New UK Immigration Routes Present Opportunities for Foreign Workers

In its bid to become a global tech hub by 2035 and bolster the economy post-Brexit and COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has made some changes to its immigration rules. Come spring this year, the Home Office will launch three new visas to help UK employers access international talents and encourage foreign businesses to explore the UK market. The visas are the Scale-up route, Global Business Mobility route, and High Potential Individual route.

These routes have the prospects to bridge the widening shortage at the labour market and also help foreign workers migrate to the UK. Though the modalities for their application processing are yet to be finalised, they promise to be much easier to process than most related routes. This means UK businesses and their prospective foreign employees will face less difficulties and spend less wait time in obtaining the visas.

  • Scale-Up Visa

This visa targets highly skilled foreign nationals with a UK employment offer of up to £33,000 annual salary. Like most UK work visas, applicants may have to demonstrate proficiency in the English Language.

For employers, they must show three years of employment growth or 20% yearly sales. At the start of the 3 years, they must have at least 10 employees. Nevertheless, it’s expected that the qualifications will be adjusted to accommodate companies with high growth expectations. 

If successful, applicants can stay in the UK for 5 years, during which they can change employers. 5 years of residency in the UK qualify for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application to become a permanent resident. As a result, the Scale-up visa can be a pathway to British citizenship.

Highly talented persons like science and tech experts will likely benefit most from this visa. These sectors record the lowest number of skilled workers in the UK.  

This visa is expected to be a lot less stringent to process for UK employers and prospective foreign workers alike. Also, it should allow for dependent family members to join beneficiaries since UK skilled worker visas allow it. 

  • Global Business Mobility Visa

The Global Business Mobility Visa is open to international companies operating in the UK. It allows such organisations to bring in a foreign employee to occupy a temporary position or for a specific corporate purpose. 

This position or corporate purpose must be one that a resident worker cannot occupy or handle. Also, the visa mandates that companies fully sponsor workers they bring in. 

The Global Business Mobility visa will serve as a general category for these classes of workers from international companies:

  1. Senior or specialist worker coming to meet specific business needs.
  2. Secondment worker sent to UK firms in high-value contracts or investments.
  3. Graduate trainee as entering part of a training programme.
  4. UK expansion worker to establish a UK presence.
  5. Service supplier to the UK in line with UK trade agreements

In addition to bringing in individual workers, the Global Business Mobility visa permits companies to bring in a team of workers as a single unit. Hence, it’s predicted to be more flexible than other similar visas. 

The major qualification is that applicants show a relationship with the UK company and prove they are qualified to handle the tasks or position they are being assigned.

  • High Potential Individual 

The High Potential Individual visa is in line with the UK’s “levelling up” goal. The government plans to make it very easy – easier than any other country – for innovative talents to enter the UK. Hence, the visa is open to top international talents with the skills to help achieve this plan. 

The visa is also meant for highly talented individuals who can contribute significantly to the UK economy. However, it’s different from the UK Global Talent visa or Skilled Work visa.

The eligibility requirements for High Potential Individual visa are not yet finalised, but applicants must have graduated from top government recognised universities across the world.

Just like the Scale-up visa, beneficiaries of the High Potential Individual visa can stay in the UK for up to 5 years. It may as well lead to permanent residency, and British citizenship as beneficiaries can apply for ILR.

How Foreign Workers Can Leverage the New Routes

If you are a foreign national seeking to work in the UK, you may be eligible for one of these new visas. The UK government wants to grow the economy and achieve its levelling up goals; thus, there may be a large number of beneficiaries.

The scale-up and high potential individual visas can subsequently lead to you becoming a permanent resident and possibly a UK citizen. Although the visas are expected to be less stringent in processing, they all require certain levels of qualifications. So, get your supporting documents and other proof ready. Also, you can consult highly experienced UK immigration lawyers to help assess your possibilities and guide you through the process.

What Does This Mean for UK Businesses?

The effects of COVID-19 saw many UK companies in different sectors lose workers according to multiple reports. Brexit also didn’t help as it prevented companies from recruiting freely from across Europe. 

Pre-Brexit, UK companies were able to recruit freely since there were no travel restrictions on EU nationals. They could travel to and enter the UK for work and other reasons. Post-Brexit, the UK government introduced the points-based immigration system, and EU nationals now pass through various immigration processes to get UK visas.

The new visas come spring will have more straightforward and quicker processing that’ll make it easier for foreign nationals to enter the UK for work. Hence, it’s a major win for UK businesses that need skilled workers. 

Such businesses can now recruit high-potential and highly skilled individuals from foreign countries. It gets even better for international companies as they can also bring in interim workers from their overseas branches.

Olusegun Akinfenwa writes for Immigration Advice Service, a UK-based law firm that provides global immigration service and representation.