On 10 September 2021, the Home Office published few changes to be made to the current UK Immigration Rules. Most of these took place in October 2021, although some of the changes will be taking place in January 2022.
The UK-India trade deal: the immigration benefits
The UK and India signed new trade and investment deals that aim to pave the way for a future UK-India free trade agreement. Among the details and promises of deals, investments and job creation, there was a separate and specific reference to Immigration.
The migration and mobility partnership agreement will allow young Indians to live and work in Britain for up to two years without needing a job offer in a significant post-Brexit liberalisation of the immigration system. Easier access to UK visas for Indian citizens is likely to be one of the country’s major demands in future trade talks.
The pact will provide enhanced employment opportunities for 3,000 young Indian professionals annually, in return for India agreeing to take back any of its citizens who are living illegally in the UK.
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa has been updated to add India and Iceland. The visa will be open to up to 3,000 Indian graduates aged 18-30 to come to the UK each year and seek work, staying for up to 24 months. Young Britons will be able to do the same in India.
By expanding the Youth Mobility visa scheme, it provides great opportunity to hire workers and have a good assessment of skillset, compatibility etc. before committing to the longer-term Sponsorship visas. In addition, while the visa may be for a maximum period of 24 months, holders of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa are allowed to change visa status from inside the UK to move onto other routes to permanent residency.
For information, the countries participating in the Youth Mobility Visa Programme and the allocations permitted are as follows:
- Australia: 30,000 places
- New Zealand: 13,000 places
- Canada: 6,000 places
- Japan:1,500 places
- Monaco: 1,000 places
- Taiwan: 1,000 places
- Hong Kong: 1,000 places
- San Marino: 1,000 places
- Iceland: 1,000 places
- India: 3,000 places
While the precise application process may vary depending on country of nationality, it is a visa route that should be used where possible because of the relative simplicity and the benefit to employers looking to hire in an increasingly competitive market.
Home Office rule changes to the shortage occupation list
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has seen an increase in the need for healthcare professionals in the UK.
The shortage occupation list currently has an extensive list of healthcare roles that migrant workers can apply to enter the UK under. However, the Home Office is changing the Immigration Rules to allow for more healthcare roles to be available and more opportunity for migrant healthcare workers to come to the UK.
Pharmacists, laboratory technicians, senior care workers and nursing assistants are among roles that have been added to the list. Health services and public health managers and directors; residential, day and domiciliary care managers; and health professionals not elsewhere classified, such as audiologists and dental hygiene therapists, have also been added, as have modern foreign language teachers.
The new roles have opened up the talent pool from all over the world but also the employee pool for employers.
This also builds upon the new points-based immigration system that the government has introduced. Individuals applying to come to the UK under a skilled worker visa must obtain ’70’ points to be considered eligible. However, a role on the shortage occupation list is worth 20 points, which means that with the required level of English, employees can easily meet the 70 points. This opening means that the pool of potential employees for employers has become much wider. Potential employers can now look at a larger pool of talented individuals to fill their vacancies. This will also give employers the potential to expand their sectors and the talent that they hire
New Skilled Worker application system will use the ID checking app for non-EU nationals
Until recently, submission of a Skilled Worker visa application via the UK immigration account was made available to those who hold EU citizenship only. Fortunately, due to the plan for the immigration system to become more digital, this has now been expanded to those of all nationalities who are making an in country Skilled Worker application.
UKVI account submission process
The creation of a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account is required first, and the applicant will be prompted to enter their current biometric residence permit (BRP) card details as well as other personal identification details in the process. The applicant will then have to download the UK Immigration: ID Check app. The applicant’s biometrics will be stored and provided on the app, which eliminates the need to attend an in-person appointment.
Once the account has been set up, the application will need to be drafted. Normal procedures for a certificate of sponsorships and other legal documentation requirements remain the same. Once the application is prepared, it can be submitted as per usual procedure. The applicant will then have to upload evidence onto their account, linking it to their application, as per the Immigration Rules.
The government has also announced plans to “revitalise” the Innovator route. The following changes have been set out in the UK Innovation Strategy:
- the business eligibility criteria will be simplified so that applicants are required to demonstrate that their business venture has a high potential to grow and add value to the UK and is innovative.
- a lighter touch endorsement process will be introduced for applicants whose business ideas are particularly advanced to match the best-in-class
- international offers, with all applicants accepted on the Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur Programme being automatically eligible.
- there will no longer be a requirement to have at least £50,000 in investment funds where the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant has sufficient funds to grow their business. the restriction on doing work outside of the applicant’s primary business will be removed.
Scale – Up Visa:
On October 27, 2021 Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, confirmed as part of the U.K. autumn 2021 Budget that a new Scale-Up visa route will launch in the United Kingdom in the spring of 2022.
The UK Government is bringing in a raft of measures as part of its plan to make the UK a global innovation hub by 2035 and they can’t come soon enough.
The new Scale Up visa system aims to encourage innovation by streamlining the process for ‘Scale Up’ businesses to bring those who are “very highly skilled” and “academically elite” to the UK.
The new Scale-up visa is aimed at providing a fast-track visa service to people who have a highly skilled job offer from a “Scale-up” company in the UK.
A Scale-up company is one that has experienced a 20%+ annual growth rate in turnover or employee numbers over the past three years. Companies must’ve employed at least 10 people at the beginning of the three-year period.
Requirements to get scale up visa:
- Applicants will need to have a high-skilled job offer from an eligible business (see below for details of what an eligible business might look like).
- Scaleups will be able to apply through a fast-track verification process to use the route. There is a suggestion scale-ups must though meet a sponsor licence requirement, presumably with compliance duties.
- The salary for the UK role will need to be at least £33,000.
- Applicants will need to meet the English language requirement.
- The route will allow successful applicants to work, switch jobs or employers. There is a suggestion that Scale-up visa holders will have to work for the sponsoring scale-up for at least 6 months and can then work outside the sponsored role.
- Individuals will be able to extend their visa and apply for settlement, subject to meeting specific requirements. It is possible the Scale-up visa will provide a quicker route to settlement than a Skilled Worker visa, say after 3 years.
Individuals who obtain a Scale-Up visa will be able to extend their visa and settle in the UK, subject to meeting specific requirements, details of which will be released in 2022.
A summary of some of the changes are set out below:
- Except in prescribed cases, EEA nationals will no longer be allowed to use their valid national identity card for entry to the UK – they will need to use a valid passport
- Launch of the new “International Sportsperson” route, which replaces existing routes for professional sportspeople, and requires endorsement, sponsorship, meeting financial requirements and in some instances, meeting the English language requirement
- The Global Talent route for talented and promising individuals in certain fields, will see some changes for the endorsement element, and the “Prestigious Prizes” element which bypasses the endorsement requirement, is expanding the list of qualifying prizes
- The “working holiday visa” or Youth Mobility Scheme visa category is being expanded in January 2022 to allow citizens of India and Iceland between the ages of 18 to 30 to apply to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years, without sponsorship, with additional requirements for Indian citizens including holding an undergraduate degree or having a minimum of 3 years’ work experience in a role equivalent to the approved list of jobs
- Changes are being made to existing rules relating to Afghan citizens under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, as well as the ex-gratia scheme. The Home Office has also published the Afghanistan resettlement and immigration policy statement, as well as promotional material called Next steps in the UK: immigration information for people evacuated from Afghanistan, although these do not form part of the Immigration Rules.
OTHER ITEMS TO NOTE
Other immigration and related news/cases you might want to take a note of include:
- The current “traffic light” system for travellers to the UK changed at 4am on Monday 4 October 2021
- The temporary changes to right to work checks that were due to end on 31 August 2021, have now been deferred to 5 April 2022 – see here for more information
- The Confederation of British Industry calls on the Immigration Rules to be relaxed to ease labour shortages, for example in hospitality, food processing, and logistics
- The government has announced temporary visas for up to 5,000 HGV drivers and up to 5,500 temporary visas for poultry workers
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