Friday, April 19, 2024

UK Immigration in 2022: Newly Introduced Visas for Foreign Skilled Workers and Graduates

As part of its bigger plan to make the UK a global tech hub in the nearest future, fully recover from the Covid-19 downturn, and bolster the economy post-Brexit, the government is making further changes to its immigration rules. The changes which come with some newly introduced visas will take effect in Springs 2022.

The new changes will give UK businesses easier and quicker access to international talents and also help skilled foreign workers to achieve their dream of settling in the UK.

While the Graduate route and Global Talent introduced in 2021 are still being tweaked and expanded for better service, the government will soon introduce the following new, more effective, and flexible routes.

  1. Scale-Up Visa

The Scale-Up visa is one of the UK’s new immigration pathways for international talents and an integral part of its bigger plan to make Britain a global innovation hub by 2035.

The visa will be open to highly skilled individuals who have a job offer from an eligible UK company with at least a £33,000 annual salary. Other requirements may include English language proficiency.

Successful applicants will enjoy the freedom to switch employers while in the UK and may extend their stay for up to 5 years. Thereafter, they will become eligible to seek UK permanent residency by applying for the Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This means the route could eventually lead to British citizenship by naturalisation for eligible applicants.

International talents in tech and science and other highly skilled individuals will be among the biggest beneficiaries of the scale-up visa. This is because the UK is undergoing a shortage of skilled workers in those sectors. A recent report by Tech Nation shows that the UK advertised tech positions in 2021 was 42 percent higher than in 2019.

Another report by Scale Up Institutes shows that up to 21 percent of the staff of scale-up businesses surveyed in 2021 are from outside the UK. This shows the importance of international talents in the UK tech sector and other critical industries.

Though the framework for the visa application is still being finalised by the government, it is expected to be a timely and less rigorous process for applicants and their prospective employers – as it may not involve sponsor licence application.

In a 2021 policy paper, the Home Office specifically hinted that the scale-up visa will offer a fast-track route:

“In Spring 2022, we will also introduce a new, unsponsored points-based route to attract the brightest and best to the UK, with a particular emphasis placed on the very high skilled and academically elite.” The route will create a ‘scale up’ stream allowing applicants with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK based scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa, without the need for sponsorship.

  • Global Business Mobility (GBM)

The Global Business Mobility Visa is another high-value route set to launch in Springs. This visa will streamline the existing sole representative and intra-company transfer routes and bring the two under the same new and improved single pathway. It will make it easier for foreign-based companies to set up a UK firm or transfer their staff to the UK.

The Home Office said the GBM route will have five sub-categories, which are:

  • Graduate Trainee: Staff transferred to the UK as part of a training programme
  • Senior or Specialist Worker: Sent to the linked UK-based entity to carry out specific business assignments
  • UK Extension Worker: Sent to the UK to establish a presence to facilitate expansion for the organisation
  • Service Supplier: Sent to a UK based client to render a service in line with a UK trade agreement
  • Secondment Employee: Transferred to a UK company in high-value investments or contracts or sent to the UK for a specific business purpose.

The Global Business Mobility route may offer an option for companies to mobilise a team of workers as one unit. Just like other related routes, it may also require English language proficiency.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate a qualifying link between the UK entity they are being sent to and the overseas firm. In general, the GBM route is expected to be more flexible than the existing similar pathways.

  • High Potential Individual

This route aims to attract international talents with high potential who have graduated from top universities from across the world. Graduates will be able to move to the UK even if they do not have an employment offer.

The Home Office, in its policy paper, stated that: “There will be no job offer requirement, giving individuals the flexibility to work, switch jobs or employers and make contributions to the UK economy. The route will also allow eligible individuals to extend their visa and settle in the UK, subject to meeting specific requirements.”

It is not yet certain the eligibility requirements for “high potential” individuals, but it is evident that candidates will need to have graduated from government-approved institutions and demonstrate potential to contribute to UK economic growth. Criteria like grade, age, and course of study may come into play in determining eligibility for “high potential.”

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