Budget 2021 – Chancellor announces new immigration routes and reforms for high-skilled individuals
On 3 March 2021 the UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a string of reforms to the current UK immigration system, as part of his unveiling of the 2021 budget.
Those reforms include plans for the introduction of a new ‘Global Business Mobility Visa’ and ‘Elite Points-Based Visa’. Additional reforms include the following:
- tweaking the Global Talent Visa to widen the potential pool of applicants;
- reforms to make the Innovator Route easier to navigate;
- the intention to support small firms that are new to the visa system; and
- improving the visa regime for global entrepreneurs.
The Chancellor stated that the key reasoning behind these changes is primarily ‘to help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent’, one of the government’s often-voiced intentions. As is always the case, the precise detail is what will matter and we won’t know that until the Chancellor’s intentions are committed to writing in the form of changes to the Immigration Rules. However, below we highlight the main points of interest.
Elite Points-Based Visa
The government has committed to the introduction of a new ‘Elite’ points-based visa by March 2022. This will include a ‘scale-up’ stream, enabling highly-skilled migrants with a job offer from a recognised high-growth business to qualify for a fast-track visa, without requiring sponsorship or any other third-party endorsement. The Chancellor didn’t say what would constitute a UK ‘scale-up’, but it is likely that the purpose of this new route is to enable Fintech companies to source talent from overseas.
Global Business Mobility Visa
This looks like a re-badging of the Overseas Representative visa for overseas businesses that wish to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK. Until we see further details, it is unclear whether the criteria for a Global Business Mobility visa will be any more relaxed than the current rules for representatives of overseas companies.
Global Talent Visa
Holders of international prizes, and winners of scholarships and programmes will automatically qualify for the early promise subcategory.
The government will consider making the Innovator visa more flexible. The much-heralded replacement to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, Innovator visas have either been incredibly tricky to qualify for, or commercially unviable for many prospective entrepreneurs, so making the Innovator route easier to navigate would be a positive development.
Sponsor Management System
Employers (and lawyers!), will welcome plans to modernise the immigration sponsor management system, which is currently cumbersome and not particularly user friendly.
For further information please contact our immigration team.