A European Union referendum held on June 23, 2016, had the people of the UK voting to leave the EU.

Consequently, the UK exited the EU on January 31, 2021.

The UK implemented a new points-based immigration system, aiming at the creation of “a high wage, high-skill, high productivity economy”.

From January 1, 2021, EU and non-EU citizens have been at par with each other.

Prioritising “the skills a person has to offer, not where they come from”, the UK seeks to bring into the country the most highly skilled workers, skilled workers, students as well as global leaders and innovators.

70 points will have to be scored for coming to the UK as a skilled worker.

Replacing the Tier 2 [General] work visa for the UK, the UK Skilled Worker visa allows an individual to come to or stay in the UK for taking up an eligible job with an approved employer.

Under the factors to be assessed for determining eligibility, a job offer from an approved sponsor and a job at an appropriate skill level will fetch 20 points each.

Meeting the required level in terms of proficiency in the English language will get a candidate another 10 points.

Now, the salary of the candidate enters the equation. Anything below £23,039 gets no points.

A salary anywhere between £23,040 to £25,599 gets 10 points. A salary of £25,600 or above fetches 20 points.

If the job that the individual intends to take up in the UK is a ‘shortage’ occupation – as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee [MAC] – they will be allotted another 10 points.

Higher education too has a part to play. A PhD in any subject relevant to the job is worth 10 points. A PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job is worth much more, fetching 20 points.

The salary threshold and education criteria are ‘tradeable’ and can be accordingly adjusted against each other.

Certain occupation codes – 2111, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2119, and 2311 – qualify for a salary discount. Individuals in such jobs can be paid 70% of the going rate for their job if working in a higher education role or postdoctoral position.

Specific jobs in health and education will get 20 points, even when the minimum salary threshold of £25,600 is not met by the individual.

Applications for the UK Skilled Worker visa might be started online. Certain individuals might have to visit a UK Visa Application Centre [VAC] for proving their identity and showing the necessary documentation.

As per an update on April 3, 2021, UK VACs are open at many locations across India — Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad, Jalandhar, Kolkata, Mumbai South, New Delhi, and Pune.

Those gaining entry into the UK in the capacity of a skilled worker can remain in the country for up to 5 years on their UK Skilled Worker visa. An extension or updation of the visa might be required in situations wherein either the visa expires or the individual switches their employer or job in the UK.

The UK Skilled Worker visa might be extended many times, provided, however, that they still meet the eligibility requirements.

Following a stay of 5 years in the UK, such individuals can also apply to settle permanently in the UK. This is an “indefinite leave to remain” or ILR giving an individual the right to live, work, and study in the UK.

Those transitioning onto an ILR must also meet the requirement for “continuous residence,” which involves the individual not having spent beyond 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months.

The UK will be focusing on getting the best and the brightest to the UK through other pathways as well. Open for applications from August 2020, the new UK Health and Care Visa seek to ensure that the “UK health and care services have access to the best global talent”.

Allowing UK graduates to stay in the country for 2 years [3 years in case of PhD graduates] for looking for a job after the completion of their studies, the UK Graduate route aims at retaining international students. The new UK Graduate route opens for applications on July 1, 2021.