February 27, 2020

The UK Government’s proposals for a new points based system (PBS) - FAQs

  1. Will employers need a Sponsors' Licence to employ EU Nationals?
    In most cases a Sponsors' Licence will be required to employ EU Nationals.  Sponsorship will not be required for those holding Global Talent visas or visas to be granted under a prospective, capped category applicable to the highest skilled candidates ineligible under the Global Talent category.
  2. Will the new PBS make it easier to recruit non-UK Nationals for skilled roles?
    Yes.  The reduction of the minimum skills threshold (RQF6 to RQF3), abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test presently required for most Tier 2 General applications and abolition of the current annual Quota for Restricted Tier 2 General Certificates of Sponsorship will simplify and expedite processes.  A reduction of minimum salary thresholds (see below) will also assist.  However, with the end of Freedom of Movement, employers will now face an administrative process and significant additional costs (including the Immigration Skills Charge and Immigration Health Surcharge) when employing EU Nationals.  The consolation for UK employers / EU Nationals is that access to the UK Labour Market for skilled roles will remain accessible. 
  3. What are the main criteria to meet the minimum points threshold?
    Successful applicants will need to achieve a minimum of 70 points across a variety of flexible sub-categories.  These will include a job offer from an approved Sponsor, meeting the minimum skills and salary thresholds, English language eligibility, a PhD in certain circumstances and designated Shortage Occupations. 
  4. What are the changes to the minimum salary thresholds?
    The minimum gross annual salary threshold will be reduced from £30,000 to £26,500 or the relevant Code of Practice threshold, whichever the higher.  The New Entrants' threshold will be a flat 30% of the rate for Experienced Hires.  The minimum earning threshold will need to be met by gross salary alone; allowances will no longer count.  Those earning gross annual salaries no lower than £20,480 will still be eligible to apply by supplementing additional points gained for those holding PhD qualifications in certain circumstances or for designated Shortage Occupations.
  5. Will time spent in the UK under the new framework accrue the right to indefinite leave to remain (ILR)?
    We await clarification of the new ILR eligibility criteria.  We expect that eligibility (potentially accelerated) will apply to the Global Talent and prospective highest skilled unsponsored routes.  Eligibility for the extended PBS framework may be conditioned on higher skilled roles and gross salaries. 
  6. Will dependents of PBS Migrants be permitted to work in the UK?
    We await confirmation but we believe it likely that eligible PBS dependents will retain their current rights to work in the UK.
  7. Will employers be able to employ unskilled workers?
    As presently indicated, eligibility for unskilled roles post January 2021 will be restricted to Sectoral Pilot Schemes, dependents of PBS migrants and entrants under the Youth Mobility Scheme.  Contrary to previous indications, the Government will not immediately introduce a limited temporary visa category for unskilled roles nor apparently extend the Youth Mobility category to EU Nationals. 
  8. Will post - January 2021 PBS Migrants be eligible for benefits?
    Eligibility for income related benefits will be restricted to those holding ILR / Settled Status.  Presently, EU Nationals can claim such benefits if they are lawfully economically active in the UK. 

If you have any queries, please get in touch with Jonathan Chaimovic or your usual contact within the team.