In recent years, much has been stated by politicians and in the media about the UK’s immigration Point Based System (PBS), but what exactly does this mean? Here will explain what is meant by the UK Point Based System (PBS), who the PBS applies to, and how points are awarded.

What is the UK’s Point Based System (PBS)?

The UK’s Point Based System (PBS) is a way of ensuring that work, business, and study visas are only awarded to applicants who meet certain criteria. Under the PBS, the more criteria that are met, the more points that are awarded. As long as applicants score the minimum number of points, they are eligible to apply. The UK Point-Based Immigration System was introduced in 2021 following the UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) at the end of 2020. A new PBS was introduced by the Home Office as a way of:

  • controlling immigration
  • ensuring that those applying for visas from the EU would be subject to the same process and requirements as those from non-EU countries
  • simplifying the immigration system

There are some notable aspects of the new 2021 UK immigration point system which benefit applicants and employers. For example, there is no longer a cap on the number of Skilled Worker visas and employers. In addition, employers no longer need to complete a resident labour market test (RLMT) to prove that no settled worker is available in the UK to do the job being offered to an overseas worker. This reduces the cost and the time taken to recruit a suitable candidate for a vacancy.

Under the UK’s point-based immigration system, some visa routes are sponsored (i.e. the business or educational establishment needs a sponsor licence), such as the Skilled Worker visa. Some visa routes are unsponsored, such as the Global Talent visa.

Who is the UK’s Point Based System applicable to?

The UK’s Point-Based Immigration System applies to several types of visa applicants, including those applying under the following routes:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Health and Care Worker visa
  • Global Talent visa
  • Graduate
  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Intra-company Graduate Trainee
  • Start-up visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Student

How are points awarded?

There are two types of points available under the UK’s point-based system: mandatory points and tradeable points. Mandatory points are awarded for core criteria that must be met in order to qualify to apply for a visa. Tradeable points are awarded where certain eligibility criteria are met and can be used where the candidate may lack in other areas – e.g. a job in a shortage occupation will provide points that can be used to compensate for a lower salary (see below for an example of how this works).

The following table shows the UK Point Based System (PBS) as it applies to the Skilled Worker System:

Mandatory points required: 50

CriteriaMandatory or TradeablePoints
Job offer from a licenced sponsorMandatory20
Job at appropriate skill levelMandatory20
English language skills at level B1Mandatory10

Tradeable points:

CriteriaMandatory or TradeablePoints
£20,480 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (70% if new entrant)Tradeable0
£23,040 or at least 90% of the going rate for the professionTradeable10
£25,600 or at least the going rate for the professionTradeable20
£20,480 in an eligible health/education job that meets the relevant national pay scaleTradeable20
Non-STEM PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable10
STEM PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable20
Job in a shortage occupationTradeable20
The applicant is a new entrant to the labour marketTradeable20

How many points are required to work in the UK?

To work in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, applicants currently require 70 points.

Let’s consider the scenario of David, who wishes to apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa. Using the table above, it is possible to see how points are awarded. Firstly, David must score 50 mandatory points. This means he must have a valid job offer at the required skill level and speak English to the required standard.

With 50 points already awarded for meeting the mandatory requirements, David now only needs a further 20 points to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. This can be achieved by scoring 20 points for salary, for one of the other criteria, or a mix of both. In David’s case, he has been offered a salary above £23,040 (but below £25,600), but he also has a Non-STEM PhD relevant to his job. This gives him 10 points for his salary, plus 10 points for his PhD, making the 20 points required. As David scores 70 points, he can apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

CriteriaMandatory or TradeablePoints
Job offer from a licenced sponsorMandatory20
Job at appropriate skill levelMandatory20
English language skills at level B1Mandatory10
Salary above £23,040 (but below £25,600)Tradeable10
Non-STEM PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable10
PBS Table

How can Berkshire Law Chamber help?

As specialists in the UK’s immigration Point Based System (PBS) including work, business, and student immigration, Reiss Edwards can handle all aspects of sponsor licence and UK PBS visa applications. Our immigration lawyers can:

  • Explain how to secure a sponsor licence (for sponsors in the UK)
  • Handle the process of securing a sponsor licence
  • Ensure your organisation remains compliant with your sponsor licence requirements
  • Advise which UK PBS visa route is most suitable for your needs
  • Advice on bringing family members with you to the UK
  • Advice on how to gain permanent settlement in the UK in the shortest possible time
  • Deal with sponsor licence downgrades or suspensions
  • Advise on global mobility strategy for your organisation
  • Handle any type of PBS visa application
  • Review PBS visa applications and documentation prior to submission
  • Handle refusal of sponsor licence or PBS visa applications