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U.K.’s Points-Based Immigration System Set to Shake Up Talent

The U.K.’s points-based immigration proposal could impact the recruitment and retention of EU talent to and from the country moving forward.

 With U.K. PM Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party winning a dominant majority in the recent parliamentary election, plans for a points-based immigration system to attract talent will soon go into effect. Brexit is poised to reach its planned separation from the European Union, bringing along a new immigration system that is likely to affect the talent landscape of the U.K.

Johnson referred to his plan as an “Australian-style, points-based immigration system.” According to Financial Times, this refers to a talent-based and tiered scheme with three different levels. The top tier would be reserved for migrants identified as highly-skilled or “exceptional,” who would then receive fast-track entry. The second tier is reserved for skilled talent who would require a job offer as well as a certain number of points. Finally, the lower tier would allow for low-skilled workers to stay in the U.K. in industries facing a labor shortage. The points apply to both EU and non-EU residents.

Similar Immigration Policies

Germany is another European country on track to bring in more skilled workers through the Skilled Worker Immigration Act. The German Parliament passed legislation in June 2019, with the changes becoming effective early 2020. Skilled workers (those who have completed German qualified professional training or an equivalent foreign university degree) will be able to obtain residence permits with a job offer.

Another country that uses a points-based immigration system is Canada, whose digital platform assesses whether submitted profiles meet minimum eligibility requirements. Those that meet them are awarded points based on factors such as skill transferability and the ability to integrate successfully, according to SHRM. New Zealand introduced a merit-based system in 2004, and U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed interest in doing so as well.

Impact on Workforce Mobility

Proponents of the system believe key elements of an effective points-based system include flexibility, responsiveness, and frequent reviews for potential adjustments. The U.K.’s proposed changes are worth noting for how they could affect the mobility of talent to and from the country, notably through recruitment of EU staff to the U.K. An article from Relocate Magazine explains that whether there’s a deal or no-deal Brexit, the changes won’t come into effect until January 2021. Additionally, EU staff already working in the U.K. can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they retain their current rights.

The U.K.’s proposed changes are worth noting for how they could affect the mobility of talent to and from the country, notably through recruitment of EU staff to the U.K.

However, EU nationals coming to the U.K. after Brexit but before the end of 2020 will not be eligible for settled status. They must instead apply for the Euro Temporary Leave to Remain, which gives them up to 36 months to work in the U.K., and then they must apply for further permission to stay. The rules after this point are currently undecided but are sure to be developed by the current administration.

Companies looking to recruit EU workers to the U.K. will need to stay ahead of these changes to the immigration system that could have tangible effects on both recruitment and retention. With the most recent election now complete, questions remain about the overall future of immigration in the U.K.

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