New Statement of Changes in
Immigration Rules

On 15 March 2022, the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes which sets out forthcoming changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules. The 205 page document highlights some amendments to several existing immigration routes and also reaffirms the impending launch of some much anticipated new work visa categories.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Minister for Safe and Legal Migration Kevin Foster said: “We have made changes to the Immigration Rules which will implement the Plan for Growth measures, including the launch of the new Global Business Mobility routes, High Potential Individual (HPI) route and Scale-up route.

The Global Business Mobility routes represent a world-leading offer for businesses. These new and reformed routes will make mobility across the UK border as frictionless as possible, while at the same time ensuring international trade serves the interests of British workers and our economy.

Delivering on the Government’s commitment to Build Back Better, we are launching two new immigration routes, the Scale-up and High Potential Individual routes. These routes will provide UK businesses access to a more flexible pool of highly skilled workers.”

Smith Stone Walters will perform a deep-dive into the new routes individually in future articles and explain how the changes could impact businesses transferring staff to the UK this year. In the meantime, below is a snapshot of the Statement’s main headline items regarding UK work routes.

Introduction of the new Global Business Mobility routes

The Global Business Mobility visa will be a new ‘umbrella category’ consisting of of five sponsored routes for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK for specific business purposes.

The new routes will replace four existing work categories and create a new provision for secondments. As well as rebranding to make these provisions more easily identifiable by businesses seeking to send workers to the UK, the requirements and conditions for each have also been simplified and consolidated where possible to provide greater clarity to employers and workers.

The five routes will correspond to different assignment types as follows:

  • Senior or Specialist Worker – For senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas. This route replaces the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route.
  • Graduate Trainee – 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. This route replaces the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route.
  • UK Expansion Worker – For senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion to the UK. This route replaces the Sole Representative provisions in the Representative of an Overseas Business route.
  • Service Supplier – For contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider and self-employed independent professionals based overseas, that need to undertake an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments. This route replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional provisions in the Temporary Work – International Agreement route.
  • Secondment Worker – For workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas. This is a new route in the Immigration Rules.

Introduction of the new High Potential Individual (HPI) and Scale-up routes

These two new points-based routes for highly skilled workers were first announced in the Government’s Plan for Growth, published on 3 March 2021.

The High Potential Individual route:

The High Potential Individual route is a new route which delivers the commitment in the Plan for Growth to “introduce an elite points-based route to attract the brightest and best to the UK to maintain our status as a leading international hub for emerging technologies”.

Applicants in this route must have either a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree qualification from one of the top global universities outside the UK as published in the Global Universities List by the Home Office, awarded during the last 5 years from the date of application. The list will be compiled on an annual basis and consists of eligible non-UK institutions that are included in the list of the top 50 universities in at least two of the following ranking systems:

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

Under the High Potential Individual route, applicants with a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree will be permitted to stay for 2 years, and applicants holding a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD will be able to stay for 3 years.

The Scale-up route:

The Scale-up route is a new route which delivers the commitment in the Plan for Growth to “allow those with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa”.

Applicants in this route must have a sponsored job offer from an authorised UK scale-up company. The job offer above must be skilled to graduate level (RQF 6 and equivalent) and be paid a salary of at least £33,000 per year or the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher.

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 Government will consider further ways in which scale-up companies may be able to register for this route in due course.

Under the Scale-up route, permission will be granted for 2 years. To extend their permission to stay, applicants must have PAYE earnings of at least £33,000 per year for at least 50% of their time in the route. Extensions will be granted for 3 years. The route also leads to settlement in the UK, providing the applicant meets the requirements.

Updates to the Global Talent route

The Global Talent route is for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, digital technology and arts and culture wishing to work in the UK. Changes are being made to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements to reflect feedback and recommendations from the endorsing bodies for the route.

Furthermore, following advice from the relevant endorsing bodies, the list of prizes in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes has been expanded to cover a slightly wider range of prizes. Applicants who hold a qualifying prize are able to qualify without the need to obtain an endorsement from one of the Global Talent endorsing bodies. The list will be kept under review and may be revised in future updates to the Immigration Rules.

Expansion and updates to the Seasonal Worker route

The Seasonal Worker route is being expanded to include roles in ornamental horticulture. This includes, but is not limited to, those growing daffodils, Christmas trees, and also forest nursery workers.

A new minimum hourly pay requirement has also been added to the route, requiring all workers to be paid at least £10.10 per hour. This will be equal to the minimum hourly rate that those applying on the Skilled Worker route are required to meet.

Finally, all references to poultry production work, haulage driving work involving transportation of food goods, or specified pork butchery work have been deleted as the deadlines for applications on this route to work in these roles have now expired.

Keep up to date

The changes outlined in the Statement of Changes will be implemented on different dates starting from 6 April 2022. Smith Stone Walters will communicate further updates on the upcoming changes in due course.

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