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8 September 2020

With all that has happened in the world in 2020, it is easy to forget that the last quarter of the year is fast approaching.  If you plan to work in the UK next year to advance your career, you will need to apply for a Tier 2 work visa under the new 2021 Points Based System (PBS).  This applies to both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA nationals.

Why have the rules changed?

In June 2016, the UK public voted by a slim majority to leave the European Union (EU).  On 31 December 2020, the transition period ends, and the UK will no longer be part of the EU.  As a consequence, the right to freedom of movement between EU/EEA citizens and UK citizens will cease.  

Although Britain has had a PBS for non-EU/EEA migrants for many years, leaving the EU provided an opportunity to overhaul the scheme to ensure migrants with the most to offer in terms of skills can come to the UK to work and eventually apply for Settlement.

What are the requirements to obtain a UK work permit in 2021?

Under the new skilled worker system, if you want to come to the UK to work, you will need to have evidence of the following:

  • You have a job offer from an employer who has a UK Sponsor Licence.
  • The job you have been offered is of the required skill level.  This is RQF-3 or above, or the equivalent of A-level.
  • You can speak English to the required standard.
  • The job you have been offered meets the minimum salary threshold.

How is the minimum salary requirement calculated?

The minimum salary requirement is the higher of either:

  • the general salary threshold set by the British Government on advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee at £25,600, or
  • the specific salary requirement for your occupation, known as the “going rate”

What if I cannot meet the minimum salary criteria for a Tier 2 visa?

As long as the salary offered is not lower than £20,480 per year, you may be able to use characteristics such as your qualifications to achieve the required number of points needed to obtain a Tier 2 visa.  Relevant characteristics include:

  • a job offer in a specific shortage occupation
  • a PhD relevant to the job
  • a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

Example:  Emily is from Australia and wants to come to Britain to further her career in the oil and gas sector.  She has a PhD in the discipline of geoscience.  She is offered a position in a UK company that specialises in natural resource exploration.  However, the starting salary is only £23,000.  Geoscience is a skill included on the Shortage Occupation List, and Emily has a PhD relevant to the job; therefore, she may accrue enough points to obtain a Tier 2 visa.

There are different salary rules for people working in health and education.  Your immigration lawyer can advise you if you work in these professions.

How are the points awarded?

To apply to work in the UK you need a total of 40 points.  They are awarded as follows:

CharacteristicsMandatory/TradeablePoints
Offer of job by approved sponsorMandatory20
Job at appropriate skill levelMandatory20
Speaks English at required levelMandatory10
Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable0
Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable10
Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable20
Job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory CommitteeTradeable20
Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the jobTradeable20

Source – The Official UK Government Website 

How do I know if the job I have been offered meets the required skill level?

The job you have been offered must meet the skill level of RQF-3 or above, which is the equivalent of the UK A-level qualification.  This has been lowered from the previous rules, where the skill level was required to be the equivalent of a bachelor degree.

All jobs have been given a Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) and this will tell you if the position you have been offered meets the required skill level.  In most cases, your potential employer would have established this fact before offering you the position.

In summary

Refusals of work visas often occur because incorrect details appear on the application and/or due to the failure to include the required supporting documents.  If you are applying for a Tier 2 visa and are planning to bring dependent family members to the UK with you, it is important to invest in the advice and representation of an experienced immigration Solicitor.  They will ensure your application is completed correctly, you understand all the required costs (for example the Healthcare Surcharge), and can quickly answer any questions you or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have regarding your application.

To find out more about applying for a Tier 2 visa under the UK 2021 PBS, please call us on +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or fill in our contact form.

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