Hello from the Business Immigration Team!
We’re often asked about upcoming changes in the world of Business Immigration. We thought that now was a good opportunity to provide a brief update on what to expect in the next 12 months. 2022 looks like it will be a busy year!
There are withdrawals of, and changes to existing visas, reminders for sponsors, and new visas on the horizon. So whether you are a business looking to hire workers, or an individual looking to work in the UK, there should be something of interest or use for you down below.
Care workers to be included on the Shortage Occupation List
The big news is the announcement that the government will shortly be including SOC code 6145 - Care Workers on the Shortage Occupation List. Announced on Christmas Eve, the plans will extend Shortage Occupation coverage beyond just Senior Care Workers on SOC Code 6146. With the aim of relieving some of the pressure that the care worker staffing crisis is causing on the sector.
For the uninitiated, if the government recognise that the UK does not have enough settled skilled workers to fill a role, it goes on the Shortage Occupation List. This has benefits for both employers and candidates. The full list of Shortage Occupations can be seen here.
If you are an employer with a sponsor licence, you will be able to hire care workers from overseas. Without first needing to offer the role to a settled worker or advertise in the UK. The minimum salary you have to offer will also be reduced to the higher of £20,480 per year or 80% of the going rate for SOC code 6145.
If you are a care worker looking to come to the UK, this will hopefully make it easier to secure work. As there will now be an increased number of employers who are able to hire from overseas.
However, the government has announced that these changes will be temporary. In order to boost the care sector work force and care workers under SOC code 6145 will only be able to benefit from a 12 month visa.
If you are interested in speaking with us about applying for a sponsor licence. You can click here to book an appointment to explore your options.
Annual CoS allocation
While we’re on the topic of sponsor licences, with a new year comes new CoS allocations. As those with sponsor licences know, to hire overseas workers who are already in the UK you need an undefined certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to assign to them.
If you are a relatively new sponsor, you may have undefined CoS’s left on your system from when you applied for your licence. If you are a more experienced sponsor you may have some of your yearly allocation left over. Regardless, when you come up to the anniversary of your sponsor licence, these left over CoS’s will expire.
While you can apply for new certificates throughout the year, these requests take around 18 weeks to be processed. For that reason we recommend taking the following steps:
- Remind yourself when your licence anniversary is;
- Consider what your CoS needs will be in the coming year;
- Apply for your desired allocation before your renewal through your sponsor management system.
When considering your CoS needs you should keep in mind:
- If you have any sponsored employees who’s visas will be up for renewal during the year;
- Whether you have any workers currently working for you on routes that do not require sponsorship. Such as students working part time or those on a graduate visa, who you would like to sponsor to work for you on a longer term basis;
- If you have any plans for expansion during the coming year.
Remember, you will need to justify any requests for an increase in your allocation. If you would like our help in arranging your allocation application we would be delighted to support you. Just give us a call, or email your usual solicitor.
Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
The Home Office closed this route with immediate effect on 17 February 2022 citing ‘security concerns’. Noting that, providing the usual 21 days’ notice, would trigger a substantial upturn in applications in advance of the closure of the route. Including from “individuals that represent some degree of potential harm”.
Applications for leave to remain as an existing Investor migrant must be made before 17 February 2026. And applications for indefinite leave before 17 February 2028.
The long awaited review of the Innovator Visa (below) is now expected to provide an investment related option to replace the Tier 1 (Investor) visa in the autumn.
Review of the Innovator visa
In March 2021, the Chancellor announced a review of the Innovator visa as part of the Spring budget. The review aims to make it “easier for those with skills and experience to found an innovative business to obtain a visa”.
The innovator visa is aimed at allowing individuals with an innovative, scalable and viable business to come to the UK. Then ultimately settle if the business is a success. Many of our clients ask us what “innovative” means. For this visa, it means there must be nothing else like it in the UK. If you think your visa matches that criteria, you can book an appointment to discuss your options with our team by clicking here.
High Potential visa
As the innovator visa demonstrates, the UK’s current immigration strategy is to attract the best and brightest to the UK.
The government has been under fire recently after the ‘prestigious prize route’ received zero applications during its first six months. This route aimed at making it easier for Nobel laureates, Grammy winners, and other award recipients in the sciences, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology sectors to apply for the Global Talent visa.
As a new alternative, the High Potential visa looks to be more open and more practical for applicants. While the eligibility criteria is not set in stone, reports suggest it will be aimed at those who have graduated from a ‘top global university’. With no requirement to have an offer of employment or sponsor. This will give successful applicants a more seamless experience when it comes to finding work or changing jobs.
The high potential route isn’t the only new visa on the horizon. In November we wrote about the Scale Up visa. Announced in the Autumn, this is another skilled work focused route. It allows workers in a ‘high skilled’ job and a minimum salary of £33,000 to come and work in the UK.
They will need to work at an ‘eligible business’ that has shown strong growth over a three year period. And can demonstrate that similar growth is expected in the future.
We are expecting that this visa will need to fit into the existing sponsor licence structure in some way. But this has not yet been confirmed.
There hasn’t been an update since we last wrote on this topic. But as the visa is expected to launch in the Spring, there shouldn’t be too much longer to wait for more details.
To read everything we know so far you can read our previous article here.
Bite sized updates
There are a few other bits of news and changes floating around that don’t warrant much in writing but may be useful to keep in mind. These are:
- We’re seeing an increase in delays in processing times for applicants. At the ILPA AGM in November 2021, representatives of the Home Office confirmed that this was due to a high volume of applications. And that service standards are under review;
- The Home Office have indicated a desire to increase the number of priority slots available for points based system applications in early 2022. However, nothing concrete has been confirmed.
As always we are delighted to support you, if you have a question on anything we’ve written about, or if you have an unrelated immigration question or issue. You can book a free appointment to speak a member of our team by clicking here.