ArticleUnderstanding the UK’s points-based immigration system

Following the discontinuation of free movement between the UK and the EU, the UK government introduced a revamped points-based immigration system. This system has been designed to simplify the process of recruiting overseas workers and aims to attract talented individuals to the UK while balancing the recruitment of UK nationals.

Under the new system, employers are still encouraged to consider UK nationals for recruitment. However, the process for sponsoring overseas workers has been streamlined. Key to this system is the ability of individuals to score points, primarily through English proficiency and skilled job offers from sponsors meeting the appropriate wage criteria.

The government has recently reviewed the ‘shortage occupation list’ – a catalogue of roles in the UK experiencing staffing shortages. Roles on this list can be filled at reduced salaries, aiding sectors like healthcare that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic and Brexit.

Significantly, the cap on skilled workers has been removed, and the definition of ‘skilled work’ has been broadened from graduate-level jobs to include roles equivalent to A-level qualifications. This expansion eliminates the necessity for businesses to prove the unavailability of UK nationals for a role before considering overseas applicants.

The system also introduces new visa pathways. For example, the ‘high potential individual’ route, targeting recent graduates from top universities, allows work in the UK without a job offer or sponsor. Other visas focus on global mobility and roles in scale-up companies.

Why is compliance a must?

With severe penalties for non-compliance, including the potential loss of a sponsor licence, it is essential for employers to stay informed about immigration laws, conduct proper right-to-work checks, and seek legal advice when necessary.