The UK’s New Points-Based Immigration Routes. Coming to Work: Skilled Workers

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Coming to Work: Skilled Workers
the UK’s New Points-Based Immigration System


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The Mix and Match Buffet for Skilled Workers

After 11 pm 31 December 2020, anyone, all EU and non-EU citizens who wish to come to the UK to work will need to meet specific requirements of the UK’s New Points-Based Immigration System.

Unlike the old Points-Based Immigration System, the new one does not limit the number of migrants wishing to enter the UK. The Home Office states that the general threshold is a measure of the economic contribution an applicant will make to the UK.

The Home Office will have a ‘mix and match buffet’, where they’ll be offering a ‘menu’ of requirements for which migrants can score points. The UKVI will grant their visa applications if they reach a minimum number of points necessary for a particular category. Applicants can mix and match certain requirements. In legal terms, they are called ‘tradable points’.

However, there will be specific requirements, which will be ‘untradeable’. In other words, everyone who applies will need to meet these mandatory criteria.


Coming to Work. Skilled Workers. Mandatory Criteria 

Every skilled worker, who wants to work in the UK, will need to, in addition to passing the relevant UK criminality checks

  1. have an offer of a job from a licensed sponsor;
  2. the job will need to be at or above the minimum skill level: RQF3 level or equivalent (A-level or equivalent qualification). What is important to note here is that skilled workers do not need to hold a formal qualification to quality. The Home Office is more interested in the worker’s skill level of the job they will be doing.
  3. To speak English at the acceptable level (lowest entry level is B1)

Any skilled will automatically get 50 points for meeting the above four mandatory requirements:

Non-tradeable points (mandatory) – 50 required


An offer of a job by an approved sponsor




Job at an appropriate skill level




English language skills at level B1 (intermediate)




To win this Points-Based System game, they’ll need to score further 20 ‘tradable’ points.


The Salary Threshold

The minimum salary threshold is £25,600 (gross annual). There can also be the ‘going rate’ – a lower salary, which is acceptable for a particular job type.

Does this mean that anyone, who will be getting less than £25,600 is doomed and should forget the idea of coming to the UK to enrich the UK economy? Not necessarily. The salary requirement is a tradable one. It means that a person can score more points from other requirements. For example, this can happen where the person’s job offer is in a specific shortage of occupation. Alternatively, a skilled worker can score more points for having a PhD qualification, which is relevant to the job offer.

Importantly for the students, the Home Office will take a more flexible and generous approach with ‘new entrants’, those who are at the beginning of their career. The salary requirement in these circumstances will be lowered by 30%.

However, the Sponsors cannot go lower than £20,480 per year in any event.


New Entrants

New Entrants are skilled workers who meet one of these requirements:

  1. They are switching from the Student or Graduate route to the Skilled Worker route;
  2. They are under the age of 26 on the date of their application; or
  3. They are working towards recognised professional qualifications or moving directly into postdoctoral positions.

The discount to the going rate for new entrants will be 30%. However, in any event, it cannot be less than £20,480. Also, the Sponsors should always keep an eye on their obligations under the National Living Wage and should never pay less than the minimum wage limit.


The Going Rate

According to the Home Office, the ‘going rates’ are based on the 25th percentile of earnings in the UK. They take this data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). A percentile is a measure used in statics indicating the value below which a given percentage of observation in a group of observations falls. For example, the 25th percentiles is the value below which 25% of the observations can be found. Equivalently, 75% of the observations are found above the 25th percentile.

You can check the current rates for each profession HERE.

The Sponsors should note here that these rates (and any discounts to them from scoring tradeable points elsewhere) do not free them of their obligations under the National Minimum Wage Regulations, even if the stated going rate is lower. Skilled workers are entitled to the same minimum rates as other UK workers.


The Salary Threshold Will Not Apply to Public Sector Occupations

Coming to Work: Skilled Workers

There are 24 health/education public service occupations. You can check the list HERE.

The £25,600 general salary threshold will not apply for this group. However, the minimum salary should still be £20,480. In other words, if the job offer is on the health/education public service occupations list and you’ll be getting at least £20,480, the Home Office will grant your visa application. However, the sponsors should be offering salaries at the level of the national pay scales for these occupations.

There is one temporary exception to the minimum salary floor for nurses and midwives who can be paid a lower salary for up to the first eight months in the UK before they achieve their full UK registration as a nurse or midwife. After eight months, the sponsors will need to pay the nurse or midwife according to the national pay scales for a newly registered nurse or midwife.


Tradable points


Tradeable points – 20 required


Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the job. The Sponsors will need to explain how the PhD is relevant to the job offer.

Salary of at least £23,040 (or at least 90% of the ‘going rate’ for the profession, whichever salary is higher) 10


Job in a shortage occupation


Salary of at least £20,480 (only if a job is in the health/education sector, public service occupations (except nurses and midwives)) 20


Salary of at least £25,600 (or at least the going rate for the profession.) 20
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job. STEM = science, technology, engineer and math 20
The applicant is a new entrant to the labour market




Coming to Work: Skilled Workers. Future In-Country Applications 

In certain circumstances, skilled workers will need to make a new application. These circumstances include:

  • change employer;
  • change jobs (to another SOC code); or
  • need to extend their stay.


Existing Tier 2 (General) will close soon. All existing Tier 2 (General) migrant who fall into one of the above scenarios, will need to make an application under the Skilled Worker route, using the new Points-Based System.

It means that there will be a reassessment of whether their new post meets the required skill and salary level. The Home Office will also be checking the PAYE records. It is to ensure that the workers get the correct salary.

With regards to the English language requirement, the good news is that once the requirement is met for the first application, there won’t be any need to do it again.

Coming to Work: Skilled Workers