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The new UK immigration system, to be introduced from 1 January 2021, will put an end to freedom of movement with the EU. In this article, we summarised the new criteria and routes for immigrants coming to work, study or visit. But what does the new points-based system mean for Chinese nationals, specifically?

The changes to the UK’s immigration system are good news for any Chinese passport holder who wants to come and either work or study in the UK, as they will have a much better chance of securing a role than before. There are three main reasons for this.

First, the minimum skill and salary levels will be reduced, giving Chinese passport holders access to a greater variety of jobs than previously.

Second, the requirement to advertise the job in the UK, to see if there is any local interest, before offering it to a worker outside the UK, will be abolished. The exercise is usually very cumbersome and has put employers off wanting to sponsor workers from abroad. Often it results in local worker who has the relevant skills and qualifications applying, meaning the employer has (under the Immigration Rules) to offer the job to that worker, excluding the overseas worker. The absence of this requirement from 1 January 2021 means it will be much easier for employers to recruit from outside the UK.

Third, points can be traded for roles in a sector where there is a shortage of skilled UK workers (e.g. the health care sector, or areas related to science, technology, engineering or maths) or where the applicant has a PhD relevant to the role. This means Chinese passport holders applying for any of these jobs are much more likely to be eligible to apply for a work visa.

The changes to the ability to switch to a different visa while staying in the UK will also help Chinese passport holders to not interrupt their work or study here. For example, a Chinese passport holder on a spousal visa is not currently permitted to switch to a work visa in the UK; he or she would have to leave the UK to make the application. Whereas under the new system, the individual could apply to switch immigration categories from within the UK.

The cooling off period – the 12 months an individual who has exhausted their right to stay in the UK in their visa category and has left the UK and must wait before applying to re-enter the UK under the relevant visa category – will also be abolished from 1 January 2021. This means Chinese passport holders will have more options to remain working in the UK more continuously.

For those coming to study, the post graduate route provides Chinese passport holders with excellent opportunities to remain in the UK after their studies, to decide whether they want to remain in the UK to work. It gives them more time to undertake other jobs, not necessarily connected to their studies, to get a feel for working in the UK, or perhaps to gain skills to help them secure their preferred job.

Finally, the visitor visa will make it easier for Chinese passport holders to collaborate with support companies which will be beneficial if looking to invest in the UK.

It is clear the new system will greatly benefit Chinese passport holders, and that the range of roles and opportunities available for Chinese passport holders from 1 January 2021 will greatly increase.

Author: Angharad Aspinall

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