Applications for the new work visa routes open today for eligible overseas workers who wish to work in the UK from 1 January 2021.
Workers from overseas – including the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals – will now be able to apply online for the skilled worker visa, the intra-company transfer visa, and global talent visa, among several other new entry routes that have been brought in under the UK’s new points-based immigration system.
Provided they meet the criteria, they will get a decision within three weeks, the Home Office said.
To be eligible for the skilled worker visa, which replaces the Tier 2 route, workers will need to gain enough points. Points are awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, knowledge of English, and for reaching a minimum salary threshold – normally at least £25,600 per year, unless the ‘going rate’ for the job they have been offered is higher.
Applications cost between £610 and £1,408 depending on individuals’ circumstances and whether their job is on the shortage occupations list. They must also pay the immigration health surcharge (£624 per year) and have at least £1,270 available to support themselves.
Applicants will also need to prove their identity and provide the relevant documents via the online system. Those successful under the scheme will be granted a five-year visa, which can be extended.
Home secretary Priti Patel said: “This government promised to end free movement, to take back control of our borders and to introduce a new points-based immigration system. Today, we have delivered on that promise.
“This simple, effective, and flexible system will ensure employers can recruit the skilled workers they need, whilst also encouraging employers to train and invest in the UK’s workforce.
“We are also opening routes for those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech, or culture.”
The Home Office said the new system will encourage employers to focus on training the UK workforce, “especially those impacted by coronavirus”.
Earlier this year, a new health and care worker visa was launched. Workers who apply under this category will be exempt from paying the immigration health surcharge.
Immigration law experts have said the new system is more flexible than its predecessor, but it has been noted that employers will need to act as “pseudo immigration officers”.