New High Potential Individual Route

New High Potential Individual Route

The Home Office’s new “High Potential Individual” visa route is expected to launch on 30th May 2022. The High Potential Individual visa is specifically intended for those who have graduated from a top overseas university and wish to work or look for work in the UK. Here we will take a closer look at who can apply for the High Potential Individual visa, the eligibility criteria, and what High Potential Individual visa holders can and cannot do.

Who can apply for a High Potential Individual visa?

The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is geared toward foreign nationals who, within five years of applying, gained an overseas degree-level academic qualification. The “statement of changes in immigration rules” published by the Home Office on 15th March 2022 includes the details of the visa and states,

“This route is for recent graduates of top global universities, who want to work or look for work in the UK, following the successful completion of an eligible course of study equivalent to UK bachelor’s degree level or above. The study must have been with an institution listed on the Global Universities List. The High Potential Individual route is an unsponsored route”.

This clarifies that applicants do not require a job offer in order to submit an application for a High Potential Individual visa, but they must have a suitable qualification from a top-level education establishment on the Global Universities List.

What are the eligibility criteria for the High Potential Individual visa?

Applicants for a High Potential Individual visa must:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification from an institution that appears on the Global Universities List in the last 5 years
  • Meet the English language requirements
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • Not previously have been granted permission under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Graduate or as a High Potential Individual

As this route is points-based, applicants must score at least 70 points; this is met as follows:

  • Global Universities List degree requirement: 50 points
  • English Language requirement at level B1: 10 points
  • Financial requirement: 10 points
What is the Global Universities List?

The Global Universities list is published on the Home Office’s website and contains all non-UK educational institutions ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems:

  • Times Higher Education World University Rankings; and
  • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; and
  • The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The list is updated each year based on the revised rankings in each system.

What is the qualification requirement for the High Potential Individual visa?

Applicants for the High Potential Individual visa must have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification no more thatmn five years before the date of their application. The course must be confirmed by Ecctis as meeting or exceeding the academic standards of a UK bachelors or UK postgraduate degree. The rules also state, “The date the applicant was awarded the degree will be the date as confirmed by Ecctis”.

What is the English language requirement for the High Potential Individual visa?

High Potential Individual visa applicants must meet the English language requirements. This is CEFR Level B1 or above in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Depending on their country of origin, some applicants may be exempt from the English language requirement.

What is the financial requirement for the High Potential Individual visa?

High Potential Individual visa applicants who have been in the UK for less than 12 months at the date of application must show they have at least £1,270 in available funds to support themselves. This money must have been held by the applicant for at least 28-day before the date of application. If the applicant is applying for permission to stay and has been in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application, there is no need to meet the financial requirement.

How long can I stay in the UK on a High Potential Individual visa?

If your application is successful, the amount of time you can stay in the UK will depend on the level of your qualification. Those with a PhD or other doctoral-level qualification will be able to stay for up to three years. Those with any other level of degree will be able to stay for up to two years.

What are the conditions of a High Potential Individual visa?

High Potential Individual visa holders will be permitted to live, study, work and seek work for the duration of their stay. “Work” includes self-employment and voluntary work, but work as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach) is not permitted. Visa holders are not eligible for public funds (e.g. benefits).

Importantly, High Potential visa holders cannot apply for settlement (ILR) after a qualifying period. Instead, once in the UK, they will need to acquire a different visa type that provides a direct route to settlement, such as a Skilled Worker or family visa.

Final words

The new High Potential Individual visa goes live on the Home Office website at 9am on 30th May 2022. If you need any further details on the new scheme, to check if you are eligible, or for assistance with your application, it is advisable to speak to an immigration Solicitor as early as possible.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

What Immigration Rule Changes Can We Expect In Spring 2022?

What Immigration Rule Changes Can We Expect In Spring 2022?

With the promise of warmer weather on the way, we are also expecting a number of key changes to the immigration rules in Spring 2022 that UK employers and international workers should be aware of. Here we will take a closer look at some of these changes to immigration policy, including digital right to work checks and two new schemes.

Digital right to work checks

In December 2021, the government announced its intention to allow employers the ability to use digital identity service providers to carry out identity checks on their behalf. The government has now published updated guidance entitled, “Employer right to work checks supporting guidance”, which outlines a new process for right to work checks for biometric cardholders, which comes into force on 6th April 2022. This confirms that from this date, BRC, BRP and FWP holders will have to evidence their right to work using the Home Office’s online service. It also confirms that employers will no longer be permitted to accept physical BRC, BRP or FWP cards when carrying out right to work checks. In line with this new policy, BRCs, BRPs, and FWPs are being removed from the list of acceptable documents for manual right to work checks. Where an employer ignores this guidance and uses one of these cards as a form of verification when carrying out a right to work check, they will no longer have a valid excuse against a civil penalty if an individual does not have the right to work in the UK. Employers will not be required to carry out retrospective checks, however, if physical biometric cards were used to check a person’s right to work before 6th April 2022.

In addition, from 6th April 2022, employers will be able to use a new online system called “Identity Document Validation Technology” (IDVT) to check the right to work of British and Irish nationals with a valid passport. Checks are carried out by approved Identity Service Providers (IDSP) and can be used for right to work and pre-employment DBS checks. It will remain the employer’s responsibility to check that the IDSP used is suitably certified and that the digital check is carried out in accordance with the requirements. As of the date of writing, the government website states, “there are currently no IDSPs certified. Employers, landlords, and other relevant organisations interested in procuring a certified IDSP should engage directly with those IDSPs once a list is available”. Once the scheme is up and running with IDSPs, it is expected that employers will pay a fee for each check carried out.

New Global Business Mobility Category

In August 2021, the government announced, “The new Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence here or transfer staff to the UK will be launched in Spring 2022 under the existing sponsorship system”. The new category is expected to replace several existing visas and place them under a single category, including the following:

  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa
  • Intra-Company (Graduate Trainee) visa
  • Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, and
  • Temporary Work (International Agreement) visa

The aim of this new route (and hence the common theme between the visas being merged together) is the establishment and expansion of overseas businesses in the UK. The new category has five individual routes:

  1. Global Business Mobility – Secondment Worker: this is a new route allowing workers to be being seconded to the UK “as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer”.
  2. Global Business Mobility – Senior or Specialist Worker: this is intended for senior managers or specialist employees assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas and replaces the ICT visa
  3. Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier: replaces the international agreement route and is for “contractual service suppliers” and “self-employed independent professionals” based outside of the UK who will be carrying out an assignment in the UK through an international trade commitment.
  4. Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee: replaces the ICT graduate route and is intended for “workers on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position and who are required to do a work placement in the UK”.
  5. Appendix Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker: replaces the sole representative visa and is for “senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion in the UK”.
New High Potential Individual route

The new High Potential Individual route goes live on 30th May 2022. The High Potential Individual Visa is aimed at recent graduates from highly ranked international universities who plan to work (or seek work) in the UK. It is important to note that this visa does not lead directly to ILR in the UK, but it will be possible to switch to another visa that will. Applicants will need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have been awarded an overseas degree-level academic qualification from an institution that appears on the Global Universities List in the last 5 years
  • Meet the English language requirements – CEFR Level B1 or above
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves
  • Not previously have been granted permission under the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Graduate or as a High Potential Individual
Final words

The new right to work check changes will require employers in the UK to review their policies, procedures, and training to ensure their ongoing compliance. Whether you are an employer or employee and require assistance to navigate any of the new immigration rules and visa changes for Spring 2022, it is advisable to seek the guidance of an immigration Solicitor.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

Why Ex-partners Don’t Retain EU Law Residence Rights After Domestic Abuse

Why Ex-partners Don’t Retain EU Law Residence Rights After Domestic Abuse

In the 2021 case of Singh (EEA; EFMs) [2021], UKUT 319 (IAC) heard in the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), Mr Singh, a national of India, appealed a decision by the Home Office to refuse his application for a residence card. Mr Singh previously held a residence card due to his durable relationship with his partner with an EU national; however, this broke down as a result of domestic violence. His application to the Home Office was for a residence card on the basis of his retained right of residence under regulation 10(5) of the EEA Regulations 2016. This was refused by the Home Office because the couple were not married or in a civil partnership, a specific requirement under this regulation. In this article, we will look at the detail of this case, the basis for the appeal, and what this means for others in the same situation.

The basis of Mr Singh’s case

The basis of Mr Singh’s case rested on EU Directive 2004/38/EC, which provides that a non-EU national in a relationship with an EU national has the retained right of residence where there have been “particularly difficult circumstances”, including domestic violence, even if unmarried. He also argued that any differential treatment on the basis of his marital status should be deemed discriminatory and, therefore, unlawful as it breaches the principle of equal treatment.

The next question is how Mr Singh was able to make this argument, given that the UK is no longer in the EU. This was possible because his residence rights were established before the UK left the EU on 1st January 2020. In addition, paragraph 5 of Schedule 3 of the EEA Transitional Regulations includes a provision for appeal rights and appeals which are pending as of the end of 2020 (the end of the transition period).

The basis of the Home Office case

The respondent (the Home Office) case was that article 3(2) under Directive 2004/38/EC, which states that “the partner with whom the Union citizen has a durable relationship, duly attested” should receive residence, should not apply because the “duty to facilitate residence under article 3 (2) had ceased well before the date of decision as that duty exists only so long as the durable relationship exists”. In making this argument, the Home Office cited the decision made in the case of Tarikul Islam [2020] UKAITUR EA043902019.

What did the Upper Tribunal conclude?

The tribunal agreed with the Home Office that the duty to facilitate residence only applies when the partner has a continuing durable relationship with the EU national sponsor. The judgement on this matter also says, “Recital 6 starts “In order to maintain the unity of the family”, yet what occurred here is that the family had on any realistic view ceased to exist. The durable relationship has ceased well before the application was made”.

They also agreed that article 13 (provision of retention of the right of residence by family members in the event of divorce, annulment of marriage or termination of registered partnership) does not apply to former durable partners. The judgement states, “The reality is that the appellant ceased to be a family member by operation of the Regulations when his relationship ceased”.

The tribunal also dismissed the argument made by Mr Singh in relation to discrimination.

The Upper Tribunal dismissed Mr Singh’s appeal.

What happened next to Mr Singh?

According to the judgement, Mr Singh applied to the EU Settlement Scheme for leave to remain. Under the EUSS rules, it is possible to apply for settled status (or pre-settled status) where a person was in a family relationship with someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who was living in the UK by 31st December 2020, and this broke down permanently because of domestic violence or abuse. Crucially, this also applies to unmarried partners. The key in making an application of this type is providing sufficient proof that domestic violence occurred. This may take the form of a criminal conviction, police caution, final order in a civil court, charging decision, domestic violence protection order, prohibited steps orders and contact order, a letter from social services, or welfare officer referral, or a letter from an organisation supporting victims of domestic violence.

Final words

It is not entirely clear from the judgement why Mr Singh did not simply apply to the EUSS and avoid the appeal process entirely. In such cases, it is always important to understand your available options and which is the most suitable to take, given the balance of the likely outcome, complexity, cost, and time. If you are in a similar position or if you have already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme either as an EU/EEA national or a non-EU/EEA family member, and you have been refused, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to quickly review your case and explain the best route to achieve your long-term objectives.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

EUSS Applicants Deprived of UK Settled Status Due to Crimes They Did Not Commit

EUSS Applicants Deprived of UK Settled Status Due to Crimes They Did Not Commit

While the EU Settlement Scheme closed for most new applications on 30th June 2021, the scheme remains open for those with a valid reason for making a late application, family members, and those switching from pre-settled to settled status. The latest government data for December 2021 shows that 6,385,500 EUSS applications have been received by the Home Office, of which 3% have been refused. While this may seem a small percentage, it amounts to nearly 200,000 people. Furthermore, around 400,000 people are still awaiting a decision on their application. In this article, we will look at why some EUSS applicants are being deprived of settled status due to crimes they did not commit.

Why are EUSS applications being deprived of settled status on criminal grounds?

The Independent recently wrote an article on the plight of some EUSS applicants who had received a decision to pause their application on criminal grounds, including in relation to non-existent pending prosecutions. The immigration rules relating to pending prosecutions for EUSS applications are covered in the Home Office’s EU Settlement Scheme: suitability requirements document. This defines a pending prosecution as one whereby a person:

  • has been arrested or summoned in respect of one or more criminal offences, and one or more of these offences has not been disposed of either by the police or the courts
  • is the subject of a live investigation by the police for a suspected criminal offence

The guidance also explains that applications where the applicant has a pending prosecution which could lead to a conviction, and a refusal on suitability grounds may need to be paused until the outcome of a prosecution is known. It also states, however, that applications paused for at least six months must be progressed when:

  • there is only one pending prosecution,
  • the maximum potential sentence upon conviction is less than 12 months, and;
  • there are no previous convictions

A freedom of information (FOI) request has revealed that this is not an isolated problem, with over 25,000 EUSS applicants having their case put on hold on the basis of a pending prosecution. The problem being is that some applicants are experiencing a pause of their EUSS application for lengthy periods for non-existent pending or quashed prosecutions.

EUSS applicants in this position already living in the UK are being told by the Home Office they have the right to remain in the UK, but not having a firm decision means they often struggle to prove their right to work, rent, and claim benefits.

Polish national had EUSS application paused for two years

As reported in the Independent, a Polish national, Mr Balewski, had his EUSS application deferred for two years due to allegations of fraud dating back to 1999 in Poland. He was subject to extradition proceedings related to this fraud, but these were quashed in a UK court in 2016. His Home Office letter stated, “If you believe that it has already concluded, but police records have yet to be updated, you must confirm with the police when their records will be updated”.

The letter from the Home Office meant that Mr Balewski was put into a position of considerable uncertainty and meant he had to make numerous enquiries of the police to gain an updated copy of the records available on the Police National Computer (PNC). Explaining just how difficult the experience was, he stated, “At the back of my mind there was always this horror of me being sent back to Poland, basically a foreign country, that I haven’t lived in for over 20 years, thinking, what now?…I was contemplating suicide. Every day when I went to work, went to sleep, it was always there, this uncertainty – it eats you alive”. Not only did he undergo considerable stress, he nearly lost his job as a sports groundsman, a position he had held for 14 years, and he struggled to find a place to live because he could not prove his right of residence in the UK.

Final words

The existing rules regarding EUSS applicant suitability and the possibility that applications may be paused pending a prosecution make reasonable sense. The problem is that where a person has no pending conviction, but the Home Office believe they do, the onus is placed onto the applicant to resolve the issue. In most cases, a simple check of the PNC would show the true situation. As Kasia Makowska from the Public Interest Law Centre explains, “By putting the onus on the applicant to liaise with the police, the Home Office is placing a heavy burden on an already vulnerable group, and ultimately penalising them if the police fail to update their records. We are concerned that thousands of people may have been impacted”.

If you are in a similar situation and you need assistance, it is recommended that you speak to an immigration Solicitor who can resolve the matter for you and push the Home Office to resume the processing of your EUSS application.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

What Changes Can We Expect To The Immigration System In 2022?

What Changes Can We Expect To The Immigration System In 2022?

There is no doubt that 2021 has been a challenging and uncertain year for everyone as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For thousands of migrants planning to come to the UK or already here, the pandemic has caused a wide range of problems from losses of loved ones, losses of jobs, reduced incomes, online learning for university students, COVID-19 restrictions, and travel restrictions affecting many trying to enter or leave the UK. In this article, we will take a look ahead at some of the changes we are anticipating to the UK’s immigration system in 2022.

The New Global Mobility route

The new ‘Global Mobility’ route, which is expected to open in Spring 2022, was mentioned in a Home Office policy paper in August 2021, in which it stated:

“The new Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence here or transfer staff to the UK will be launched in Spring 2022 under the existing sponsorship system. Improvements will be made in line with the wider sponsorship transformation project outlined in this document. The new sponsorship system will make it easier for overseas businesses to assign and manage workers coming to the UK under the Global Business Mobility route”.

It is expected that the scheme will replace three separate business visas, including the:

  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Representative of an overseas business visa
  • Temporary worker – International Agreement visa

The precise rules for the new route are not yet available, but it is expected that it will be open both to businesses with or without a presence in the UK. It will also be aimed at senior members of staff and those with specialist skills and will provide a pathway for graduate trainees (as is the case with the existing ICT graduate trainee visa).

A new ‘team subsidiary’ (TS) pathway will be trialled under the Global Mobility route, which will allow more than one person from an overseas business to come to the UK to establish a new operation (this is limited to one person under the current sole representative route). In addition, it is possible that, unlike the ICT visa rules, which currently prevent overseas transferees from working towards permanent settlement, the new route will lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). And one other possibility is that whereas Representative of an Overseas Business visa holders can stay for up to three years which can be further extended, the new route will be capped at two years for those coming to the UK for this reason.

Scale-Up visa

Another visa that has been mooted for Spring 2022 is the ‘Scale-up visa’. This new visa is part of the UK government’s plans to make the UK a global innovation hub by 2035. It will be targeted at candidates who are considered to be “very high skilled and academically elite”. Importantly, it will be differentiated from the Skilled Worker visa in that it will provide a fast-track and will not require sponsorship from a UK employer. It is expected that a job offer will be required, but the employer will not need a sponsor licence. This will widen the potential pool of employers open to suitable candidates. In addition, a minimum salary of £33,000 will be required.

The scheme has been put in place with the intention of helping businesses in the ‘scale-up’ phase, of which it is believed there are over 30,000 in the UK. This is when businesses have passed the start-up stage and are experiencing rapid expansion.

High Potential Individual visa

The High Potential Individual visa is the third of the trio of new visas to be announced and is also being readied for a Spring 2022 launch. This route is being targeted at “applicants who have graduated from a top global university”. It is not clear yet what is meant by a “top global university”, so this may be based on an existing index of top-performing education establishments. It may also be the case that this visa will be for those who have graduated in a STEM subject.

It is expected that the High Potential Individual visa will be made available to candidates even if they do not have a job offer. Visa holders will also have a route to permanent settlement, which is not the case with the existing student and graduate visa schemes.

Final words

The exact shape of this trio of visas will become clear early next year. While there is no certainty as to the effectiveness of these visas (after all, the Home Office won’t hit the mark every time), but it is hoped that collectively these will prove effective in bringing some of the world’s top talent to the UK to bolster economic growth and innovation in 2022 and beyond. We will keep you updated with the fine details of these visas as and when they are announced by the Home Office in early 2022.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

US National Wins Deportation Appeal Despite Living in the UK for Over Half a Century

US National Wins Deportation Appeal Despite Living in the UK for Over Half a Century

In October, the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber heard an appeal by 75-year old Polly Gordon against her deportation to the United States, where she was born. She won the appeal on the grounds of her human rights.

Gordon has been living in the UK since 1968, when she emigrated here in her 20’s. She applied for and gained permanent settlement in 1977 and has lived here ever since. On 18th July 2019, she was convicted in Edinburgh on three counts of supplying a controlled drug and was subsequently sentenced to one year in jail on 15th August 2019. When considering the length of sentence to be applied, it was first shortened to 18 months due to her ill health and a second time to one year on account of her entering an early plea.

Following her conviction and imprisonment, the Home Office applied to have Gordon deported to her native US in accordance with section 32(5) of the UK Borders Act 2007 (the court notes that this was the only reason for her deportation).

First Tier Tribunal upholds the deportation

The decision to deport Gordon was appealed on account of her age, time spent in the UK, ill-health, lack of access to health care in the US, and the low risk of her reoffending. The judge acknowledged Gordon’s ill health stating:

“I find that the appellant is frail, with limited mobility, that she is unable to consume solid food, that she has suffered from shingles in the recent past, and that she takes a range of medication”.

Despite this, the judge stated, “I am unable to make any findings as to what difference deportation will make to the appellant’s health”. He also acknowledged that Gordon might face problems accessing healthcare and government assistance due to her prolonged absence from the country. In addition, the judge stated that she would need to pay for her own medication, but he was not aware of the cost or the impact of discontinuing her medicines.

The first-tier judge also looked at the impact of HA (Iraq) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2020] EWCA Civ 1176 where it was decided that the length of sentence given rather than the pre-discounted sentence duration should be used to determine the extent of offending. This was disregarded, and it was concluded that Gordon’s 18-month pre-discounted sentence was not at the lower end of offending; “I am not satisfied that the appellant’s offending is at the lower end of the scale”.

Judge Komorowski dismissed the appeal acknowledging the hardship Gordon would face if deported (“She will not be able to claim Pension Credit nor likely any US social security benefit, nor will she likely have access to free healthcare, and her ability to afford it privately will be very limited”) but also stating that these would not “pose any significant obstacles to reintegration”.

Upper-Tier Tribunal finds in favour of Gordon

Gordon appealed to the Upper Tier Tribunal, where it was concluded that the first tier judge had made an error of law; “we find that the First-tier Tribunal Judge made an error of law in treating the index offence as one in which the relevant term of imprisonment was eighteen, rather than twelve, months”. The judge also made the point that the pre-discounted sentence was still on the lower end; “even if the First-tier Tribunal Judge was correct to view the seriousness of the appellant’s offence through the prism of an undiscounted eighteen-month sentence, that sentence was still at the lower end of the scale of seriousness”.

The judge noted the further deterioration in Gordon’s health since the first appeal, including the fact she now relies on a Zimmer frame and suffered a serious fall in the Spring of 2021. In addition, he agreed that Gordon would likely encounter some problems with reintegrating if relocated back to the US, not least due to her age and health issues. Nevertheless, the judge still reached the conclusion that Gordon had not “demonstrated that there would be very significant obstacles to her integration, were she to be returned”.

The Upper Tribunal made a final decision to find in favour of Gordon, on account of her Article 8 ECHR rights, from the perspective of her:

  • extremely long period in the UK predominantly as a settled person
  • her private life
  • health issues
  • age, and;
  • likely financial position if deported
Wrapping up

This case shows that the Home Office are prepared to seek the deportation of an individual if they are sentenced to imprisonment even at the lower end of seriousness, in spite of age, health, length of settlement in the UK, and difficulties with reintegrating. If you are facing a similar situation, speak to an immigration Solicitor as soon as possible, who can advise on your best options, including securing citizenship.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

Win-Win for Sportspeople and Coaches Following Announcement of the new UK International Sportsperson Visa

Win-Win for Sportspeople and Coaches Following Announcement of the new UK International Sportsperson Visa

Anyone who doubts the power of sports as a force for good in society only needed to watch the recent Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Great Britain came fourth in the Olympics medals table ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee, Australia, and the Netherlands, securing 22 gold medals, 21 silvers, and 22 bronze. In the Paralympics, Great Britain did even better, placing second with 41 gold medals ahead of the USA. Competing successfully in sports requires several ingredients; investment, great facilities, and access to the best trainers. It is also essential that top sports talent is able to come to the UK to compete, but also train and develop athletes based here. This is why the new International Sportsperson visa route, announced by the Home Office on 10th September 2021, is so welcome. But what is the new International Sportsperson route?

Government announces the new International Sportsperson visa route

The new route is intended to make it easier for top-level sportspeople from around the world to live and work in the UK. The announcement covered not only sportspeople but also top talent in different

fields (more on this later in this article). The new Sportsperson visa is described as a ‘fast-track’ route and will open at 9 am on 11th October 2021. The route effectively replaces the outgoing Tier 2 (sportsperson) and Tier 5 (creative and sporting) routes (the Home Office is gradually phasing out any reference to these tiers).

Announcing the new route, Home Secretary Priti Patel stated, “We want to attract the world’s greatest minds at the crowning point of their careers, so the UK remains number one on the global leader board in sports, the arts, science, film and technology sectors….we focus on talent and skills, not where someone comes from, and the immigration changes we’re making today demonstrate this, making it much easier for the brightest and best to live and work in the UK”. A spokesperson for the Football Association (FA) said of the new scheme, “The FA welcomes the Home Office changes to simplify the rules required for a visa application for an International Sportsperson. Ensuring a faster system after obtaining a Governing Body Endorsement from the FA will allow for the world’s best footballers to enter the country more easily”.

How will the new International Sportsperson visa work?

The new International Sportsperson visa will combine the Tier 2 and Tier 5 routes into a single route and is separate to the Global Talent Visa. The route will be available to those who wish to come to the UK for 12 months or less, however, it will be possible to stay longer if further criteria are met (see below). In order to acquire a visa under the new scheme, applicants will require:

  • endorsement from a UK Sports Governing Body, and;
  • a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a sponsoring club
  • enough points under the points-based system
  • sufficient knowledge of the English language – this is CEFR level A1 (only if staying in the UK for longer than one year)

Each of the Sports Governing Bodies has a defined set of criteria which they will apply to all applicants to determine if they meet the definition of an elite sportsperson or qualified coach.

The precise rules and eligibility requirements are yet to be published on the Home Office website, however, it is expected that applicants will need to be an “elite sportsperson or qualified coach who is sponsored on a long-term contract to make a significant contribution to the development of sport at the highest level”, as is the case under the current rules.

Assuming the above requirements are met, applicants will be able to apply for an International Sportsperson visa, pay the required application fee, and enrol their biometrics (fingerprints, photo, and signature) at a local Visa Application Centre. Some applicants may be able to enrol their biometrics using the Home Office’s online identity mobile phone app (this is typically the case for EU and EEA nationals).

It is important to note that because clubs need to sponsor players or coaches under this scheme, rather like the points-based work visa scheme, they will need a sponsor licence before they can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Final words

Whether you are an existing Tier 2 Sportsperson or T5 Creative and Sporting sponsor, or you plan to apply for a sponsor license in the near future, the new guidance explaining the rules for the new International Sportsperson visa route will not be available until 11th October 2021 when the scheme is launched. As this is more of a re-branding exercise, the process of issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) is expected to be broadly the same as it is now, and no significant changes are expected. If you need any assistance with acquiring a sponsor license, or making any adjustments to your procedures and systems in light of the new route, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to assist you. And, of course, we will keep you up to date with the latest developments as they occur.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

What is the Sponsorship Pre-Licence Priority Service?

What is the Sponsorship Pre-Licence Priority Service?

Partly (some may argue, largely) as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU on 1st January 2021 and the ending of free movement, we have seen a significant rise in the number of businesses applying for a sponsor licence to hire foreign nationals. There are several reasons for this rise in demand. There is clearly an ongoing shortage of labour in the UK, which currently cannot be met by British nationals or those settled here alone. Another factor is that the salary and skills threshold for Skilled Worker visas was reduced significantly at the end of 2020, meaning that more jobs and roles qualify for foreign worker sponsorship. To speed up the process of applying for a sponsor licence, the Home Office offers a pre-licence application priority service, allowing businesses to start hiring from overseas much sooner. But exactly how does the pre-licence priority service work, and what changes have been made to improve the service recently?

What is the UK Sponsorship Pre-Licence Priority Service?

The UK sponsorship pre-licence priority service is available to businesses applying for a new sponsor licence for a fee and enables them to receive a decision must faster than when using the standard service. Pre-licence, in this sense, simply refers to the initial application process to acquire a licence rather than for those with an existing licence.

Using the standard service, UK Visas and Immigration typically make sponsor licence decisions in around two months. Using the pre-licence priority service, it is possible to receive a decision in ten working days, although this does depend on whether all of the information required to support the case is provided.

As such, for businesses with an urgent need to hire workers from outside the EU, the priority processing scheme can make a significant difference.

The sponsorship pre-licence priority service costs an additional £500 over the standard application fee.

How can I apply to use the priority processing service?

The process of applying to use the priority processing service for a sponsor licence is broadly the same as the standard process. Once the application form for a sponsor licence is submitted, UKVI will then invite those eligible to use the priority scheme to do so. If you are invited to take advantage of the priority processing service, the next step in the process is to email the pre-licence priority service with a completed request form. All of the details will be provided in your invitation email.

The challenge for many who wish to use the priority service is that there is a cap of ten applications that can be accepted by UKVI each day (and this is across the whole of the UK). For this reason, responding promptly at the correct time is essential. Applying outside of the working hours of 9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday will likely lead to a refusal, as will applying if the cap of ten applications has already been reached.

If your application is approved, UKVI’s priority service will email to confirm and advise you of the next steps, including paying the £500 within 72 hours.

How has UKVI improved the pre-licence priority service guidance?

Some have complained that the priority service is something of a ‘lottery’, with many applicants not sure why they had been refused. The main improvements to the service made in August 2021 are to the guidance and information available. A detailed explanation of the steps involved in the process have been provided on the Home Office website, explaining when and how to apply and the series of emails and stages that follow. It also addresses many of the reasons for refusal, making it clear that priority requests must be submitted during working hours, the documents that must be attached to the request email (including an electronically signed submission sheet), and the window for making the payment. As the guidance now states, “There are several reasons why your request may not be successful: your request is ineligible for the service; we have reached our daily allocation limit; you have submitted a priority request outside the services operating times”. The revised guidance also explains that the ten-working day period only starts from when the £500 priority fee is paid and that it may take longer to receive a decision in the event of a complex case or where further information is needed.

In conclusion

The priority processing service for pre-licence sponsorship applications provides a real advantage in terms of speed of processing over the standard service. The problem can sometimes lie in being accepted into the priority processing service in the first place. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that the new guidance will do much to resolve this issue, given the small number of slots available each day. If speed is of the essence for your application, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will help to ensure your priority service request has the best chance of approval.

For assistance with your immigration law matter, phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our SRA Regulated Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

Reasons for Your ILR Application Being Refused

Reasons for Your ILR Application Being Refused

Applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is a landmark point in the life of any migrant to the UK. After going through the process of securing leave in the first place, accruing enough continuous time in the UK to gain ILR (typically five years), and then going through the lengthy and costly process of applying, receiving a letter of refusal can be deeply upsetting. Not least because much rests on securing ILR, both for the main applicant and their family members, ILR represents the penultimate step in the process of securing UK citizenship, offering holders considerable certainty and security, and means that they will no longer need to be subject to immigration rules. For these reasons, it is extremely useful to understand why ILR applications are most commonly refused, meaning that you can ensure that your application does not fall into the same pitfalls.

Poorly prepared application and supporting documents

Thankfully, of all the reasons for refusal, this is perhaps the easiest one to avoid. It is important to emphasise that UKVI will not necessarily reject an application due to a small oversight or missing document, but every error potentially increases the chance of refusal. Ultimately, UKVI case officers will make the decision on your ILR application based on the information given to them, so if you have not provided sufficient evidence that you have been in the UK continuously (you must not have been outside of the UK for more than 180 days in any one year period), or if the documents provided incorrectly show you do not meet the minimum income requirement, it stands to reason that a refusal decision is possible. Bear in mind the income requirements vary depending on your circumstances, and UKVI may carry out a pro-rata calculation of your actual income.

The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to read the guidance published by the UK Visas and Immigration (e.g. the guidance on how continuous residence is calculated), ensure that every question answered is complete and correct, and every document requested is provided and meets the standards required (e.g. in terms of translation, format, and whether it is original or a copy). If you don’t have time to do this fully, we recommend that you do no risk submitting your application. Ask an immigration Solicitor to check your application for you; not only will they review your application and documents, but they will also highlight any possible areas which may lead to questions or even refusal, and how these can be resolved (e.g. they may write a covering letter to accompany your application).

You fall into one of the grounds for refusal

It may be that a minor technicality that you have not considered or read means you are not able to gain ILR. You may have spent just one more day over the 180 days allowed in a given one year period, your tax records may show your income is not sufficient, or you may have spent time in prison for a criminal conviction and not enough time has passed since the end of the sentence (one of the grounds for refusal states a person will be refused for ILR if they have “been convicted of an offence for which they have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment of less than 12 months unless a period of 5 years has passed since the end of the sentence”).

There are several grounds for refusal for permission to stay, as defined in the Home Office’s immigration rules part 9. We recommend reading these carefully to ensure that you do not fall foul of any. For example, one of these grounds for refusal relates to making false representations in your application. For this reason, it is vital that you provide honest answers and information in your ILR application, as any attempt to mislead UKVI will lead to immediate refusal. If you are concerned that one or more of the reasons for refusal applies to you, speak to an immigration Solicitor before you apply. They will be able to outline a strategy to mitigate these concerns where this is possible.

UKVI find evidence of a tax discrepancy

Some applicants are surprised and often upset when UKVI check their tax records and find a discrepancy between their taxable income and their stated income level. This occurs because according to Paragraph 9.3.1 of the grounds for refusal, “An application for entry clearance, permission to enter or permission to stay must be refused where the applicant’s presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct, character, associations or other reasons (including convictions which do not fall within the criminality grounds)”. And in past cases, there have been situations where the Home Office has used tax and income discrepancies as a basis for refusal, as they argue this puts the conduct of the applicant into question. The Court of Appeal has now made it clear that UKVI cannot issue an immediate refusal for this reason and must inform the applicant of the finding and to give them an opportunity to provide new information, and they must consider whether there was a genuine intent to mislead. Nevertheless, it is always advisable from the outset to ensure that the figures you provide in terms of income match those recorded by HMRC.

Summing up

There are many possible reasons that an application for ILR can be refused. UKVI case officers are supposed to use their discretion where possible and provide the applicant with the chance to provide new evidence where it is needed. That said, by taking the time to understand the grounds for refusal, the eligibility rules, checking your application thoroughly, and providing the correct documents, you will boost your chances of success first time. Alternatively, if you do not have the time needed to prepare a thorough application, or if you just want to give yourself the very best chance of a positive outcome, do consider engaging an immigration Solicitor.

To find out more about the ILR application process or how to challenge a refusal, please phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

Is it Still Possible to Hire Foreign Hospitality Workers After Brexit?

Is it Still Possible to Hire Foreign Hospitality Workers After Brexit?

There is absolutely no doubt that recruiting overseas staff for hospitality roles in the UK has become more difficult as a result of Brexit and COVID-19. According to the latest BBC news, the UK’s hospitality industry is experiencing a rapidly rising worker shortage, with vacancies currently at their highest ever levels. With the ending of free movement between the UK and the European Union from the 1st January 2021, the ability for hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses to hire lower-skilled staff Home Office has Europe has been severely curtailed. As a result, we are now working with many businesses across the UK to help them find new and creative ways to recruit the staff they need; an especially pressing concern given the impact of the COVID-19 and the current ‘pingdemic’. If you are desperately trying to find enough hospitality staff domestically, what are your options for sourcing recruits from overseas?

Don’t rule out the Skilled Worker visa route

There is a widespread perception that the Skilled Worker visa (which replaced the Tier 2 General visa) is for highly skilled sponsorship only, but this is not the case. This is because the Home Office lowered the skills threshold in anticipation of Brexit from degree level to college level (i.e. A-level). As a result, the list of roles for which overseas nationals can be sponsored to work in the UK grew considerably to include a wide range of senior hospitality positions (admittedly at the more senior end of the spectrum), including chefs, floor managers, licensees, and publicans. The full list of eligible occupations under the Skilled Worker route is available on the Home Office website. We highly recommend looking at this list to see whether at least some of the roles you are currently struggling to fill are included. It is important to note that the Skilled Worker visa route does impose a minimum salary requirement of £10.10 per hour (this is £25,800 for those on a full-time salary). That said, it is possible for a lower salary to be paid in certain circumstances; the Home Office rules state, “You can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job if your salary is at least £20,480 per year and you meet one of the following criteria: your job is in a shortage occupation, you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training”.

If the Skilled Worker visa may solve at least some of your recruitment needs, you will need to secure a sponsorship licence in order to sponsor an overseas candidate.

The EU Settlement Scheme

Many businesses assume that if they find a suitable candidate who is from the EEA/EU and is currently living in the UK and they have not applied for EU Settled Status, it is too late for them to apply, and hence they cannot hire them. In some cases, it may be possible for them to apply even though the EU Settlement Scheme closed for applications on 30th June 2021. The Home Office guidance for caseworkers tells them, “In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, there remains scope, indefinitely, for a person eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme to make a late application to the scheme where, in light of all the circumstances and reasons, there are reasonable grounds for their failure to meet the deadline applicable to them”. Examples of reasonable grounds for a late application to the EUSS include:

  • Where a parent, guardian, or local authority did not apply on behalf of a child or a person in care
  • Where someone had a serious medical condition or had significant medical treatment
  • Victims of modern slavery
  • Those in an abusive or controlling relationship
  • Other compelling practical or compassionate reasons – for example, where a person did not have proper accommodation and access to a computer or insufficient support was not available due to COVID-19

Remember, in order to make a late application under the EUSS, candidates must have been living in the UK before the end of 2021. While a late application is not a possibility for many, it may be for some suitable candidates.

Other immigration routes to consider

There are several other immigration routes that may enable UK hospitality businesses to find suitable overseas candidates, as follows:

  • Youth Mobility Scheme visa – for those between 18 and 30 from Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, or San Marino, in addition to British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, and British nationals (overseas).
  • Student visa – allows international degree-level students to work part-time during term-time (up to a maximum of 20 hours a week) and full-time during holiday periods.
  • UK Frontier Worker permit – Frontier Worker permits provide an option for candidates who will be primarily residents in the EU but will come to the UK to work. Candidates will need to prove they have ‘genuine and effective’ work in the UK – more details on the UK Frontier Worker permit can be found on the Home Office website.
Final words

We are not suggesting that the options outlined above are sufficient to resolve the shortage of hospitality workers in the UK entirely, but they may offer a partial mitigation. If you would like to discuss any of the immigration routes outlined above as a means of resolving your hospitality worker crunch, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to explain more.

To find out more about the EUSS or hiring overseas workers, please phone us on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors based in Birmingham and London.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice.

UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.