The UK’s new points-based immigration system

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Series Details CBP-8911, Number 8911
Publication Date September 2022
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The UK introduced a "new points-based immigration system" for work and student visas to coincide with Brexit. How does the system work and what has the impact been on immigration?

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A points-based immigration system allows economic migrants to qualify for work visas based on their personal characteristics and qualifications without necessarily requiring a job offer. The Labour Government introduced in 2008 what it described as a points-based system for non-EU immigration.

Following the 2016 European Union referendum, successive Conservative governments developed plans for unified visa rules to cover both EU and non-EU immigration. The changes that emerged at the end of 2020 came to be known as the new points-based immigration system.

The new system is similar to the ‘old’ points-based system, including an emphasis on employer sponsorship and the retention of most existing visa categories (with some modifications). But freedom of movement from the European Union ended at the same time as the new system was introduced, making EU citizens subject to the visa regime for the first time in decades. This was a significant change in immigration policy.

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