New UK visa routes

The government has issued a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules to implement its ‘Plan for Growth’ measures. We see the introduction of the new Global Business Mobility, High Potential Individual and Scale up visa routes. Note the catchy names.  We say farewell to the Sole Representative visa route on 11 April 2022 and hail to the UK Expansion Worker visa. The Statement also makes changes to a number of routes eg Global Talent, Seasonal Worker and the EU Settlement Scheme which are not covered in this note.

Global Business Mobility visa

There are five visa routes created. None of these routes lead to settlement. They come into force at 9am on 11 April 2022
• Senior or Specialist Worker. Senior executives and specialists undertaking temporary assignments at a UK branch or subsidiary of the business they work for. This will replace the Intra-Company Transfer route
• Graduate Trainee. Graduate trainees undertaking a placement in the UK as part of a structured training programme This will replace the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route
• UK Expansion Worker. This will replace the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa route. Teams of workers (so more than just one sole person) can be sent to establish a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business.  This route can only be used when the business has not yet begun trading in the UK. The visa applicants must have worked for the group for at least 12 months. The overseas group must have a valid certificate of sponsorship for the job they are planning to do. We presume this means a UK company must be set up which will need to obtain PAYE registration. We presume it will not require a UK bank account to be in place (which is a plus since UK bank accounts are so difficult to open if the UK company is foreign owned). There appears to be a minimum annual salary requirement of £42,500.  The old sole rep visa route will remain open for media representatives, and also for sole representatives applying for extension and/or settlement.
• Service Supplier. Service suppliers undertaking work covered by one of the UK’s commitments on trade in services (replacing the service supplier provisions in the Temporary Work International Agreement route This will replace contractual service providers and independent professional persons in the Temporary Worker – International Agreement route
• Secondment Worker. This is a new route for ‘workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas in in connection with high value contracts for goods or investment.

The High Potential Individual visa

The route comes into force at 9am on 30 May 2022. It does not lead to settlement in the UK. The route permits applicants with an eligible qualification (minimum bachelor’s level) from a non-UK higher education intuition listed in the ‘Home Office’s Global Universities List’ to undertake full-time employment or self-employment in the UK, at any skill level, for:
• three years if they have been awarded a PhD or other eligible doctoral level qualification, or
• two years, for all other eligible degree qualifications
The applicant must have been awarded the qualification in the last five years. They must also meet the English language and financial requirements.

The High Potential Individual route is intended to make it as simple as possible for internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK. It will be open to those graduating from top global non-UK universities, who hold a recently awarded degree, equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. It will enable those who have already demonstrated their potential through academic achievement to come to the UK without a prior job offer. This will be limited to graduates from specified universities and the Home Office will update the list of eligible universities annually. Those granted will be given a 2-year work visa (3-year for those with a PhD) and will be permitted to move into other long-term employment routes, subject to meeting the eligibility requirements.

The Scale up visa

This permits eligible applicants to qualify for a ‘fast-track visa’ if they have a sponsored job offer from an authorised eligible UK scale-up company. This visa route comes into force on 22 August 2022.
To register for this route, a company will need to demonstrate that they have an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3-year period in terms of turnover or staffing. Companies will also need to have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this 3-year period.
The job must be at a skill level of RQF level six, with an annual salary of £33,000 or the going rate, whichever is higher. Initial permission will be granted for a two-year period. Noteworthy is the fact this visa route only requires sponsorship for the initial six months period (during which time the applicant cannot work with anyone but the sponsoring employer). Extensions are permitted, and the applicant can apply for settlement after five years in the route.

Tom Redfern