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Guide to the immigration points system

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Highly skilled workers

Highly skilled workers being recruited into hard-to-fill positions in UK companies must now demonstrate a higher level of previous earnings – a minimum of £25,000 a year. That minimum figure also now qualifies for fewer points than before. This raises the bar for employers as the earnings expectation of such workers will be higher. This could create tension between the newly-appointed higher-paid individual and existing employees who may be on significantly different pay scales.

The number of points needed by a highly skilled worker to gain access to the UK has also increased from 75 to 95. Those who do qualify will now only be granted leave to remain for two years – down from three years previously.

Applicants can now gain points if they are aged 40 or under. Previously the upper age limit was 32. This is good news for employers as it widens the talent pool.

Sponsored skilled workers

If the post is a non-shortage position, the person will now need prospective earnings of £20,000. However, if applying for an extension of a visa or work permit, there will be an automatic grant of 50 points (so the criteria under which the original application was granted remains similar).

Intra-company transfers

There are three categories of employee now: established staff; graduate trainees; and skilled transfers. The minimum salary to gain points to entry has been raised from £17,000 to £20,000, again putting pressure on employers. However, an employee in this category earning £32,000 and above, now qualifies for more points to entry, encouraging higher-level movement into the UK.

Graduate trainees and skilled transfers are only permitted to remain for a limited period and are not allowed to switch to a different immigration category.

Temporary cap on non-EU immigration

Employers are now limited in the number of certificates of sponsorship they can issue.

Entry quotas will be applied month-by-month. If an employer is trying to recruit someone in the highly skilled worker category, but that quota has been reached in one month, the individual will have to wait to the following month and apply again.

Intra-company transfers are not affected by the temporary cap so, subject to other criteria being met, multinational companies are still able to move as many staff as they wish into the UK.

Farhan Farani is a consultant at Farani Taylor, a specialist immigration law firm.

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