#1 More jobs (occupations) can be sponsored for a UK work visa. Old rule: only degree-level jobs were allowed for a Tier 2 General visa. New rule: jobs at A level (RQF Level 3) are allowed for sponsorship under the new Skilled Worker visa.
#2 Switching from another visa category (without leaving the UK) has been made easier! For example, you can now switch from a Tier 5 YMS visa to a Skilled Worker visa while in the UK, without interrupting your work. You can also switch from a family visa such as from a Partner visa to a work visa if your relationship has broken down and your employer wishes to sponsor you. Switching from a Student visa remains as before.
#3 To continue on the above, this deserved a separate point - switching from Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) is allowed from December 2020! This is fantastic news for all those long-suffering Tier 2 ICT migrants, desperate to switch to a visa that leads to settlement in the UK. The ICT category was easier and cheaper for the employers but for the migrants - not so much. As an ICT migrant, you couldn’t qualify for settlement, had to leave after 5 years (without PR status) and couldn't switch to the main work visa (Tier 2 General under the now ‘old’ system) without a 12-month cooling-off period. We have a separate more technical post on ICT here.
#4 Talking about the cooling-off period. It’s history and doesn't exist in the new PBIS.
#5 UK businesses no longer have to advertise jobs to settled workers to justify hiring a foreigner.
#6 No annual limit - no more restricted certificates or waiting for a place! This applied to entry visas in the past, but also affected those who had to leave the UK and apply from abroad, such as those switching from Tier 5 visas.
#7 No more cap on the number of years you can spend in the UK. Tier 2 General migrants and a maximum limit of 6 years (for most migrants) and Tier 2 ICT - 5 years. After that they had to either qualify for settlement or leave the UK, ie couldn't keep extending forever. Some couldn't qualify for settlement, however, mainly because they exceeded the limits on absences and mainly due to the nature of their work. Now they can keep extending.
#8 Salary: this part is being made easier but also comes with a points table. It will be the case of careful calculation to get it right. The main minimum is down from £30,000 to £25,600, but it is still subject to the ‘going rate’ for your occupation code, whichever is higher. You can still change hours, subject to the blanket minimum. A New Entrant salary levels remain and will apply to a wider range of migrants than under Tier 2.
#9 No higher salary threshold for settlement (Indefinite Leave), ie no more ‘minimum £35,800’ etc. The above ‘minimums’ apply, ie either a blanket minimum or the going rate unless tradable. If all this sounds confusing, it is because there are indeed many rules on salaries but we can guide you on that!
#10 Truly points-based. The old Tier 2 visa was points-based only in the name. There were points but you had to either score them all or you couldn't get a visa. The new system offers some tradable points, where an expensive salary can be ’traded’ for something else, such as a job on shortage occupation list or for a PhD qualification.
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