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An international student guide to the new UK points system

UK points system
Planning to head to the UK in 2021? Get up to date on the new points system for immigration. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

From 2021, the new UK points system for immigration will be implemented on all foreigners, including Europeans. As previously reported, it replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa effective Oct. 5, 2020. Now, any of you who intend to study in the UK should familiarise themselves with this system. Here’s how the new UK points system will affect international students and graduates.

UK points system

Pedestrians cross Westminster Bridge as the sun sets behind the Palace of Westminster, the home of the Houses of Parliament in London on Dec. 4, 2020. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

How does the UK points system work?

International students must achieve at least 70 points to qualify for a visa, on condition that you’ve secured your place in the programme, can support yourself financially, and are fluent in the English language. These factors contribute to your points. The UK government hopes to attract 600,000 international students to its universities by 2030. Apply for a student visa here.

How will this affect the student visa?

Students outside the UK may apply for visas six months before their course starts. Under the previous Tier 4 visa requirements, they only had three months to apply and secure that visa. A longer lead time should help smoothen processes, thus helping you secure your student visa ahead of your course. Be prepared to spend 348 pounds if you’re applying for a student visa from outside the UK, and 475 pounds to extend or switch to a student visa from within the UK.

Come summer 2021, there will be a new graduate visa to allow students who have completed a UK degree to study in the country for two years, or three years if they’ve completed a PhD. International graduates can stay in the UK for up to two years after graduating in summer 2021 as long as they enter the UK by April 6, 2021, and complete their final semester in the country.

What if I’m from an EU country?

According to the official website, “EU, EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss citizens will use an online service to view their immigration status and to prove their status to others.” Don’t worry, though — you may continue to provide your immigration status with your passport or identity card until June 30, 2021. Are you an EU citizen who has been living in the UK this year? Then you may be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, which will process your registration in the UK prior to Brexit. Apply before June 30, 2021.

What about work visas for international graduates?

Like students, you must also have 70 points to come to work in the UK. Veterinarians, graphic and web designers, chefs, scientists, architects, engineers, artists, and musicians are among the in-demand jobs right now. Health and education sectors are facing shortages, too, so entry is fast-tracked for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. According to the official website: “If your job is on the list, you can be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa.”

If you have those in-demand skills, it’s worth considering your employment prospects in the UK. As for the costs, a work visa will set you back between £610 and £1,408, not inclusive of a £624 medical fee charge per annum (refundable if your visa application is rejected). BBC provides this example to show how a university researcher might attain 70 points to qualify for a work visa:

UK points system

Source: BBC

Apply for a skilled worker visa here.

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