On the 15th of March 2022, the government of the United Kingdom (UK) released a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 1118.  

The UK has been experiencing serious labour shortages in recent months, with many skilled, older workers leaving the workforce due to a drop in wages, among other concerns.

These updates bode well for young foreign nationals looking to work, live and study in the UK, as the new routes and updates to previous routes reflect the UK government’s willingness to attract highly skilled foreigners to its shores. 

Some of the updates include the Global Business Mobility category which brings together previous existing categories, the High Potential Individual (‘HPI’) route and the Scale-up route. According to the Statement of Changes above, these updates will take effect between 6 April 2022 and 22 August 2022.

Updates to Existing UK Immigration Routes:

1: Foreign students at UK universities who apply for permission to reside in-country through the Graduate route are now able to apply for full-time, permanent employment once they’ve completed their studies.

2: Foreign students at UK universities who apply for permission to reside in-country through the Skilled Worker route are now allowed to take up full-time, permanent employment for up to three months before they’ve completed their studies. 

An Overview of Updated Global Business Mobility Immigration Routes

Global Mobility immigration routes sponsor international companies to either establish or grow their business in the UK and/or transfer foreign employees to the UK Except for the secondment worker, the Global Business Mobility routes have not brought major changes to the substance of previously available categories.

The Secondment Worker

This is a new foreign employee immigration route and applies to workers who are seconded temporarily to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their foreign employer.

The Graduate Trainee

This route replaces the previous Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa and applies to employees on graduate training courses that culminate in senior management or specialist positions, who must take up a work placement in the UK.

The Senior Specialist Worker

This route replaces the previous Intra-Company Transfer Visa, which allows foreign employees to be temporarily assigned to linked UK companies.

The UK Expansion Worker

This route replaces the previous Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa and applies to senior foreign employees who will be setting up the first UK subsidiary of an overseas business.

An Overview of New UK Immigration Routes

1: High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa

This visa will be implemented in May this year and focuses on attracting graduates from the top 50 international universities (as specified on the list determined by the Home Office).

Holders of this visa will be able to seek employment within the UK without a job offer.

Foreign graduates looking to work in the UK may apply for this visa under the following conditions:

  • To qualify, you must have graduated from a university on the abovementioned list with a Bachelor’s or Postgraduate degree, within the last five years. 
  • Holders of a Bachelor’s or Masters will be granted a two-year non-renewable visa.
  • Doctorate holders will be given a three-year, non-renewable visa.

2: Scale-up Visa

Companies in the UK experiencing a high-growth phase are encouraged to hire foreign nationals through this immigration route.

The following conditions apply to this fast-track employment visa:

  • The company must experience annual growth of a minimum of 20% for the previous three-year period in terms of turnover or staffing
  • The company must have employed a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period
  • When the company has been granted a sponsor licence based on the above, they may sponsor foreign graduates to fill job roles at RFQ Level 6 with a salary level of a minimum of £ 33 000,00 annually. 
  • Workers on this visa will not require sponsorship after six months and will therefore be able to take up any employment at any company after this period.

As more information on the processing aspects of these new and updated visa routes is being published, we will update our clients when we know more.

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Compiled by: Lauren Daniels and Hannah Mminele