Following the Home Office’s unveiling of the basis of the UK’s new “points-based” immigration system, a wealth of media coverage has focussed on what that could mean for EU nationals wishing to come to the UK to work from 1 January 2021.
One of the main aspects of the proposed new system is the fact that EU and non-EU migrants will be treated equally – meaning that in order to be able to live and work in the UK from after the end of the transition period both EU and non-EU nationals will need to satisfy the points requirement for entry. The proposed new points-based system will require a total of 70 points, with varying amounts of points being awarded for the migrants’ knowledge of English, the level of salary their intended position will offer, the skill level of the job in question and the migrant’s level of postgraduate qualifications. Some of these points categories will be ‘mandatory’, whilst others will be ‘tradeable’, so long as the prospective applicant can show they can amass the 70 point total needed.
The problem which many critics of the proposed new system have drawn attention to, however, is that the upper salary threshold of £25,600 (already reduced from the previous target of £30,000) is well above the salary levels paid currently in many jobs in a range of industries including the food, beverage and hospitality industry, agriculture and social care. Reports on this topic have emphasised that national statistics show that many people employed in these sectors of the UK’s economy – and EU nationals in particular – earn substantially less than this, and indeed less than the other two bands for which the Home Office intends to award points (£23,040 and £20,480).
This means that the proposed system will prejudice those parts of the economy which depend on low-skilled, low-wage labour. Analysis by the FT, for example, suggests this cannot but impact geographic areas with high numbers of EU migrant workers and/or areas where low-skilled, low-wage jobs predominate. It is not surprising that London has been singled out as potentially being among the hardest hit parts of the country by the incoming changes.
What has also been reported across the media is the sobering fact that a considerably high percentage of EU nationals who are currently living and working in the UK would in fact not be eligible to do so under the new rules being proposed for introduction in January 2021.
The FT’s analysis has shown that outer London would be particularly badly hit by the incoming rules, where up to 75% of the EU workforce would not be able to show the 70 points required by the new system. Given the varying levels of EU workers and the salaries they earn across the UK, the government are being urged to consider building into the new immigration system a degree of flexibility to account for regional differences. The government have so far resisted any such proposals, however, and we shall wait to see if the rationale behind geographic variation will gain any traction in the coming months.
Much can change between now and the intended introduction of the new points-based system in January 2021, and Gherson will be monitoring all developments closely.
Gherson has a wealth of experience in dealing with all UK visa and immigration matters. If you have any specific questions or queries in respect of your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Solicitor working in our Complex Case Team