After Canada, United Kingdom opening doors with new points based system

Reformed Global Talent route for top scientists, researchers, mathematicians set to open Jan 1.

For high-skilled Indians currently living and working in America as well as for those in a long line for US green card, this may come as great news. After Canada, that has been attracting Indian students and professionals, now United Kingdom is also opening its doors for the brightest and the best from around the world, including India.

In an encouraging move for Indian students looking at foreign destinations for higher education, UK plans to introduce a new points based immigration system from January 1 next year.

Launched by UK’s Indian origin Home Secretary Priti Patel, the new immigration system will give visas on the basis of points awarded for specific skills, professions, salaries, qualifications and attributes.

Providing a simple, effective, and flexible arrangement for skilled workers coming to the UK, the new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally, giving top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, innovators and academics.

The Home Secretary also announced a reformed Global Talent route with a new fast-track scheme for world’s leading scientists, top researchers and mathematicians to come to the UK.

This will run alongside the Points-Based Immigration System and will allow a small number of highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer.

“Today is a historic moment for the whole country,” said Priti Patel. “We will attract the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”

“The new Points-Based Immigration System is great news for Indian nationals looking to work in the UK,” said the Acting British High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson. “It puts Indian applicants on a level playing field, and prioritizes those with the greatest skills and talent – something which India has in abundance.”

“This news is just the latest example of the UK’s continuing global outlook following our departure from the EU, and further evidence of our commitment to strengthening the UK-India Living Bridge.”

These developments come on the back of the UK’s Graduate route announcement, which will allow eligible international students – including those from India – to stay in the UK for two years after completing their studies to work or look for work.

The new Graduate route will be introduced from the summer of 2021. There continues to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK to study.

Indian nationals continue to receive more skilled work visas than the rest of the world combined, accounting for 52% of all Tier 2 visas granted globally last year.

Over half a million UK visit visas were issued to Indians in 2019, up almost 10% from the previous year. Tier 4 student visa numbers also increased by 63% last year – almost four times faster than the percentage increase globally.

The new Points-Based Immigration System will award points for an appropriate job offer, English language skills, and a salary threshold. The education threshold will be reduced to A-level (Higher Secondary School Certificate or equivalent) from degree level, and the general salary threshold is being reduced to £25,600 from £30,000.

Applicants will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics if they do not meet all the requirements. Tradeable points will be given for salary, a job offer in a specific shortage occupation, and educational qualifications.

The UK Home Office will publish further details on the Points-Based Immigration System in due course, including detailed guidance regarding the points tables, shortage occupations and qualifications.

These new arrangements will take effect from January 1 next year, once freedom of movement with the European Union has ended.

The announcement will also formalize a new fast-track NHS Visa for certain medical professionals with NHS job offers, reducing their visa fees and providing support to come to the UK with their families.

Applicants will need to have a job offer from the NHS, be trained to a recognized standard and have good working English language skills.

Indians are already the largest non-British group of staff in the NHS with more than 21,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 7,500 nurses.

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