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The UK Government has announced a new points-based immigration system that will take place from the 1st of January 2021, once freedom of movement with the EU has ended, with a view of “ensuring that the UK continues to attract the brightest and the best from around the world”.

According to the Government, the new Points-Based Immigration System will award points for specific skills, professions, salaries or qualifications/attributes, and visas will be awarded to those who gain sufficient points.

It will also treat EU and non-EU citizens equally, prioritising those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, innovators and academics. The skills threshold for foreign nationals wanting to work in the UK will be lowered from degree level to A-levels or their equivalent.

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In addition, the minimum general salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600, down from the previously proposed £30,000.

Applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics if they do not meet all the requirements. Tradeable points will be given for salary, a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, and educational qualifications.

As part of the major changes, the Government wants to reduce overall migration numbers and, thus, will not implement a route for lower-skilled workers. According to the Government, this decision aims to move UK employers away from a “reliance” on the UK’s immigration system.

The announcement will also formalise a new fast-track NHS Visa for certain medical professionals with NHS job offers, reducing their visa fees and providing support to come to the UK with their families. Applicants will need to have a job offer from the NHS, be trained to a recognised standard and have good working English language skills, says the Government.

These developments come on the back of the UK’s Graduate route announcement, which will allow eligible international students to stay in the UK for two years after completing their studies to work or look for work. The new Graduate route will be introduced from the summer of 2021. There continues to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK to study.

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