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← Overview Database of Innovative Social Policies in Europe

Points-based immigration system

Country of implementation
United Kingdom
General short description of the innovation
?Points-Based Immigration System? (PBS) was introduced in 2008 and represents the UK?s main immigration route for migrants from outside the European Economic Areas to come to the UK to either work, study, invest or train. It consists of five ?tiers?. It replaced the previous work permit schemes. Under the PBS, those who wish to enter explicitly to work must come in under one of three tiers: Tier 1 (highly skilled), Tier 2 (skilled) or Tier 3 (low skilled), while students enter under Tier 4, and youth mobility schemes and temporary workers (e.g. au pairs) are covered by Tier 5. Shortly after its introduction, the criteria and conditions for entry under the highly skilled migrant programme (tier 1) were reinforced and new rules for pay and job advertisement for low skilled (tier 2) immigrants applied. Additionally, controls on colleges? ability to sponsor student visas were tightened up, and visa fees were increased. / / With regard to EU free movement rights, the labour market access of Romanians and Bulgarians remained restricted after their accession to the EU and was only opened up at the beginning of 2014.
Target group
Policy Field
    Type of Policy
    • public
    Duration of the policy
    since 2008
    Scope of innovation
    • Spatial coverage: national
    General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
    streamline and simplify the existing immigration system; ensure transparent and objective decision-making; strengthen compliance and enforcement measures by delegating responsibility to employers and education providers. In addition to this, the system was first and foremost implemented to exercise greater control over increasing migration levels while maximising the economic benefits of (mainly skilled) immigration to the UK.
    Type of innovation
    • new policy, practice or measure
    New outputs
    • regulations of the labour market (through an immigration and border control policy instrument)
    Intended target group
    Third Country Immigrants
    Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
    • agency or national social insurance body (formerly UK Border Agency, now UK Visas and Immigration office)
    • central state
    Intended output
    • regulation of the labour market
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