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UK’s points-based visa policy

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

UK’s points-based visa policy

What to study?

For Prelims: Features of the points- based visa policy.

For Mains: Advantages and disadvantages.

Context: UK has launched the new points-based immigration system, which intends to change the way migrants will come to the UK to work, study, visit or join their family.

  • Effective from January 1, 2021, the new immigration system affects the EU citizens, who will now be treated at par with non-EU citizens.
  • Non-EU citizens already follow a points-based system to migrate to the UK.

What’s a points-based policy?

The implementation of the points-based system does not change the status of those EU citizens already in the UK as per the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and those whose status under EUSS is settled. The points-based immigration system will take effect from January 1, 2021 and will end free movement between the UK and EU, treating both EU and non-EU citizens equally. Under this system, points will be assigned for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will be awarded to those who will have enough points.

How it works?

  1. Under this system, both EU and non-EU citizens will need to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, that the job offer is at the required level and that they speak English.
  2. Further, as per the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations, salary thresholds have been established.
  3. Further, a total of 70 points are required to be eligible to apply, with some tradeable characteristics of the system.

The points will be allotted in the following manner:

Offer of job by approved sponsor (20), job at appropriate skill level (20), speaks English at required level (10), salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 (0), salary of £23,040 – £25,599 (10), salary of £25,600 or above (20), job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) (20), education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job (10) and education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (20). Out of these characteristics, the first three are not tradeable, which means they are absolutely required to be eligible for visa under the points-based system.

What are the advantages of points systems?

The ability to qualify without an employer sponsor- workers entering under the Australian points system are less dependent on their employers and do not need permission to switch between jobs as they do in the UK; as a result, they are expected to have more bargaining power and to operate in a more competitive labour market.


The most common criticism of points systems is that they often do not require a job offer and if workers do not have employment lined up, it is difficult to know whether they are actually employable. The system relies on the government’s perception of what skills are valuable, rather than on the views of the employers who are to recruit them.  Other criticisms include the fact that eligibility criteria can be unpredictable if candidate are ranked against each other and a specific number admitted. This is because the bar for admission will be higher in periods when more other people are applying.

Sources: Indian Express.