The UK Government today announced the go-live date for Tiers 2 and 5 of the new Australian-style points based system (PBS).
These tiers, which cover skilled and temporary workers, will come into effect on 27 November – sweeping aside around 30 previous schemes, including the old work permit system. This is part of the biggest shake-up to the UK immigration system for 45 years. It will reinforce the UK’s position as a destination of choice for foreign workers, while tightening control against those who seek to abuse the system.
The changes will also end the Working Holiday Maker scheme which allowed 17 to 30 year olds from commonwealth countries to live and work in the UK as part of a cultural exchange. Anyone wanting to go the UK to work must from the 27th November qualify for a visa under Tier 1 or 2 of the PBS (provision is also specifically made for work in creative, sporting,
voluntary and religious sectors under tier 5 of the PBS).
To qualify under Tier 2, skilled foreign nationals will have to earn a certain number of points before being allowed to work in Britain. These points are awarded only if a person can prove they will be doing skilled work, speak a good standard of English, and have a recognised qualification. Points will also be awarded for prospective earnings. Employers in Britain will need a licence from the UK Border Agency to offer jobs to skilled workers.
The new system is fairer for applicants – allowing them to calculate how many points they will be awarded, and therefore if they are likely to be issued a visa, before making their application. Tier 2 is also simpler because it replaces a two stage application process with a single application.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
“The UK is a fantastic place to work and we want the UK to stay open and attractive to skilled workers. At the same time we are determined to deliver a system of border security which is among the most secure in the world.
“The new Australian-style points system will allow us to attract those people who have the skills we need. It is also flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of the labour market and the country as a whole.”
The Home Office will also introduce a new Business Visitor Visa for visa nationals on the 27th November to cater for business activities falling outside the points system. It will allow travel to the UK for people undertaking specific business activity – including attending meetings or conferences, arranging deals, undertaking fact finding missions, and conducting
site visits. Non visa nationals will not need prior entry clearance (visa) to come to the UK to
undertake this work.