The Government has set out its plans for a points-based immigration system to come into force on January 1, 2021.
In a policy statement published on February 12, the Government vowed to priorotise workers who wish to migrate to the UK based on their skills and not where they come from.
This has been both lauded and criticised by people across the party divide, as many question whether they or their relatives would pass the new threshold.
So, what is considered an “unskilled job” and would you pass the new test? We take a closer look.
What is an “unskilled job”?
The Government has set out the first phases of changes to immigration law in their policy statement.
As of 2021, no temporary or general visa options will be available to low-skilled migrant workers.
The minimum salary threshold for “skilled jobs” will be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600 for those coming to the UK with a job offer.
But people who do not have a sponsored visa from a company, fit the “required skill level” or do not speak good enough English may not be eligible to apply for a visa.
If an applicant earns less than the required minimum salary threshold – but no less than £20,480 – they may still be able to come to the UK if they have a job offer in a specific occupation which appears on the Government’s jobs shortage list, or if they have a PhD relevant to the job.
This could mean lower earners such as nurses may still be able to apply for a visa, provided a shortage of staff in this area remain on the approved list.
Currently there are no plans to introduce regional salary thresholds or different arrangements for different parts of the UK.
While there is not a single definition of what constitutes a low-skilled job or a low-skilled worker, the UK Government will not approve entry to those who do not meet the salary threshold or gain enough points for a visa.
How to pass the new points-based immigration system
All applicants – both EU and non-EU citizens – who want to live and work in the UK will also need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.
Points are awarded for key requirements including having a job offer from an approved sponsor cleared by the Home Office, a job offer that is at a “required skill level” and speaking English at a certain level.
Other points could be awarded for certain qualifications and if there is a shortage in a particular occupation.
The cap on the number of people who can come through the skilled worker route has been scrapped.
The new measures will allow for a small number of the most highly-skilled workers, who can gain the required level of points, to enter the UK without a job offer if they are endorsed by a “relevant and competent body”.
This will include science, technology, engineering and mathematics professionals.
Points will be awarded for factors such as academic qualifications, age and relevant work experience.
How many people could the new Immigration Bill affect?
The policy document mentioned the immigration system would “reduce overall migration numbers”.
But the Home Office has been unable to provide more detail on how this would be achieved and if a target number had been set.
It is estimated 70 per cent of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker route, which will help to bring overall numbers down in future, according the Home Office.
Around 3.4 million EU citizens are thought to be living in the UK and most are said to be unskilled or low-skilled workers.
Last week it was reported the new system could cut the number of low-skilled migrant workers from European Union countries by up to 90,000 a year.
The policy statement said: “UK businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement, and we will not seek to recreate the outcomes from free movement within the points-based system.
“As such, it is important that employers move away from a reliance on the UK’s immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity, and wider investment in technology and automation.”
“Both routes will provide employers with further ongoing flexibility in employing individuals into lower-skilled roles”, the paper said, but added: “We expect employers to take other measures to address shortages.”
How does the new immigration policy affect students?
Changes will also be made for those wanting to study in the UK.
Students will need to demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution.
They will also have to speak English and prove they can support themselves during their studies in the UK.
A pilot scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture will be quadrupled from 2,500 to 10,000 places.
Youth mobility arrangements with eight countries will continue with around 20,000 young people still coming to the UK each year.
How the immigration changes will affect Britain’s membership of the Euramus programme is yet to be established.
What about freelancers, asylum seekers and tourists?
Current arrangements for specialist occupations such as religious ministers, artists, musicians and entertainers are expected to broadly remain the same and be extended for EU citizens.
Self-employed and freelance workers can continue to apply for visas under existing rules and will not need to be sponsored.
Visitors, including EU citizens, will be able to come to the UK without a visa for six months but will not be allowed to work.
Asylum applications fall outside the points-based system and are expected to operate under existing rules.