Health and care visa to launch & the new UK immigration points-based system

14 July 2020

The UK is introducing a health and care visa as part of the new UK immigration points-based system which is to go ‘live’ in 2021. Here’s everything you need to know.

On 13 July 2020, the government set out further details on the UK’s points-based system. These new arrangements will take effect from 1 January 2021, once freedom of movement with the European Union (EU) has ended.

It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.

Visa application process

New immigration routes will open later this year for applications to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021.

You’ll be able to apply and pay for your visa online.

When you apply, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric information. The process for this is:

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

For most visas you’ll provide a digital photo of your face using a smartphone app. You will not have to give your fingerprints.

For a small number of low volume routes (to be confirmed later this year) you’ll need to go to an overseas visa application centre to have your photo taken.

Non-EU citizens

You’ll continue to submit your fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.

Skilled workers

The points-based system will include a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor.

From January 2021, the job you’re offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). You’ll also need to be able to speak English and be paid the relevant salary threshold by your sponsor. This will either be the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for your job, whichever is higher.

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

Details of how the points system will work are in the further details document.

There will not be a general route for employers to recruit at or near the minimum wage.

If you’re not already a licensed sponsor and you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route from January 2021, you should apply now.

Skilled Work: Health and Care Visa

There is a new health and care visa for key health professionals is set to launch as part of the new points-based system. Individuals of all nationalities who have a confirmed job offer, in one of the defined health professions, for a skilled role within the NHS, the social care sector or for NHS
commissioned service providers will be eligible to apply.

Global talent scheme

The global talent scheme will be opened up to EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens. It will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

International students and graduates

Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You’ll be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course

A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. You’ll be able to work or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years, or 3 years if you are a PhD graduate.

Visiting the UK

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and other non-visa nationals will not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for entry clearance in advance.

EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK before 31 December 2020, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

Proving immigration status in the UK
EU citizens

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will use an online service to view their immigration status and to prove their status to others.

Employers, landlords and public service providers will continue to accept EU citizens’ passports and identity cards as evidence of their immigration status until 30 June 2021.

Guidance for employers is available on carrying out right to work checks on EU citizens and their family members in the UK.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens can continue to use a physical document to prove their immigration status.

Those with a valid, current Biometric Residence Permit, Biometric Residence Card or status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme can also prove their right to work to an employer using an online service. Guidance for employers is available advising how to carry out a physical document check or online check.

Full details are within the official government documentation here.