Changes made to the Immigration Rules
Just when you thought it was safe to spiral-bind your copy of the Immigration Rules, be prepared to rip out large sections as the government has released the latest statement of changes to the Immigration Rules. The changes, some of which are quite significant, are due to take effect from 6 April 2022, and include new immigration routes and some rebranding of existing ones. Below we set out the main ones to know about.
1. The new Global Business Mobility category (GBM) aims to simplify the current UK immigration incentives to business and will introduce the following routes:
- senior or specialist worker route (replacing the Intra-Company Transfer route): this is for senior employees and specialists who are working on temporary projects at a UK branch or a subsidiary of the business they are employed at. The minimum salary threshold is now £42,400;
- graduate trainees (replacing the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route): for graduates undertaking a placement within the UK as part of a training programme;
- UK expansion worker route (replacing Representative of an Overseas Business route): for senior employees or specialists seeking to expand their business within the UK. One important difference in relation to the Representative of an Overseas Business route is that the new category appears to require sponsorship by an entity registered as a sponsor with the Home Office, a development which could add a layer of bureaucracy;
- service suppliers (replacing the service supplier provisions in the Temporary Work International Agreement route); and
- secondment worker: a completely new addition for employees who are seconded to the UK to pursue an investment or a high-value contract.
According to the government press release that accompanied the Statement of Changes, the introduction of the GBM will give workers the opportunity to work on assignments in relation to the expansion of their businesses which should lead to inward investment, and will allow for collaboration between the UK and international businesses which develops trade across the borders.
2. Two entirely new immigration routes have also been introduced which the government hopes will allow UK businesses to approach a larger and more accessibly pool of highly skilled workers:
- Scale-up Route: this only requires sponsorship for the initial six months of this route and allows for extensions for stay and settlement within the UK. This route is aimed at those who are highly skilled and sought-after within their respective fields. The only requirement is that the individual must demonstrate that they are employed in a graduate level occupation; and
- High Potential Individual Route: this route allows for individuals who demonstrate high potential based on academic merit to come to the UK without a job offer. The individual must graduate from a top global non-UK university with an equivalent to a UK Bachelors or postgraduate degree and will be granted a two-year work visa (or three years for those with a PhD).
3. The government have also expanded the list of prizes to the Global Talent visa ensuring that those who are at top of their profession experience ‘a smooth application process’.
There are a number of changes to other categories as well as a range of technical legal changes affecting applications. The idea, according to the press release, is to simplify the Immigration Rules and encourage talent and investment to come to the UK. However, simplification has often been a stated aim of changes to the Immigration Rules and something which, it must be said, has so far eluded policy makers. It remains to be seen whether the changes, many of which are largely cosmetic, will indeed make coming to the UK more straightforward for those with the talent and funds needed here.