UK: Announcement On Points Based System

Last Updated: 23 April 2007
Article by Sandra Cole, Sarah Keeley and Nadine Owen

Liam Byrne, the Minister for Immigration, yesterday announced the time table for the roll-out of the new Points Based System ("PBS") for managed migration:-

Tier 1, which will cater for highly skilled migrants such scientists and entrepreneurs, will be launched at the beginning of 2008;

Tier 2, which is designed for skilled workers with a job offer, and Tier 5, for youth mobility and temporary workers, will be launched in the third quarter of 2008; and

Tier 4 which is for students, will be brought in at the beginning of 2009.

The system of sponsorship by employers and educational institutions to ensure compliance with the new PBS system will be introduced as part of the new system at the beginning of next year.

The Government believes that regulating migration through this new system, which is designed to be simpler and more secure, sits squarely alongside Government initiatives to tighten UK immigration controls. This includes implementing new technology to record details of passengers intending to enter or leave the UK before they begin their journey, and the strengthening of the UK's visa system.

For further information on the Managed Migration system and what it means for your business please see the article in full below:

Full Article

Proposed New Points Based System For Migration

On 7 March 2006 the Home Office published a paper on changes to the UK immigration system under the Government's five year plan that was announced in February 2005: "Controlling our borders: Making migration work for Britain, five year strategy for asylum and immigration". The Home Office advise that the new system will be designed in consultation with interested parties over the next couple of years and will be phased in (probably Tier 1 first). No dates have yet been set for when this phased implementation will start.

The first changes to come into force following the 7 March announcement were publicised on 13 March 2006 and affect people applying for leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain (or settlement) in the UK. These important changes will take almost immediate effect from 3 April this year. The changes extend the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) from 4 years to 5 years for persons in all current employment-related categories of entry to the UK (including work permit holders, highly skilled migrants, investors, innovators, sole representatives, UK ancestry entrants, those setting up in business or self employment and retired persons of independent means). Further details of these changes are provided in our law now article: Changes to the immigration rules - leave to remain and settlement.

The New System

The new points-based system will have 5 tiers.

Tier 1 is for highly skilled migrants. It will be similar to the existing highly skilled migrant programme, under which points are awarded for education, work experience and previous earnings. However, the new system will offer substantial points for under 27s and under 32s. In effect, the Government is keen to attract younger entrepreneurs with potential. An exciting development is that there is a proposal for this group of migrants to obtain permanent residence after 2 years (as opposed to 5 years under the system announced 13 March).

Tier 2 is for employer-sponsored applications. Employers will be rated A or B. Employers who are rated A and who wish to bring migrants to fill shortage occupations will be able to do so with relative ease and extra points are given to migrants intending to work for an A rated employer. A new body called the Skills Advisory Body will determine those jobs that are shortage occupations. If the job is not a shortage occupation then the migrant will have to gain additional points from academic qualifications, earnings, work experience, etc. Workers who join one employer and wish to move jobs must apply again. Work Permits (UK) in Sheffield, which currently administers the work permit system, will now be used to monitor employers and will be responsible for the A and B ratings. The Home Office will look at factors such as whether migrants do genuinely join the employer and so on. The actual migrant application will be submitted to and dealt with by UK Visas at diplomatic posts overseas.

Tier 3 is for specific new schemes that will be designed on a needs basis prompted by the new Skills Advisory Body. The schemes will be quota-based, will be temporary and dependants will not be permitted to come to the UK. The Government is expected to announce the abolition of the current sector-based schemes, designed to meet the needs of the hotel and catering industries and the agricultural sector. It believes that workers from Eastern Europe can meet these labour needs.

Tiers 4 and 5 are for students, working holidaymakers and such like. Working holidaymakers currently come from Commonwealth countries. Under the new scheme, they will be drawn from any country where there is a reciprocal agreement.

Sceptics of the new system will be doubtful that the Government will be able to merge 3 computer systems into one. There is also likely to be criticism of the abolition of appeal rights, which will be replaced by an administrative review procedure.

Julia Onslow-Cole, Partner of CMS Cameron McKenna and head of our Global Immigration Team appeared in BBC news coverage of the Home Office announcements and was quoted in the Times article: "Points system will favour skilled immigrant workers, says Clarke" and in the Financial Times article: "Points for migrants to favour high-fliers" on 7 March 2006.

To read the Times article, please click here.

To read the FT article, please click here. Please note, you need to be registered with the FT to view the full article.

For more information on these details and how they may affect you or your expatriate workforce, please contact us.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 19/04/2007.

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