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HomeExpatUK Visa Pathways - Changes you need to know

UK Visa Pathways – Changes you need to know

Why has Immigration to the UK Changed?

  • Taking control of immigration was one of the key themes of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum
  • When the UK was an EU member, people from EU countries had an automatic right to work in the UK
  • The new system for work visas is based on points.
  • The exception to this is Irish citizens, who are still able to live and work in the UK as part of the Common Travel Area.

How are points awarded?

To qualify for a visa, migrant workers who want to move to the UK will have to qualify for 70 points.

Having a job offer from an approved employer for a skilled job and being able to speak English will give 50 points.

The applicant can achieve the remaining 20 points if they are due to be paid at least £25,600 a year.

They can also gain extra points for having better qualifications (10 points for a relevant PhD, or 20 points for a PhD in science, technology, engineering or maths) or an offer of a job in which the UK has a shortage (20 points), even if it doesn’t pay as much money.

Certain jobs in health or education still merit 20 points even if the salary is less than £25,600. The applicant must be paid at least £20,480, and in line with set amounts for particular jobs in the UK’s four nations.

How do you Apply to Work in the UK?

Applications may be started online, but some people will need to visit a visa application centre in order to prove their identity and show necessary documents.

These might include a certificate of sponsorship from a proposed UK employer, and proof of knowledge of English.

Education and health

There is a fast-track visa scheme for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. People eligible will pay reduced fees and be supported through the application process.

If successful, applicants will be exempt from the immigration health surcharge.

Applicants via this route will still have to meet salary thresholds depending on the type of work they do.

Many care workers will not be covered by the scheme though.

To qualify for a Health and Care Worker visa, you must:

  • be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional or adult social care professional
  • work in an eligible health or social care job
  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do

You must also have a confirmed job offer before you apply and be able to speak, read, write and understand English (and be able to prove this when you apply).

You can apply to extend or update this visa (which can last up to 5 years), and apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’, which gives you the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as you like.

Does everyone need a visa?

  • Citizens of EU countries who were living in the UK before the end of 2020 can apply for EU Settlement Scheme.
  • They had until 30 June 2021 to apply for settled status, although the government has said that it will still accept applications from anyone with a reasonable excuse for a delay.
  • There are also different schemes for some workers – for example, there is a Global Talent, Innovator and Start-Up visa.
  • The government says this is designed to attract “those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture”.

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