The article is contributed by Gayatri Panda, Business Partner, Themis Technologies Ltd., London.
The UK tech industry is now worth $1 trillion, making it the world's third largest behind the United States and China. The UK tech startups and scaleups are receiving more investments than ever before, such as £29.4 billion in 2021; as a result, tech hiring activities within the UK organisations have skyrocketed. According to the statistics, the number of advertised IT jobs is up 42% compared to pre-pandemic levels. As the talent competition is getting fierce globally, the UK is joining the worldwide hunt for talents with a world-leading migration system. So what are the immigration routes for international technology talent to join the UK’s thriving tech sector?
A visa sponsorship means that an organisation, also known as the sponsor, is providing you a job because they are unable to fill a position in the local market. The sponsor is also legally and financially responsible for you and your activities throughout your stay in the country and must report to the UK government. There are various types of sponsored visas;
Skilled Worker Visa
A Skilled Worker visa allows foreign nationals to enter or remain in the UK to work for an authorised company in an eligible job. The Tier 2 (General) work visa was replaced by this visa route. To be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, you must have a job offer from a UK company with appropriate salary level. After five years of stay in the UK, the Skilled Worker route can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and eventually British Citizenship or British Passport.
Global Business Mobility Visa
It's a new sponsored work visa option for international companies wanting to temporarily relocate employees to the UK to establish a UK presence or for specific commercial purposes. The introduction of the new route corresponds with the end of the Sole Representative visa and Intra Company Transfer or known as the ICT visa.
There are five subcategories in the Global Business Mobility route:
- Senior or Specialist Worker: This visa has taken the position of the Intra-company Transfer visa. This category is for senior managers or specialists assigned to a UK company affiliated with their employer. It will not result in a settlement in the United Kingdom.
- Graduate Trainee: The Graduate Trainee route replaces the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee Visa. This visa is intended for employees who are being relocated to the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme for a managerial or speciality post. You must have worked for your employer overseas for at least three months prior to the date of application. Graduate trainees will be paid at least £23,100 per year as a minimum wage. It does not directly lead to settlement in the UK. However, you may be able to change your immigration status to one that leads to permanent residence.
- UK Expansion Worker: The UK Expansion Worker visa, which supersedes the Sole Representative visa, allows senior or specialised employees to enter the UK for a short length of time to carry out work related to their company's expansion ambitions in the UK. It does not directly lead to settlement in the UK. However, you may be able to change your immigration status to one that leads to permanent residence.
The Scale-up visa is a newly introduced sponsored work visa that will become available on August 22, 2022. The sponsoring employer must be a scaleup firm in the United Kingdom, with annualised turnover or staffing growth of at least 20% for the three years preceding the application and a minimum of 10 employees at the commencement of the three-year period.
You need a sponsorship from a scaleup company and you must work full-time for the company in any position for 6 months. So, after just 6 months of being linked to a single company, you will be free to work in the UK in any employment of your choice. Nevertheless, the job must also meet specific standards, such as having a skill level of at least degree level (RQF level 6) and paying a minimum wage of £33,000 or the market rate for the position, whichever is higher.
After 5 years of continuous residency, you will be able to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain). You must have earned at least £33,000 (PAYE) in at least two of the three years preceding your ILR application.
INDEPENDENT VISA FOR EMPLOYMENT AND BUSINESS
One of the ways the UK government believes Britain can attract high-quality migration is by implementing independent elite visa routes.
High Potential Individual Visa
The government's attempt to attract the world's "brightest and best" into the UK economy incorporates the High Potential Individual visa. It is scheduled to open on May 30, 2022. The High Potential Individual visa is intended for international graduates with a bachelor's, postgraduate or PhD degree within the last 5 years from a university outside the United Kingdom that is listed in the top 50 global universities ranking. Graduates with a bachelor's or master's degree can stay in the UK for up to two years, or up to three years if they have a PhD. It does not lead to permanent residence in the United Kingdom, visa holders can move to another UK visa option, such as the Skilled Worker visa.
Global Talent Visa
This visa is for globally recognised world leaders or promising individuals in Science and Medicine, Engineering, Humanities, Digital Technology, Arts and Culture, and Research. This visa provides absolute freedom and greater flexibility regarding work, location, remuneration, leave and engagement with organisations. You can join a company or start your business without any restriction. This results in a settlement after 3 years if you are a leader applicant or 5 years if you are a promising candidate. The UK govt has appointed Endorsement Bodies for above mentioned fields, you need to make an application along with proof of your past achievements and future plan in line with the government guideline. Upon successful approval, you can apply for immigration.
The Startup visa category is for high-potential entrepreneurs looking to establish their business in the United Kingdom. To qualify, you need a new, innovative, viable and scalable business idea that is endorsed by a UK govt appointed endorsing body. The Startup visa is valid for a maximum of two years, after which you can switch to the Innovator Visa.
The Innovator Visa is for experienced business individuals who want to start a company in the United Kingdom. You must have a new, innovative, viable and scalable business idea that is endorsed by a UK govt appointed endorsing body and you are ready to invest £50,000 to your business. Under the Innovator Visa you are eligible to apply for ILR after 3 years.
The United Kingdom recognises migrants as one of the most efficient means to encourage the development and investments in viable, innovative, and scalable businesses in the United Kingdom in order to drive economic growth. The UK government has done everything possible to remove barriers to innovation and business expansion, resulting in a 31% increase in the number of technology firms in the UK private sector since 2010. With this fast and easy visa support, a favourable tax regime, stable and democratic political system, strong and respected system of law and a strengthening British Pound also known as safe haven currency, the UK is becoming the home for technology experts and digital innovators globally.