New points based immigration system to take effect from January 2021
The Home Office has announced the new points based immigration system that will take effect from 1st January 2021. It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
- 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, EEA and Swiss citizens will also be able to use ePassport gates (this will be kept under review).
- Until at least January 2026, the UK will continue to recognise identity cards used for travel by EU citizens and their EU family members who are both resident in the UK before the end of the transition period and hold status under the EU Settlement Scheme. We will also recognise ICAO-compliant identity cards from this group beyond 2026.
- For newly arriving migrants, we intend to phase out the use of insecure identity documents and will set out further details on this shortly.
Permission to travel requirement:
- As part of a phased programme to 2025, the UK will introduce a universal ‘permission to travel’ requirement which will require everyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) to seek permission in advance of travel to facilitate the passage of legitimate travellers whilst keeping threats away from the UK border.
- Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) will be introduced for visitors and passengers transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays or who do not already have an immigration status prior to travelling. Our ETA system will require applicants to undertake a light-touch application process, which will allow security checks to be conducted and more informed decisions taken on information obtained at an earlier stage, as to whether individuals should be allowed to travel to the UK. This will act as their permission to travel.
- The aim is to make the visa a digital document to replace the paper one and will be the equivalent of a permission to travel.
- At the border, a passport will be required to demonstrate identity. During 2021, EU citizens (other than those with protected rights under the Withdrawal Agreement) will have to use a passport rather than a national ID card to cross the border. Further details on changes to border control procedures affecting EU citizens will be announced in due course, following the negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship.
Points based system:
- From January 2021, the job a migrant is offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). Migrants will also need to be able to speak English and be paid the relevant salary threshold by their sponsor. This will either be the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher.
- If a migrant earns less than this – but no less than £20,480 – they may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against their salary. For example, if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job. Find more information on the points based system here.
- New immigration routes will open later this year for applications to work, live and study in the UK from 1 January 2021. Migrants will be able to apply and pay for their visa online.
- EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will need to provide a digital photo of their face using a smartphone app. They will not have to give their fingerprints. For a small number of low volume routes (to be confirmed later this year) they will need to go to an overseas visa application centre to have their photo taken.
- Non-EU citizens will continue to submit fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.
EU citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020:
- An EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK before 31 December 2020 can apply with their family to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.