Guidance

New immigration system: what you need to know

The UK has introduced a points-based immigration system.

This page will be updated with the latest information about the new points-based immigration system as it becomes available.

Free movement with the European Union (EU) ended on 31 December 2020 and there are new arrangements for EU citizens. Irish citizens can continue to freely enter, live and work in the UK.

Visa application process

New immigration routes have opened for applications to work, live and study in the UK.

You can apply and pay for your visa online.

When you apply, you’ll be asked to provide your biometric information. The process for this is:

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

For most visas you’ll provide a digital photo of your face using a smartphone app. You will not have to give your fingerprints.

For some routes you’ll need to go to an overseas visa application centre to have your photo taken.

Non-EU citizens

You’ll continue to submit your fingerprints and a photo at an overseas visa application centre.

Skilled workers

The points-based system includes a route for skilled workers who have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor.

The job you’re offered will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level). You’ll also need to be able to speak English and be paid the relevant salary threshold by your sponsor. This will either be the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate for your job, whichever is higher.

If you earn less than this - but no less than £20,480 - you may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against your salary. For example, if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

Details of how the points system works are in the further details document.

There is no general route for employers to recruit at or near the minimum wage.

If you’re not already a licensed sponsor and you think you’ll want to sponsor migrants through the skilled worker route, you should apply now.

Global talent scheme

The global talent scheme has been opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It allows highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.

International students and graduates

Student visa routes have been opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You can apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course

A new graduate visa is available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK.

Visiting the UK

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and other non-visa nationals do not require a visa to enter the UK when visiting the UK for up to 6 months. All migrants looking to enter the UK for other reasons (such as work or study) will need to apply for entry clearance in advance.

Check what is permitted under the visitor immigration rules before travelling to the UK as a visitor.

Getting married

You must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

You may need to apply for a Marriage Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were living in the UK by 31 December 2020

If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:

  • you have a later deadline - for example, you’re joining a family member who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 - for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse

Crossing the UK border

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America, Singapore and South Korea - with a biometric chip in their passports - can continue to use ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can also use ePassport gates (this will be kept under review).

You will not be able to use an EU, EEA or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021 unless you:

  • have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 but have not received a decision yet
  • have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit
  • have a frontier worker permit
  • are an S2 Healthcare Visitor
  • are a Swiss national and have a Service Provider from Switzerland visa

In these cases, you can continue to use your national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.

Proving immigration status in the UK

EU citizens

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens should use the online service to view their immigration status and to prove their status to others.

Read the guide on how you can view and prove your immigration status, as well as update your details.

Guidance for employers is available on carrying out right to work checks on EU citizens and their family members in the UK.

Non-EU citizens

Non-EU citizens can continue to use a physical document to prove their immigration status.

Those with a valid, current Biometric Residence Permit, Biometric Residence Card or status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme can also prove their rights using an online service.

Guidance for employers is available advising how to carry out a physical document check or online check.

Published 28 January 2020
Last updated 1 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Removed guidance for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens visiting the UK to get married or form a civil partnership that expired on 30 June 2021. Removed guidance on right to work checks that expired on 30 June 2021.

  2. Added information about getting married.

  3. Information added from the further details statement on the UK's points-based immigration system.

  4. Updated the lower-skilled workers section for clarity.

  5. Information added from policy statement on the UK's points-based immigration system.

  6. First published.