A Scotland for the future: opportunities and challenges of Scotland's changing population

Scotland’s first national population strategy, framing the diverse and cross-cutting demographic challenges that Scotland faces at national and local level, and setting out a programme of work to address these challenges and harness new opportunities.

Annex A: Overview of new UK Government immigration system

The Start Up, Innovator, and Global Talent routes have replaced Tier 1 as the intended entry routes for so-called 'high-value migrants'. The Global Talent route is linked to a new cross-departmental unit named the Office for Talent. The Global Talent route may address some barriers to talent attraction, but the costs are high. For example, the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society have estimated that there will be an upfront cost for a family of four on a five year Global Talent Visa of £13,000, in contrast to a £1,000 fee for the same family under the French talent visa.

The Skilled Worker route has replaced Tier 2 as the primary route for those coming to the UK to work, adapted to establish a revised points-based system:

  • The cap on the route will be removed
  • The 'resident labour market test' will end
  • The skills threshold will be reduced from RQF6 to RQF3
  • The salary threshold will be reduced from £30,000 to £25,600
  • Lower salary thresholds will apply to: those with a job classified by the Migration Advisory Committee as a 'shortage occupation', those with a relevant PhD, and those new to the labour market, with a minimum salary requirement of £20,480
  • A job offer from a sponsoring employer will remain a requirement, and an English language requirement will be introduced

Within this route, those in specific occupations will be eligible for a Health and Care visa, offering fast-track entry, reduced application fees, support in the process, and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Notably the list of occupations does not include workers in the social care sector. 

The Student route has replaced Tier 4, and the basic requirements of the route will remain the same: sponsorship at a licensed provider, English language skills, and the ability of the student to support themselves in the UK.

A new Graduate route will launch in summer 2021, offering international students leave to stay in the UK to work, or look for work, after they graduate. Undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to stay for two years and PhD students for three years after graduation, with the possibility of switching onto a route that leads to settlement, such as the Skilled Worker route. 

Temporary visa routes previously under Tier 5 are broadly unchanged, including routes for temporary creative, sporting, charity and religious workers. The Youth Mobility Scheme also allows some non-EU nationals to come to the UK on a working holiday, but there are currently no plans to extend this to EU nationals. None of these temporary visa routes lead to settlement, nor are applicants permitted to switch onto a long-term route in-country.

A pilot scheme for seasonal agricultural workers concluded at the end of 2020. The Home Office is reviewing the pilot and it is anticipated that the scheme will continue under the new immigration system. The pilot was capped at 10,000 workers, but stakeholders have stressed this would need to be scaled up rapidly to 70,000-80,000 to meet UK-wide needs within the sector.

The family migration route is unchanged and remains highly restrictive, but now applies to EU family of UK nationals, and to EU family joining EU nationals in the UK. The Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that the UK Government review the family migration route, however.

At the end of January 2021, the UK Government launched a new immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) from Hong Kong and immediate family, allowing them to live and work in the UK, and providing a pathway to citizenship. 

In addition, a small number of overseas migrants enter the UK via the asylum process and other humanitarian programmes.


Email: population@gov.scot

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