New visa routes: How can we use these to help fill vacancies?
The government announced several new business immigration routes to be launched in 2022 which consolidate and reform existing routes. The aim is to provide more opportunities for businesses to attract talent from overseas as well as to provide opportunities for growing businesses and recent graduates from international universities.
The new Global Business Mobility Visas comprise of five different categories:
1. Senior or Specialist Worker
This is the replacement for the Intra Company Transfer route and is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is a senior manager or specialist employee and is being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas.
2. Graduate Trainee
This replaces the ICT Graduate Trainee route and is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK where the worker is on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position and is required to do a work placement in the UK.
3. UK Expansion Worker
This route replaces the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route and is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK where the worker is a senior manager or specialist employee and is being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’ expansion to the UK. Unlike it’s predecessor route, it is a sponsored route, there is a minimum salary requirement and there is a cap of two years on this route – it is no longer a route to settlement.
4. Service Supplier
This route replaces the Tier 5 International Agreement category and is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is either a contractual service supplier employed by an overseas service provider or a self-employed independent professional based overseas, and they need to undertake an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments.
5. Secondment Worker
This is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK where the worker is being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment (worth at least £50 million) by their employer overseas.
All of these routes are sponsored, but they are not routes to settlement. Workers who do wish to settle in the UK will need to switch to a route to settlement, such as the Skilled Worker route. With limited exception, applicants must be coming to the UK to carry out a graduate level job and, with the exception of the service supplier and secondment worker routes, they must meet the relevant salary thresholds. Another common requirement between the routes is that the applicant must have worked for the sponsoring organisation overseas for a period of time, usually 12 months.
Two further routes have been announced and will open later this year, these are:
High Potential Individual Route
This will open on 30 May 2022 and is a non-sponsored route so holders of this visa are free to work for any employer. It is for recent graduates of top global universities who want to look for work in the UK following completion of an eligible course of study. They must have studied at graduate level or above and obtained their qualification in the five years prior to the date of visa application. Those that rely on a PhD will be granted a three-year visa and for non-PhD level qualifications, it will be a two-year visa. The Home Office will release a list of eligible universities and the applicant’s university must have been on that list at the date on which they obtained their qualification. This is not a route to settlement and applicants would be expected to switch onto another route to remain in the UK long term.
Scale Up Route
This will open on 22 August 2022 and it is the only one of all of the new routes that does lead to settlement. It is for talented individuals recruited by a UK Scale Up sponsor who have the skills needed to enable the scale up business to continue growing. In order to qualify for a sponsor licence on this route, a business must demonstrate that they have: an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3-year period in terms or turnover or staffing; and a minimum of ten employees at the start of this three-year period.
Applicants must complete six months of sponsored work and are then able to take up non-sponsored work or engage in self-employment. There is a minimum salary threshold of £33,000 per annum and in order to qualify for an extension following their initial two-year visa, applicants must demonstrate PAYE earnings of that level for at least one year of the initial visa grant. Earnings from self-employment will not count towards this. Extensions will be granted for a three-year period and applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after completing five years in the UK on this route.
The changes to the work routes were highly anticipated, particularly following the end of free movement, however it remains to be seen whether these options go far enough or whether additional routes will be required in order to fully address the nation’s labour shortages.
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