white and red UNK airplane under blue sky during daytime

In the 12 months to June 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 1,064,000 people immigrated to the UK, with the country posting a net migration of more than 500,000 people.

This is significantly up from 331,000 net migration in the year ending June 2021. The ONS attributed the year-on-year rise to the increased demand for skilled labour from non-EU migrants, including students, following the resumption of global travel.

Since Brexit, the UK government has devised a new points-based system, aimed at migrants wishing to live and work in the UK. The new system was unveiled and launched in January 2021, after the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

All you need to know about the UK’s point-based immigration system

The main target for migrants seeking a move to the UK is 70 points. There are several attributes or factors that can help immigrants to accrue sufficient points to make an acceptable application for a skilled worker visa. English-speaking immigrants would accrue ten points towards the full 70-point target, for example.

With so many hoops to seemingly jump through, it can feel like a thankless task applying to migrate to the UK. The biggest issue for many applicants is the relatively new nature of the points-based system, which means few can be totally confident of a positive outcome. Enlisting the guidance of immigration lawyers could be a solution to getting peace of mind and clarity over an application. They know the application framework inside out and can support those with complex matters, criminal backgrounds or those simply needing a quick decision.

Individuals with a pre-existing job offer at appropriate skill levels from an employer with a sponsored licence will also accrue 20 points apiece towards the 70-point goal.

Since April 12, 2023, the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers was raised from £25,600 to £26,200 to take into account rising inflation. Some jobs that offer a salary below this £26,200 threshold will still award applicants with points towards their 70-point target. For instance, vacancies in health and education will still be worth 20 points to applicants. There is also a string of job roles listed on a ‘shortage occupation shortlist’, detailing vacancies that UK businesses and organizations are in dangerously short supply of.

Are seasonal workers treated the same?

man in gray hoodie and black pants holding brown cardboard box

Those wishing to come to the UK to live and work for a temporary spell, perhaps for seasonal work, can still apply for a seasonal worker visa. Horticulture seasonal worker visas are valid for up to six months of the year, while poultry seasonal worker visas are valid from October 2 to December 31.

Individuals or families that lived in the UK prior to December 31, 2020, were required to apply to stay through the EU Settlement Scheme, but this program expired on June 30, 2021. Anyone missing the deadline will need a skilled worker visa to continue living and working in the UK.

International students can still venture to the UK for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. The student visa application system is a much simpler version of the new points-based immigration system. There is no limit on the number of international students either. Once their degrees are over, international students can remain in the UK for a maximum of two years using a graduate visa.

For those thinking of living and working or studying in London, be sure to check out our guide to the English capital. Any highly-skilled researchers or scientists living in an EU or EEA country, as well as Switzerland, may be able to move to the UK without receiving a job offer under the new scheme for global talent.

Published by HOLR Magazine.