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The UK Border is Open for Top Talent

In 2021 the UK immigration system was significantly revamped following Brexit. However, with our new points-based system barely a year old, further changes are on the horizon.

Acknowledging that 49 per cent of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses have at least one foreign-born co-founder and approximately 40 per cent of staff at UK fintechs are from overseas, in October’s Budget the Chancellor identified the need for innovative UK businesses to have access to the talent they need, when they need it. New visa routes are to be introduced in Spring 2022 aimed at attracting the ‘brightest and best to the UK’.

The Government has committed to introducing new scale-up and global business mobility visas to attract highly skilled people and support inward investment. Startup body the Coalition for a Digital Economy has described the scale-up visa plans as ‘the biggest visa improvement in a generation’.

Here’s a snapshot of what we expect to see from these new visa categories:

Scale-Up visa

Global Business Mobility visa

 Purpose: to make it quicker and easier for companies experiencing rapid growth (i.e. in the scale-up phase) to hire the best skilled labour from around the world.

‘Scale-Up businesses’ are those that:

- have expanded at 20% or more per year in either revenue or employee count over the past 3 years

- are still growing

- have at least 10 employees at the start of the 3 year period

Requirements for the individual:

- English language competency

- Job offer from Scale-Up business for high skilled position with a salary of at least £33,000

Benefits:

- No requirement for the employer to have a Sponsor Licence to sponsor employees

- Faster processing times

- Less expensive than sponsoring under the Skilled Worker route

Purpose: to provide a new streamlined immigration route allowing overseas entities greater flexibility in transferring workers to the UK to establish and expand their businesses.

Categories of employees eligible:

- Senior or specialist workers

- Graduate trainees undertaking a UK placement as part of a structured training programme

- Those on secondment to a UK business for a specific purpose

Requirements for the individual:

- The precise structure and detail hasn’t yet been decided but will reform the existing Intra-Company Transferee and Representative of an Overseas Business visa routes

Benefits:

- Widening the scope for overseas businesses with or without an established UK presence

- Will allow for the transfer of a team to the UK to establish the new branch rather than just one individual

Whilst the finer detail around these new routes is scant, we will keep a watchful eye out for the detailed guidance, likely to be released in early spring 2022.

In the meantime, the Skilled Worker sponsorship process remains available as a way to employ skilled workers from outside the UK. Under this route, UK companies can sponsor overseas workers by first applying for a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office.

Our team of specialist Immigration and Employment solicitors are ready to help guide you through the process of engaging overseas talent.  We work closely with organisations to understand their requirements and advise on the best route to bringing individuals into the UK.

For more information on the article above, please contact Kirsty Cooke or Laura Wonnacott.

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