On 15 March 2022, the Home Office published its latest Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules and these include some significant changes to the routes available for sponsored and migrant workers in the UK, with the biggest changes the reclassification of the intra-company transfer categories and the introduction of new sponsored and non-sponsored work visas.
This article will summarise the key routes to be implemented from 11 April 2022 onwards.
Appendix Global Business Mobility
The following new Global Business Mobility routes includes 5 new visa routes to replace 4 existing business mobility routes.
Senior or specialist worker
- This route will replace the existing Intra-Company Transfer (‘ICT’) route
- It will be available for senior managers or specialist employees being assigned to linked UK business from their employer overseas. It is not yet clear how “seniority” or “specialism” will be assessed.
- The minimum salary threshold will be increased to £42,400 per year from £41,500
- If the worker is a high earner the threshold will remain at £73,900 per year
- This route will still not lead to settlement.
- This route “replaces” (but, in reality, tweaks) the Intra-Company Trainee (‘ICGT’) route
- This will be available for workers on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position, who are required to do a work placement in the UK
- The minimum salary threshold will be increased to £23,100 per year from £23,000
- The job offered must be part of a structured graduate training programme with clearly defined progression.
- No substantial change from the current ICGT category.
UK expansion worker
- This route is replacing the Sole Representative (in the Representative of an Overseas Business route)
- Applicants will be senior employees or specialist employees assigned to the UK for the purpose of expanding an overseas business.
- The business must already exist in the UK and have a sponsor licence (but must not yet be trading)
- Whilst the Sole Representative route previously only permitted one person to travel to the UK to conduct expansion of the business, this new route permits more than one person to travel for the same business’ expansion
- The minimum salary requirement for this route will be £42,400 per year
- The Representative of an Overseas Business will remain open as a route for initial and settlement applicants by Media Representatives and extension/settlement applications for Sole Representatives
- This route does not lead to settlement.
- It is unclear what benefit this visa will have over a more straight forward skilled worker visa (with a lower salary threshold and a route to settlement), save that the English language requirement does not apply.
- This route will replace the Contractual Service Supplier and Independent Professional provisions in the Temporary Work – International Agreement route
- This route will be available to overseas contractual service suppliers and self-employed independent professionals undertaking an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments
- The Temporary Work – International Agreement route will be kept open for private servants in diplomatic households and employees of overseas governments or international governments.
- This is a new route that will be available to workers being seconded to the UK as part of high value contracts or investments by their overseas employers
- The sponsor must have a contract (registered with the Home Office) with the overseas business which is seconding their employee to the UK
- We expect further clarification on the definition of “high value contract or investment” before this route comes into effect.
Appendix High Potential Individual (HPI) – takes effect from 09:00 on 30 May 2022
The High Potential Individual route will ‘introduce an elite points-based route to attract the brightest and best to the UK to maintain our status as a leading international hub for emerging technologies’.
- This route is for recent graduates with a degree, equivalent to a UK bachelor’s level degree or above, from a top global university outside the UK, as per the Global Universities List (to be published by the Home Office)
- This annually released list will consist of institutions included in the top 50 Universities from least 2 of the 3 following lists:
1) Times Higher Education World University Rankings
2) Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
3) The Academic Ranking of World Universities
- Permission will be granted for 2 years for applicants with bachelor’s or master’s level degrees, or 3 years if they have a PhD level degree
- The key benefits to this route are that applicants are not required to be a student in the UK and can apply up to five years after the date they obtained their degree Although, this route does not lead to settlement
- Applicants under this route are permitted to work, with some exceptions
Appendix Scale Up – takes effect from 22 August 2022
The Scale-up route will “allow those with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa”.
- Applicants under this route must have a sponsored job offer from an authorised UK Scale-up Sponsor
- For a company to register as a Scale-up Sponsor they must demonstrate they have annualised growth of at least 20% over the last 3 years (in turnover or staffing)
- The sponsored job offer must be skilled at graduate level and they must work for the Sponsor for at least 6 months (thereafter, they can be “unsponsored”)
- The minimum salary threshold will be £33,000 per year or £10.58 per hour
- Initial applicants will be granted for 2 years and extension applications for a further 3 years, and unlike other new routes, this route can lead to settlement
- It is not yet clear how a business will apply to be a Scale-Up Sponsor or how “fast track” this will be and this will need ironing out before August 2022.
If you would like any further information on this topic, get in touch with your usual Withers contact, or either of the authors of this article.