The UK government has announced a new set of immigration rules and visa policy with effect from January 1, 2021 after the Brexit transition period.
The details of the new system as announced by the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, include special fast-track visa for healthcare workers, skilled workers, and international students and graduates, among others.
The new system, which will be points based, will treat European Union (EU) and non-European Union (non-EU) citizens equally. The aim is to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy, just as Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do right now.
Visa applicants must also have job offers from a list of eligible occupations and speak English, to earn them at least 50 points.
The Visa application process can be made and paid for online as the applicant will be asked to provide his or her biometric information.
For the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens, they will provide digital photos of their faces using smartphone app. They do not have to give fingerprints but will need to go to an overseas visa application centre to have pictures taken if it is for low volume routes.
For the non-EU citizens, they will continue to submit their fingerprints and photos at overseas visa application overseas.
For Skilled Workers, the points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have job offers from an approved employer sponsors.
From January 2021, the job you’re offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). You’ll also need to be able to speak English and be paid salaries at the threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for your job, whichever is higher.
If you earn less than this – but no less than £20,480 – you may still be able to apply by trading points on specific characteristics against your salary; for example, if the job offer is in an occupation that is short of skilled workers, or you have a PhD relevant to the job.
The Global Talent Scheme will be opened up for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It will also allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers into the UK without any job offer.
International Students and Graduates
Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. They will be able to apply for visas to study in the UK if they have been offered a place on a course, can speak, read, write and understand English and have enough money to support themselves and pay for their courses.
A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed degrees in the UK from summer 2021. They will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years, or 3 years if they are PhD graduates.
Visiting the UK
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require any visa to enter the UK when visiting for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for entry clearance in advance. Also, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before December 31, 2020, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after June 30, 2021.
Proving Immigration Status in the UK
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will use an online service to view their immigration status and to prove their status to others. Employers, landlords and public service providers will continue to accept EU citizens’ passports and identity cards as evidence of their immigration status until 30 June 2021.
Non-EU citizens can continue to use physical documents to prove their immigration status. Those with valid, current Biometric Residence Permits, Biometric Residence Cards or status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme can also prove their right to work to an employer using an online service.