Refugees and UK Asylum Seekers – The Displaced Talent Visa to Work in the UK
Amidst the chaos and unfolding tragedy in Afghanistan, and the consequent asylum crisis, the UK government is promoting the new displaced talent visa for highly skilled refugees and asylum seekers to work in the UK. In this article our asylum and immigration solicitors take a look at the new displaced talent visa.
UK Online and London Based Asylum and Immigration Solicitors
The displaced talent visa
First off, the displaced talent visa is simply a pilot scheme at present. The UK government plans to pilot the displaced talent visa scheme to around fifty to one hundred applicants over a twelve month to two-year period.
In addition, the displaced talent visa pilot won't help refugees fleeing from Afghanistan now or those who have made their way to France or who have even made it to the UK. That is because the pilot scheme is aimed at refugees who have fled conflict and violence in Gaza, Iraq, and Syria and who are living in camps in Lebanon and Jordan.
Immigration solicitors say that whilst the pilot may appear to be of little practical use in helping the many thousands of asylum seekers who are currently seeking asylum in the UK and who want to work in the UK, in the long term the scheme may be extended to help a wider range of asylum seekers claim asylum in the UK.
Prioritising the skilled asylum seeker
The displaced talent visa prioritises the skilled asylum seeker as the displaced talent visa isn’t open to you if you are an unskilled asylum seeker. In many ways the displaced talent visa is a bit like the UK points-based immigration system skilled worker visa. To qualify for the skilled worker visa, a skilled migrant worker has to have the skills or experience to secure a job that falls within the required work skill level through inclusion on the government list of UK jobs allocated a standard occupation code. If the UK job doesn’t have a standard occupation code, a skilled migrant worker can't apply for sponsored employment under a skilled worker visa. That is the case even if there are UK job shortages because of the UK skills gap.
You may question why there is a need for a displaced talent visa if an asylum seeker, with the necessary skills, can apply for a skilled worker visa to be able to work in the UK. Under a skilled worker visa, an applicant can bring their family with them under dependant visas. In addition, the main visa applicant and their family can apply to settle in the UK once they meet the residence requirement for indefinite leave to remain. Once indefinite leave to remain has been secured the skilled worker visa holder and their family members can then decide whether to go on to apply for British citizenship.
The UK government has identified the need for the displaced talent visa pilot scheme because whilst a number of refugees have the skills to apply for a skilled worker visa, they are unable to do so because of where they find themselves; in a camp without access to the equipment needed to make an online application and without all the supporting evidence to show that they have the required skills to do the job.
The displaced talent visa is intended to enable those asylum seekers, who would have been eligible for the skilled worker visa if their circumstances had been different, to secure a similar work visa to help them, and their dependant family members, make a new life for themselves and their family in the UK.
How does the displaced talent visa work?
The displaced talent mobility pilot scheme will work with Talent Beyond Boundaries, an organisation that assists refugees and asylum seekers to achieve self-sufficiency. The pilot will focus on refugees from Iraq, Syria and Gaza.
One of the intentions of the displaced talent visa pilot is to see whether a permanent displaced talent visa scheme needs to be set up or whether the eligibility criteria for the skilled worker visa needs to be tweaked for asylum seekers, rather than create a separate work visa exclusively for asylum seekers.
The intention is that the displaced talent visa pilot will operate in a very similar way to the current skilled worker visa. That means that:
- The asylum seeker will need a job offer from a UK employer.
- The UK employer will need a sponsor licence.
- The job must be a job that qualifies for a work visa. In other words, the job must be on the shortage occupation list or have been allocated a standard occupation code by the Home Office.
- The asylum seeker must speak English.
- The asylum seeker must meet the skill level to do the job.
- The UK employer must pay the asylum seeker the required minimum salary.
The displaced talent visa could last up to five years and once the five-year residence requirement has been met the main visa applicant and their dependant family could then apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The displaced talent visa will help asylum seekers by helping with the application process and making some document concessions. In addition, applicants under the pilot scheme will receive case management support and priority visa processing.
If UK employers are interested in sponsoring asylum seekers on the displaced talent visa pilot scheme, they need to register online through the Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) website. TBB can then match the job to their asylum seeker job candidates with the right skills and experience to do the work. The UK employer then carries out their recruitment process which can include interviewing a full range of workers, from British citizens, to those with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or those seeking skilled worker visas. It is up to the UK employer to choose the best person for the job with TBB helping by providing a remote recruitment service, including identifying potential asylum seeker job applicants and assisting in the setting up of remote job interviews. The asylum seeker doesn’t take priority over the other job candidates but the displaced talent visa pilot scheme is meant to create more of a level playing field.
If the asylum seeker job applicant is successful in the recruitment process, then TBB will work with both the asylum seeker and UK employer to help the asylum seeker secure their displaced talent visa. TBB then work with the successful job applicant and UK employer to help ease the asylum seeker into life and work in the UK with help offered for up to a twelve-month period.
The pilot scheme is not so much about changing the rules of the UK’s immigration system, but helping people who already qualify under the existing work visa rules. Many refugees have skills but lack opportunities because they have fled their homes and sometimes lost important travel and work-related documents during their travels.
Is the displaced talent visa the way forward to help asylum seekers?
Many asylum and immigration solicitors are in two minds about the displaced talent visa pilot scheme. Whilst they recognise the importance of trying to create a level playing field for all overseas skilled worker visa type job candidates, whether they are based in the EU, a non-EEA country, or are an asylum seeker, they have some misgivings about focussing help on those asylum seekers with skills. Some believe that countries such as the UK should focus their efforts on helping the least privileged asylum seekers who can quickly skill up once they reach the UK, but the political reality is such that any steps to level up asylum seekers is to be welcomed.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors