The UK government’s new points-based immigration system came into force on Dec. 1, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced.
The Australian-style system means that skilled worker visa applicants will be awarded points based on job offers appropriate to their skill level, their knowledge of English, and a minimum salary.
The government hopes the new three-step approach will encourage employers to focus on investing and training within the workforce, which is hoped will increase productivity and future opportunities.
‘This government promised to end free movement, to take back control of our borders and to introduce a new points-based immigration system. Today, we have delivered on that promise,” Patel said in a statement.
“This simple, effective, and flexible system will ensure employers can recruit the skilled workers they need, whilst also encouraging employers to train and invest in the UK’s workforce.”
Speaking of additional visa types, which include a start-up visa for people who want to set up a new business in the UK, Patel stated that the government is “opening routes for those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture.”
Applicants are expected to be able to pay the application fees ranging from £610 to £1,408 ($817 to $1,887), a yearly health care surcharge of approximately £624 ($836), and also have at least £1,270 ($1,701) available to support themselves.
It is also expected that all job offers will meet the basic salary requirement of £25,600 per year or higher.
A decision is expected within 3 weeks of the application process being completed, and, once granted, the visa will last 5 years.
The issue of immigration, along with Brexit, was seen as being central to Boris Johnson’s General Election campaign in 2019, which saw him secure a landslide majority. But lately pressure has been mounting on the home secretary after a slew of channel crossings by migrants. At the Conservative Party conference in October, Patel announced she would introduce a new system that is “firm and fair.”
Speaking at the conference, Patel said, “After decades of inaction by successive governments we will address the moral, legal and, practical problems with the asylum system.”
She said the changes would amount to the “biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.”
The announcement on Tuesday comes as the free movement of people to the UK from within the EU ends on Dec. 31, 2020. Under the new visa system, applicants could technically begin to arrive in the UK from Jan. 1, 2021.