The article is contributed By Mr. Yash Dubal, Director, A Y & J Solicitors, London, UK.
The UK Government has unveiled a range of measures to entice talented Indian workers but has made life more difficult for some entrepreneurs and investors.
Recently, the British immigration system introduced several significant changes designed to attract ‘the brightest and best’ migrants from around the world. The aim of the policy changes is to boost UK productivity, making the nation more competitive.
One of the most significant updates is the introduction of the highly anticipated Scale-Up visa route on August 22. This is targeted at highly skilled graduates wishing to work for UK companies with an annualized growth of at least 20% over the last three years and at least 10 employees at the beginning of the period.
The Scale-up visa holders will be able to change employers after six months of working for their initial sponsor company, unlike workers on Skilled Worker visas who can only work for their sponsor.
The Scale Up visa application process is anticipated to be easier than the current system for Skilled Workers. Candidates must speak English proficiently and have a job offer that is at the graduate level or above with a £33,000 per annum salary, or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
The visa lasts for two years and can be extended for a further three if certain criteria are met. After five years’ continuous residence, an application for permanent settled status can be made, providing certain conditions are met.
Another option for talented individuals wishing to work in the UK is the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, which is opening for applications from 30 May. This ‘elite’ visa route is aimed at applicants who have gained a bachelors or postgraduate degree from a top-ranking university. The list of qualifying universities will be compiled annually by the UK Home Office – the UK government department in charge of immigration. Generally, post-grads from institutions in the top 50 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings and The Academic Ranking of World Universities will qualify. Candidates will also need to speak English proficiently and can sponsor dependents.
The visa will allow high-flyers to work in any full-time job at any skill and pay level but is not a route to settlement.
While the HPI and Scale Up visas are squarely aimed at attracting highly qualified individuals to boost the UK’s tech, digital and fintech sectors, there is also a new route for business people. The Global Mobility visa offers several options for workers going to the UK on temporary business assignments. There are sub-categories for graduate trainees, service suppliers, seconded workers, managers and specialists transferring from overseas branches and senior employees deployed to the UK by Indian businesses to expand their UK presence. These routes open from 11 April 2022.
While these new routes aim to poach talent from other nations, other well-established visa routes have been closed. The controversial Investor or ‘golden’ visa was closed earlier in the year following concerns it had been used as a way of bringing dirty money to the UK to be laundered.
The Sole Representative Visa route has been closed for initial applications from 11 April 2022, and also the Intra-Company Transfer route. These closures create real problems for businesses in India wishing to expand into the UK, for which Global Mobility routes are unsuitable. In these cases, A Y & J Solicitors, an expert immigration legal practice based in London, has pioneered a new, legal process called Self-sponsorship.
This innovative idea allows those with a genuine intention to open a business in the UK a route to realise their ambitions. The process involves establishing a UK company, and then applying for a sponsor licence, which allows that company to sponsor an overseas worker on a Skilled Worker visa. That skilled worker will be the applicant, who, in effect, will be sponsoring themself to work in their own company. Under this scheme, after five years the visa holder may also qualify for residency and after six, for citizenship. They can also take spouses and children under 18.
There are big changes in the UK immigration system over the next months and the advice offered is to seek legal help from a reputable immigration expert when weighing up the possibilities of emigrating.