On 15 March 2022, the UK Government announced significant changes to the UK immigration rules (the Rules).
These changes will take effect on various dates between 6 April 2022 and 22 August 2022.
The changes include introducing new immigration routes, as well as rebranding and updating existing routes to attract top talent to the UK.
Many of the new routes are part of the UK Government’s efforts to recruit and retain top international talent and address concerns about labour shortages in the UK.
Set out below is an overview of the announced new Rules: we will provide a detailed update once the guidance is published for each route.
New immigration routes
High Potential Individual (HPI)
This route is for non-UK graduates who have graduated from a top 50 global university published in the Global Universities List by the Home Office.
This route will enable graduates to come to the UK unsponsored for up to two years, or three years if they hold a UK PhD equivalent, provided they were awarded the degree within five years of submitting the HPI visa application.
This route cannot be extended; it does not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as Permanent Residence or Settlement, so applicants will need to switch to another immigration category should they wish to continue living in the UK before the expiry of this visa.
Applications will be accepted from 30 May 2022.
This route is for existing companies, that are experiencing high levels of growth, to recruit talent to the UK. It appears to be an attractive option for companies that fit the criteria, as well as for their staff.
To register for this route and apply for a sponsor licence, scale-up companies will need to demonstrate that they have had an annualised growth of at least 20% in terms of turnover or staff over the last three years. They must also have had at least 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
Once the company has been granted a sponsor licence, they can sponsor migrants to fill roles that are at RFQ level 6 (degree level) with a salary of at least £33,000. In order to reduce the costs of sponsoring migrants under this route, there will be no immigration skills charge.
Scale-up workers will be granted initial leave for two years but they do not require sponsorship after six months. This means that, after six months, they are free to work for any company in any role. However, in order to extend their visa for a further three years, they will need to have been paid at least £33,000 per year during at least half of their time in the UK as a scale-up worker.
This route does lead to ILR after five years provided the scale-up worker has earned at least £33,000 per year for at least 24 months of the three years immediately before applying for ILR.
Applications will be accepted from 22 August 2022.
New Global Business Mobility routes
The new Global Business Mobility routes consist of sponsored routes for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK for specific business purposes. Some of these routes replace/rebrand existing routes.
These routes do not lead to ILR and will only allow an individual to stay in the UK for five years in any six-year period.
These changes will take effect on 11 April 2022.
The Graduate Trainee route
This route replaces Intra-Company Graduate Trainee.
The Graduate Trainee route is for workers on a graduate training course that will lead to senior management or specialist position and are required to do a work placement in the UK.
The Senior Specialist Worker route
This route replaces Intra-Company Transfer.
The Senior Specialist Worker route is for overseas employees who are being temporarily assigned to a linked entity in the UK.
The UK Expansion Worker route
This route replaces Sole Representative of an Overseas Business.
The UK Expansion Worker route is for senior overseas employees who will be setting up the first UK subsidiary of an overseas entity.
The current Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route will be close to new applicants apart from Media Representatives.
The Secondment Worker
The Secondment Worker is a new route is for overseas workers who are being temporarily seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employers.
Update to existing UK immigration route
There were minor changes to various UK immigration routes.
Students who make a valid application for permission to stay in the UK under the Graduate route may now start full-time permanent employment once they have successfully completed their course of study.
Students who make a valid application for permission to stay in the UK under the Skilled Worker route may now start full-time permanent employment up to three months before their course completion date.
These changes will take effect on 6 April 2022.
The introduction of new routes for highly skilled workers to come to the UK will be seen as a positive step in recruiting and retaining top talent in the UK.
The UK Government intends to introduce further changes to the Rules as part of its “New Plan for Immigration” in hopes to develop a UK immigration system that will contribute to economic growth in the UK. At present these are not believed to include a replacement for the Investor category.
Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.