The Home Office has opened its post-Brexit points-based immigration system for skilled workers to applicants as the clock ticks down to the end of the EU transition period next month.
A centrepiece feature of the nation’s decision to “take back control” of its borders in the wake of 2016’s referendum decision to leave the European Union, the new system awards applicants with a work visa valid for up to five years, if they can demonstrate enough points.
Points are collected for criteria including a job offer at the appropriate skill level, knowledge of English and being paid a minimum salary. Skilled worker visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points.
Home secretary Priti Patel said the new system would ensure businesses could recruit the most highly qualified people from across the globe and also encourage UK employers to focus on training and investing in the domestic workforce.
“This government promised to end free movement, to take back control of our borders and to introduce a new points-based immigration system. Today, we have delivered on that promise,” Patel said.
“This simple, effective and flexible system will ensure employers can recruit the skilled workers they need, whilst also encouraging employers to train and invest in the UK’s workforce.
“We are also opening routes for those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture.”
The Home Office said applicants would normally need to be paid at least £25,600 a year to be successful in obtaining a visa, unless the going rate for jobs in their sector was higher.
It said that applicants who had proved their identity and provided the requested documents would “usually” get a decision within three weeks.
The application fee ranges from £610 to £1,408, and is separate from the £624-a-year Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, which must also be paid. The Home Office said applicants also needed to be able to support themselves in the UK, which it said would “usually” be by having at least £1,270 available.
With just 31 days left until the end of the EU transition period, a handful of other visa routes opened.
They are the “global talent” visa for those who can show they have exceptional talent or exceptional promise in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture; the “innovator visa” for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an “innovative, viable and scalable” business idea; and the “start-up visa” for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.