Changes to the UK Immigration Rules
The intra company transfer visa and sole representative visa routes close to new applicants on the 11 April 2022 with the introduction of the global business mobility visa.
On the 15 March 2022, the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes to the immigration rules. The document, that runs to over two hundred pages, sets out planned rule changes and, in particular, introduced the new global business mobility route, scale-up route and high potential individual route. The scale-up and high potential individual routes are said to be intended to provide UK businesses access to a more flexible pool of highly skilled workers.
In this article, our immigration solicitors take a look at the major changes being introduced by the Statement of Changes.
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The intra company transfer visa and the sole representative visa closes to new applicants on the 11 April 2022 - from that date applicants can apply for the global business mobility visas, including the senior or specialist worker visa and UK expansion worker visa.
Key points for UK employers
The key points for UK employers are:
- UK businesses will still need sponsor licences to sponsor workers
- Rebranding of visas so there are similar (but different) intra company transfer visa and sole representative routes
- Any pending sole representative and intra company transfer visa applications need to be submitted by the 11 April 2022
- There are no changes to the skilled worker visa
The global business mobility visa route
The new global business mobility visa is in part a re-branding exercise of existing work and business visa routes but with the addition of a new visa routes for workers being seconded to work in the UK.
The government says it is more than an exercise in re-naming existing routes as immigration rules are simplified but the key point is that UK business owners will still require a Home Office issued sponsor licence to sponsor most overseas workers.
The five elements of the global business mobility visa route are:
- Senior or specialist worker visa route – this replaces the intra company transfer visa and is designed for senior managers or specialist employees who are being transferred to a UK branch of an overseas company. The minimum salary threshold is £42,400 for this route or one hundred percent of the going rate for the job, whichever is higher. The salary is higher than the minimum salary threshold of £41,500 for the intra company transfer visa. Applicants do not need to meet the English language requirement. However, senior or specialist worker applicants need to be currently working for an overseas business or organisation that is transferring their employment on a temporary basis to a UK based company that is linked by common ownership or control, or by a joint venture on which they are sponsored to work. The visa applicant must have worked outside the UK for the linked business for a cumulative period of at least twelve months, unless the worker is earning at least £73,900 per year or more. The senior or specialist worker route does not lead to settlement in the UK.
- Graduate trainee visa route – this replaces the graduate trainee intra company transfer visa and is intended for those on graduate trainee schemes who will spend part of their graduate training in the UK.
- UK expansion worker – this somewhat nebulous title is the route that replaces the sole representative visa and is designed for senior employees of overseas businesses who are tasked with setting up a new branch or subsidiary company in the UK of the overseas parent company.
- Service supplier route – this route replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional route under the current temporary worker international agreement route. It is designed for contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider or for self-employed independent professionals who work and are based overseas but who need to carry out an assignment in the UK and the assignment covers services covered by one of the international trade commitments of the UK.
- Secondment worker – this is the new route and is intended for use by workers being seconded to the UK by an overseas based employer company as part of a high value contract or investment being undertaken by the employer.
The high potential individual route
The high potential individual visa is a new route and the title sounds as grand as the global talent visa. The government says the high potential individual visa is designed to cater for the ‘brightest and best’ and so is an elite points-based route intended to maintain the status of the UK as a ‘leading international hub for emerging technologies’.
Qualifications are the key to UK entry clearance on the high potential individual visa as applicants must have either a bachelor or postgraduate degree qualification from one of the top global universities outside the UK. The Home Office publishes a Global Universities List of top ranked universities.
The high potential individual visa gives entry clearance for two years if an applicant has a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelor or Master’s level degree . If a high potential individual visa applicant has a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD, they will be able to secure a three-year entry clearance.
The scale-up visa
The scale-up visa is a new route for a fast-track visa for overseas workers with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK scale-up business. The eligibility criteria include:
- A sponsored job from an authorised UK scale-up company and
- A job with a skill level graduate level (RQF 6 and equivalent) – this is higher than the skill level for the skilled worker visa as that is set at RQF 3 and equivalent and
- A minimum salary threshold of £33,000 gross per year or the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher.
The scale-up visa lasts for two years but, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, an applicant can apply to extend the visa for up to three years and they can then go on to apply to settle in the UK.
Business immigration solicitors say that the immigration rules define what is meant by a ‘scale-up business’ as unless the business falls within this category an applicant will not be able to apply for the scale-up visa.
The global talent visa
The Statement of Changes says that the global talent visa is to be tweaked to change the endorsement criteria and the visa evidential requirements. A requirement has been added to say that exceptional promise applicants must be at an early stage in their career and that evidence for exceptional talent or promise should cover an applicant’s achievements in the five years directly prior to their application.
In addition, the list of prizes in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes is expanded. It remains the case that a prize holder does not require endorsement from an endorsing body.
Seasonal worker visa changes
The seasonal worker route is expanded to include work in ornamental horticulture and this encompasses forest nursery workers and others. However, haulage driving work involving transportation of food goods and poultry production work and butchery work are deleted.
For the seasonal worker there is a new minimum hourly pay of at least £10.10 per hour, so the hourly rate matches that of the skilled worker visa route.
Sponsoring employers will need expert immigration help with the new global business mobility visa and overseas businesses will need assistance with the new visa requirements replacing the sole representative visa. Call us on 0203 959 9123.
UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers