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, 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.