Gone are the days pre Brexit, when EEA Nationals had a right of free movement and could simply arrive in the UK without employment, look for a job and start working.  However, with free movement between the UK and the EU having ended on 31 December 2020, from 1 January 2021, anyone coming to work or study in the UK from anywhere in the world including all EU countries, will now all be treated in the same way and will need to apply through the UK’s new points-based immigration system.

The new points-based system has also seen a bit of a makeover, with some categories being abolished, new ones introduced and others being amended to make it more attractive. Whilst UK Visas and Immigration also claims the process has been simplified, general consensus is that this is not the case at all, in fact the guidance documents now stretches into hundreds of pages. 

The old Tier 2 route has been rebranded as the Skilled Worker route, which is claimed, will provide simple, effective and flexible arrangements for skilled workers from around the world to come to the UK.

The Skilled Worker Route:

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, all applicants must:

  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office ( hold a sponsorship licence)
  • must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa and have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’  otherwise known as a COS, from the employer with information about the role  being offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary of £25,600.00 per annum or the going rate.

The job offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). An Applicant also needs to be able to speak English to a certain standard and be paid the relevant salary threshold by the sponsoring employer. This will either be the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

If the Applicant will earn less than this - but no less than £20,480 – they may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against the salary. For example, if the job offer is in a shortage occupation or the Applicant has a PhD relevant to the job.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, applicants will have to satisfy meeting a total of 70 points:

50 Points for the following mandatory criteria:

  • 20 points for an offer of a job by an approved sponsor
  • 20 points for a job at an appropriate skill level
  • 10 points for English language skills at level B1 (intermediate)

The applicant can achieve the remaining 20 tradable points in a number of ways through a combination of points for their salary, a job in a shortage occupation or a relevant PhD:

  • 20 points if they are due to be paid at least £25,600.00 per annum or the going rate, whichever is higher.
  • 10 points for having better qualifications such as a  PhD relevant to the job, or 20 points for a PhD in science, technology, engineering or maths known as the STEM subjects.
  • 20 points for a job offer on the UK’s shortage occupation list, even if it the salary is less than £25,600.00 per annum, but more than £20,480.00 per annum
  • 10 points for a salary of at least £23,040 - £ 25, 599 and at least 90% of the going rate for the profession

Other routes now available include:

The Global Talent visa, for individuals who can show they have exceptional talent or exceptional promise in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, digital technology or arts and culture;

The Innovator visa - for individuals seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable and scalable business ideas;

The Start-up visa - for individuals seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. It must be different from any other business already on the market;

The Intra-Company Transfer route - which is for established workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to do a skilled role in the UK. There is also a Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa which is for transfers to the UK as part of a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role ;

The Health and Care Worker visa - a fast-track entry system for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Most care workers will not be covered by the scheme though. Those eligible for this visa will pay reduced fees and be supported through the application process. Successful applicants will be exempt from the immigration health surcharge. Applicants via this route will still have to meet the relevant skill level and salary thresholds.


For assistance with any of the above, please contact our immigration team on 0121 698 2200 or email Andre on a.minnaar@sydneymitchell.co.uk or Melissa on m.southall@sydneymitchell.co.uk

UK Top Tier Firm 2021 Lexcel Practice Management Standard Birmingham Law Firm of the Year for 2011 Resolution Collaborative Family Lawyer
The Law Society Accredited in Family Law Conveyancing Quality Scheme