulting in person, over the phone or via Skype at a suitable time for you
              • Determining your eligibility for a visa under the UK visa system
              • Ensuring you have correct and organized documents
              • Producing a Letter of Representation. This describes your application, references your documents and cites relevant UK case law to support your case
              • Communicating with the Home Office for the duration of your application
              • Completing all your application forms to a professional standard

              Using our services will give you the best chance of getting a successful result on your application. Contact us on +1844 290 6312 today or use our online contact form to get in touch with your personal immigration lawyer.

              For those over 16 years old who want to attend English language courses in the UK, they can apply for a Short-term Study Visa. Their course should be between 6-11 months long.

              If you work in the UK but keep a primary residence in another country, you could be eligible for a Frontier Worker Visa. This visa is for cross-border workers who were working in the UK before January 1st, 2021.

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