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Posted on August 20 2020

Skilled worker and the UK’s points-based immigration system

By  Editor
Updated April 03 2023
UK Work Permit Visa

The UK introduced a points-based immigration system in January 2020 similar to the points-based immigration system followed by Australia and Canada, though there are differences. The immigration system is tailored to suit the immigration requirements of individual countries.

The U.K’s immigration system which will come onto effect from January 1, 2021 is intended to bring in the ‘best and brightest’ immigrants to the country.

Based on the new system, immigration applicants will be assessed on a number of factors which include their qualifications, specific skills, salary or profession. Candidates will have to get 70 points to be eligible to apply.

The table below gives more details:

Criteria Points
Knowledge of the English language 10*
Job offer from an approved sponsor 20*
A job with a relevant skill level (20 points) 20*
Job has a salary between 20, 480 to 23,039 pounds 0
Job has a salary between 23, 040 to 25,599 pounds 10
Job has a salary of over 25, 600 pounds 20
Job is part of shortage occupation list 20
The applicant has a Ph.D. 20

The applicant has a Ph.D. in science, technology, math and engineering


* = Required

Focus on skilled workers

Under the new system the focus has shifted on skilled workers because under the new system only skilled workers can be recruited and can come to the country on work visas. So, what is the definition of a skilled worker?

A skilled worker is an individual who is working in a job for which he has sufficient skills to qualify for a Tier 2 visa. In the present, this indicates a job that calls for skill levels equal to a bachelor’s degree or above (NFQ level 6).

When the points-based immigration comes into effect the required skill level will come down to NQF level 3 the equivalent for English A level or Scottish higher qualification. This will open up opportunities to acquire a skilled worker visa for roles such as IT technicians, nursing home managers, and insolvency administrators.

Points Based Immigration System will only allow for these types of workers to be recruited using work visas. Despite the terminology, there are some important points to consider.

Under the new system, a skilled worker will not be determined by their qualifications, rather it is determined by what they will be doing on a day-to-day basis. A skilled worker is someone who is doing a job that requires a particular level of skill and where individual qualifications do not matter.

The skills required for a role are set by the Home office, however, they do not decide if an individual job is skilled or no. This is determined by the Standard Occupational Classification system or SOC codes.

This raises the question of whether the new system will contain the required skill levels that will meet the UK’s requirements especially in the path to economic recovery post the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the Skilled worker route being an important component of the points-based system, the impact of the altered definition of a skilled worker is to be seen on UK immigration.



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