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U.K. Announces Post-Transition Brexit Immigration System

The United Kingdom will use a points-based immigration system following the end of the transition period of Brexit.

The U.K. Government has announced the implementation of a points-based immigration system on 1 January 2021 when the U.K. will no longer follow European Union (EU) immigration policy of freedom of movement. The system will be similar to the immigration policies of Australia, Austria, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, among others

The points-based system allocates work visas to those workers who have the sufficient cumulative points based on a definitive job opportunity in the U.K., meeting the salary threshold, being proficient in English, and education. Under the new system, the minimum salary threshold for full points for a position in the U.K. will be 25,600 pounds or approximately US$32,800. Although tradeable points can be provided in situations like shortage occupations, higher education and higher salary if not all the requirements are met.

The new system will apply to EU nationals looking to immigrate to the U.K. for work equally as to non-EU nationals. The U.K. currently uses a points-based system for non-EU workers, however, the requirements for minimum salary and education level have been lowered in order to receive the standard points for those criteria. The details are not yet available for intracompany transfers, but the current non-EU national system provides points for a confirmed position, appropriate salary of at least 41,500 pounds or US$51,100 and necessary maintenance funds.

The U.K. Home Office will be providing further guidance on its new points-based immigration system.

Brexit has played a role in shifting the dynamics of U.K. work immigration as the job market remains strong with a 3.8% unemployment rate as estimated by the U.K. Office of National Statistics (ONS). There are presently approximately 2.31 million EU nationals and 1.34 million non-EU nationals working in the U.K.

Since the Brexit referendum vote on 23 June 2016, the number of EU nationals relocating to the U.K. for employment has significantly decreased. For the year ending June 2016 to the latest ONS quarterly report issued on 27 February, the number of EU immigrants has dropped from a high of 190,000 to its lowest level since 2004 of 79,000 workers. The number of non-EU nationals moving to the U.K. with a job has increased, however, to 78,000 which has been the trend send 2013.

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How This Impacts Mobility

As of 1 January 2021, EU and Non-EU mobile employees sent to the U.K. will be subject to the same points-based immigration system. Until then, EU transferees will operate under the free movement policy and not have to apply for a work visa to be employed in the U.K.