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The Rule is Change: New Immigration Rules published 15 March 2022

Posted: 16 Mar 2022

In this article, Immigration and Global Mobility Partner Samar Shams explains the main upcoming changes to Immigration Rules that will affect businesses and workers. For information on other changes to Immigration Rules, please contact Samar directly.

New Global Business Mobility routes

Changes effective from 9am on 11 April 2022, for applications made after that time and date.
The Global Business Mobility Rules bring a number of existing routes under one umbrella and introduce a new Secondment Worker visa route. For all Global Business Mobility routes only ‘high-skilled, i.e. Regulation Qualification Framework Level 6 or graduate-level, roles are eligible.

Global Business Mobility routes do not require the applicant to demonstrate English language ability.

Senior or Specialist Worker

Similar to the current Intra-Company Transfer route, this is to allow senior manager or specialist employees to undertake temporary work assignments in the UK. The being assigned to a UK business must have worked for at least 12 months for an employer overseas that is linked to the UK sponsor; those earning £73,900 are exempt from the 12-month service requirement.

The minimum salary for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa category is £42,400, up from £41,500 under the current Intra-Company Transfer route. Transitional arrangements apply to existing Intra-Company Transfer visa holders.

The following roles are eligible for sponsorship under the Intra-Company Transfer route but are being removed from the list of roles eligible for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa: artists; authors; actors; entertainers and presenters; dancers and choreographers; and product, clothing and related designers.

As with the current Intra-Company Transfer visa, the Senior or Specialist Worker visa applicant must be sponsored by a UK organisation and this route does not lead to settlement in the UK. High earners can stay in the UK on a Senior or Specialist Worker visa for up to 9 out of any 10 years. For those who are not high earners, the limit is 5 years out of any 6.

UK Expansion Worker

An overseas business will be able to send a team of employees to the UK to set up the business in the UK. This route replaces the Representative of an Overseas Business route, which closes to new applicants at 9am on 11 April 2022.

As with other sponsored worker routes, the sponsor will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, confirming details of the proposed role.

The UK Expansion Worker route is a sponsored worker route. As one of the requirements of the route is that the business sending a worker to the UK under this route has not started trading in the UK, it is not clear which entities will be eligible to sponsor UK Expansion Workers. The Home Office will possibly grant sponsor licences to new UK corporate entities that have not yet begun trading, or possibly to overseas organisations, though this seems unlikely. Sponsorship requirements fall largely under guidance, rather than under the Immigration Rules, so we will have to wait for details in guidance or other Home Office materials.

The applicant must be an employee with at least 12 months’ service at the overseas company, with exceptions for high earners and certain Japanese nationals.

Salary requirements apply, in line with those applicable to other sponsored workers.

Unlike Representative of Overseas Business visa holders, workers on UK Expansion Worker visas will not be eligible for settlement in the UK. UK Expansion Workers can stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years out of any 6 years. Permission under the Intra-Company and Global Business Mobility routes will count toward the 5-year limit.

Service Supplier

This is a route for contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider and self-employed independent professionals. The Service Supplier visa allows them to deliver a service in line with a UK trade agreement, e.g. the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The Service Supplier route replaces the existing routes for workers coming to the UK in line with UK trade agreements. As with the current routes, Service Suppliers must be sponsored by a UK organisation, including being assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship which lists the details of their role. In practice, this is usually the service provider or independent professional’s UK client, who will have to apply for an be granted a sponsor licence with the capacity to sponsor Service Suppliers.

Qualification requirements apply, depending on the role for which the Service Supplier is being sponsored. Employees must have worked for the overseas service provider and independent professionals must have been working in the same sector as the service they will provide to the UK sponsor, for at least 12 months prior to the date of application.

Service Suppliers can stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years out of any 6 years. Permission under the Intra-Company and Global Business Mobility routes will count toward the 5-year limit.

Secondment Worker

Secondment Worker is the only Global Business Mobility route that is a new visa route, rather than a modification of an existing one. This route is to allow an overseas employer to second a worker to the UK for a specific purpose, e.g. to transfer knowledge on a specific product, as part of a high-value contract or investment. 12 months’ service with the overseas employer is required.

Sponsors must register the relevant contract with the Home Office and specify, when assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship to a Secondment Worker, the contract to which the secondment relates. Details of eligible contracts will likely be published in guidance within the next few weeks.

The Secondment Worker route may be useful where a worker is not eligible for other Global Business Mobility routes, for example because there is not a sufficient link to the overseas company to support sponsorship under the Senior or Specialist Worker route.

Graduate Trainee

The Global Business Mobility Graduate Trainee route is similar to the current Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa. Please contact Samar Shams, Immigration and Global Mobility Partner, if you would like details on this route.

Skilled Worker

Changes effective from 9am on 11 April 2022, for applications made after that time and date.
Skilled Worker minimum salary requirements for certain health and education requirements are updated in line with national pay scales. Affected roles include the following: Medical practitioners; dental practitioners; medical and dental technicians; nursing assistants; nurses; and dental nurses.

Other Rules changes reflect the Home Office’s plan to revamp the Sponsor Management System and allow for beta testing of the new system, e.g. Certificates of Sponsorship will be called Confirmations of Sponsorship and the Rules changes accommodate the new term.

Changes to weekly hours?

Changes effective from 9am on 11 April 2022, for applications made after that time and date.
The draft Rules for the revised Appendix Skilled Occupation indicate that going rates relating to the occupations eligible for sponsorship under the Global Business Mobility and Skilled Worker routes are based on a 37.5-hour week, rather than the current basis of a 39-hour week.

It is not clear if this is an error, as other parts of the new Rules indicate that Global Business Mobility visa salary requirements are based on a 39-hour week. If the new weekly hours basis is 37.5 hours, salaries for working patterns other than 37.5 hours per week must be prorated.

Please revisit this article for updates on changes to the potential change to the weekly hours basis for salaries under the Global Business Mobility and Skilled Worker routes.

New Appendix High Potential Individual

Changes effective from 9am on 30 May 2022.
The new Appendix High Potential Individual route is branded as an ‘elite points-based route’. The High Potential Individual visa will allow graduates to work in the UK unsponsored. They must have a degree from a non-UK university listed on a Global Universities List that the Home Office will publish; that list will include universities ranked as being within the top 50 universities on at least two of the following ranking systems: the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The degree must have been awarded within the 5 years prior to the date of application.

An applicant whose degree is equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree will be eligible for a 2-year visa. An applicant whose qualification is equivalent to a UK PhD will be eligible for a three-year visa.

Applicants must demonstrate English language ability and the ability to maintain themselves in the UK financially.

New Scale-up route

Changes effective 22 August 2022.
The Rules changes introduce a new sponsored worker route, the Scale-up Worker visa.

Applicants must have a sponsored job offer from a UK scale-up company that has applied for and been granted a sponsor licence with capacity to assign Certificates of Sponsorship under the Scale-up route. To be eligible for a Scale-up sponsor licence, a company must demonstrate the following:

  • Annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3-year period in terms of turnover or staffing; and
  • A minimum of 10 employees at the start of this 3-year period.

To be eligible for sponsorship under the Scale-Up route, a role must be ‘high-skilled’, i.e. at Regulation Qualifications Framework level 6, which is equivalent to graduate level, or above). The minimum required salary will be the higher of £33,000, or the going rate for the Standard Occupational Classification code that the role falls under based on a 37.5-hour week, or £10.58 per hour.

When assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship, the scale-up company must confirm that the applicant is expected to work for them for at least the first 6 months of their permission in the UK.

Applicants must demonstrate English language ability and the ability to maintain themselves in the UK financially.

After 6 months, the worker no longer needs to be sponsored. They can extend their initial permission of 2 years for a further three years if they have had a guaranteed basic salary in the UK of at least £33,000 per year during at least 50% of their permission as a Scale-up Worker.

Scale-up Workers may be eligible for settlement in the UK after 5 years if they have earned at least £33,000 during at least 24 months in the 3 years immediately before the date of application to settle. Time spent as a Skilled Worker or other specified routes may be counted towards the requisite 5 years.

Appendix Student

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
Student visa holders applying to the Graduate visa route can fill a full-time, permanent vacancy after completing their course and submitting their Graduate visa application.

UK work placements are permitted to students enrolled at a higher education institution overseas and undertaking a study abroad programme in the UK, in addition to those at a UK higher education provider with a track record of compliance or at an overseas higher education institution in the UK. The work placement must not be longer than half of the total length of the course of study, as is currently the case.

Global Talent – Tech Nation

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
Changes to endorsement criteria and evidential requirements for the Global Talent – Tech Nation route include:

  • Exceptional promise applicants must be at an early stage in their career; and
  • Evidence should cover achievements in the 5 years immediately preceding the date of application.

Innovator

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
Unsuccessful applicants for settlement under the Innovator route may be granted temporary permission to remain under the route, subject to payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Hong Kong BN(O) Route

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
Unsuccessful applicants for settlement under the Hong Kong BN(O) route may be granted temporary permission to remain under the route, subject to payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Appendix Graduate

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
A policy allowing Student visa holders to be eligible for the Graduate visa route, despite remote learning between 21 June 2021 and 6 April 2022, is incorporated into the Immigration Rules.

Seasonal Worker Route

Changes effective 6 April 2022 for applications made on or after that date.
The Seasonal Worker Route is expanded to include ornamental horticulture, e.g. growing bulbs and cut flowers; pot plants; hardy ornamental nursery stock; trees and forest nurseries. The new Rules introduce a minimum salary requirement of £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour.

Note that this article does not constitute advice. Please get in touch with the author of this article if you would like advice.


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