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Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford publishes helpful overview of the new points-based immigration system


New policy primer on post-Brexit system, focusing primarily on migration for work

Date of Publication:
21 May 2021

Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford publishes helpful overview of the new points-based immigration system

21 May 2021

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford this week published a usefully succinct overview of the UK's new points-based immigration system (PBS), as introduced following Brexit.

LogoYou can read the Migration Observatory's policy primer online here or download it here.

It outlines the main features of the UK's new immigration system, focusing primarily on migration for work, and considers the likely impact on the economy.

The policy primer explains that the most important changes introduced by the new system are the end of free movement and the changes to the main long-term work route, which saw the Skilled Worker visa route replacing Tier 2 (General).

As the Migration Observatory notes, while the lead-up to the introduction of system ahead of Brexit had seen much talk by the Government of it being an 'Australian-style' system, the reality of the Skilled Worker route is very different to Australia's main Skilled Independent route.

Australia's PBS focuses primarily on an individual's characteristics and does not require applicants to have a job offer or tie applicants to a specific job. In contrast: "the UK's points-tested route requires a job offer, and applicants must do the specific job for which they are sponsored. This makes it a relatively conventional employer-led system of the kind that operated in the UK before Brexit."

In addition, the policy primer notes that the Australian PBS does not include salary as a criterion, whereas the UK's new PBS uses salary as the most important factor.

The Migration Observatory's policy primer also considers the costs of work visas under the new system and how easily migrant workers can settle in the UK.

Under the previous Tier 2 (General) route, a worker could remain in the UK for a maximum of six years and then had to apply for settlement if they wished to stay longer. Under the new Skilled Worker route, there is no maximum period of stay, meaning a person can work indefinitely under this route if they keep extending their visa. The total cost of a typical route to settlement for a Skilled Worker would currently be almost £7,000.

On the impacts of the new immigration system, the Migration Observatory finds that the likely effects are very difficult to forecast with any confidence, especially as it will be difficult to disentangle the effects of the new system from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy paper consider it reasonable, however, to expect the new system to lead to a decrease in EU work and study migration and an increase in non-EU workers coming to the UK.