UK: Theresa May Rejects Points-Based System for EU Nationals

Speaking at a press conference during this week”s G20 Summit, Prime Minister Theresa May rejected a “points-based system” to screen immigrants. Such suggestions are thought to contradict promises made within her government during the Brexit campaign, to bring in Australian-style controls over EU migrants.

Australia currently assesses immigrants according to a number of factors, including their occupation and qualifications. But many government officials, including Theresa May, believe that points-based systems were open to abuse, limiting control by the government over who enters the country.

The UK introduced a similar points-based system in November 2008. The current UK points-based System replaces over 80 UK Immigration routes that were available to migrants seeking permission to come to the UK. The current system is made up of five Tiers:

•    Tier 1 – Highly Skilled Workers

•    Tier 2 – Skilled Workers

•    Tier 3 – Lower-Skilled Workers (CLOSED)

•    Tier 4 – Students

•    Tier 5 – Temporary Workers

Notably, Tier 3 of the Points-Based System was initially thought to exist for those of a lower skilled level (such as seasonal workers). However, it was later insinuated that the UK had sufficient unskilled workers available within the resident labour market, meaning the Tier 3 route was never launched. A small number of immigration practitioners have suggested that adopting the Tier 3 Lower-Skilled workers route could offer a suitable route within the current “points-based system”, to favour workers from within the EU. 

Theresa May highlighted to reporters at the G20 in China that “What the British people voted for on the 23rd of June was to bring some control into the movement of people from the European Union to the UK“, going on to justify her objection to a points-based system, indicating that such systems do not give the control expected by the British People.

May has declared that she wants to see the introduction of a system that allows full control of who can cross British borders, allowing the government to decide who comes into the country. Such a system is to be based on what she feels the British people want.

It is important to remember that, at this stage, all EU nationals currently working and living in the UK will continue to have the right to remain until new legislation suggests otherwise. To initiate the UK”s departure from the European Union, Theresa May must invoke article 50 of the Lisbon treaty. The high court has been advised that Theresa May has no intention of triggering article 50 before the end of 2016. In essence, there is still some time to secure residence status in the country prior to the formal UK exit from the EU.

EU nationals are still advised not to panic regarding the prospect of a possible departure from the EU. Individuals and organisations are strongly advised to contact our team of specialist immigration consultants, should they wish to discuss the opportunity to apply for formal documentation to identify an EU National”s current right to reside in the UK.

For further information on this topic, or for advice on UK immigration in general, please email us at

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