The new points based immigration system

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On 1 January 2021, when free movement ended, a new points-based immigration system replaced the one that the UK has managed inward migration with since 2008. It applies to everyone from outside of the UK (excluding the Republic of Ireland) wishing to live and work here. 

The end of freedom of movement has implications for those who previously could freely come to the UK from the EU for work and study. EU nationals now require a visa to work and study here and for students previously undertaking short trust placements, alternative arrangements need to be put in place. For information on the governments new Turing scheme, designed to facilitate global work and study, visit our latest news article

For individuals who arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 and who meet the requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme, the new system does not apply. EU nationals have until 30 June 2021 to secure their pre or settled status. More information on the settlement scheme can be found here.

The new immigration system aims to attract and prioritise highly skilled migration and improve the experience for applicants and employers. It provides routes for skilled workers, students, global leaders, and innovators. It does not however provide a mechanism to recruit other key workers into health and care, for example care workers in social care.

To improve the experience for employers, the system includes a dedicated NHS support and visa processing which will enable HR teams to contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if there are any issues with the application process or eligibility queries for the new health and care visa. Sponsors can contact UKVI’s NHS team directly at  

Employer resources

The Home Office has produced a dedicated suite of employer resources to support you. These include:

  • introduction to the points-based system
  • information on the new system and how to become a sponsor
  • podcast produced with Intelligence Squared outlining what the new immigration system and preparedness
  • key lines and guidance including information on right to work and frontier workers
  • right to work employer factsheet
  • guidance employers can share with EEA nationals helping them to understand their right to work responsibilities and processes
  • frontier worker permit information
  • overview of the sponsorship process
  • digital assets and animations to help you communicate to staff.

We understand that the system will continue to be refined with scope for additional flexibility and any changes will be reflected in this section.

Passport control

Sponsorship licence system

The migrant sponsorship system requires employers to hold a sponsorship licence before they can employ foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

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Skilled worker route

The skilled worker route includes the new fast-tracked health and care visa. Find out about eligibility, the immigration health surcharge exemption, and fee structure.

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Highly skilled worker route

The global talent route allows highly skilled individuals to come to the UK without a job offer.

young doctors

Student and graduate routes

Find out how students and graduates can apply for permission to enter the UK via the new points-based immigration system.

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British National (Overseas) Visa

The British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa gives applicants a right to work in the UK and here we outline some elements to consider if you would like to use this route as part of your workforce pipeline.

young people at computers

Youth mobility scheme

The youth mobility scheme will allow young people the opportunity to work in the UK for up to two years.

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Tier 2: Indefinite leave to remain

This page explains the criteria for individuals under a Tier 2 visa who wish to settle in the UK.

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Temporary Worker Government Authorised Exchange Visa

The temporary worker government authorised exchange visa allows international graduates to come to the UK to undertake further training, for example under the medical training initiative.

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Recruitment of overseas doctors and dentists

Doctors and dentists must have the right to work in the UK to be eligible for medical or dental posts in the NHS.


Frequently asked questions

Find answers to common questions about the new points-based system.


Immigration quick guides

Guides to help you navigate the new immigration system.

Related News

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The government has announced tougher border control measures to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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New workforce guide to help preparedness for the end of EU transition

Use our guide to help you further prepare for the end of EU transition and the new immigration system. Featuring a checklist and risk register, it is designed to help you identify gaps and mitigating actions.

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