In a recently published statement of changes, the UK government announced wide-ranging changes to the UK Immigration Rules, including the launch of new Global Mobility routes, a High Potential Individual route, and a Scale-up route.
Changes to the UK Immigration Rules will be implemented between 11 April 2022 and 22 August 2022 and will replace the existing Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route and the Representative of an Overseas Business route. New provisions will also be introduced for secondees whose employers have high-value contracts or investments in the United Kingdom.
The Global Mobility route will be a new category for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the United Kingdom for specific business purposes. This route will open to new applicants on 11 April 2022 and there will be five sub-categories.
Senior or Specialist Worker
This route reforms and replaces the ICT route. It is designed for use by senior managers and specialist employees of an international group business who are being transferred to one of the group's UK businesses. The role must meet the required skill level and minimum salary threshold of £42,500 per year. Applicants must have worked for the overseas business for at least 12 months, unless they are a high earner with a salary of £73,900 or more.
This route reforms and replaces the ICT Graduate Trainee route. It is intended for workers on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position and who are required to do a work placement in the United Kingdom. The role must meet the minimum salary requirement of £23,100 per year.
UK Expansion Worker
This route reforms and replaces the Representative of an Overseas Business route; however, this route will not lead to settlement, which was available under the Representative of an Overseas Business route. This route is intended for senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to the United Kingdom to undertake work relating to a business’s expansion in the United Kingdom.
This route reforms and replaces the Temporary Work–International Agreement route. It is intended for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the United Kingdom, where the worker is either a contractual service supplier employed by an overseas service provider or a self-employed independent professional based overseas who needs to undertake an assignment in the United Kingdom to provide services covered by one of the United Kingdom’s international trade commitments.
This will be a new route allowing individuals to undertake temporary work assignments where they are seconded to the United Kingdom as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer.
Global Mobility migrants will only be granted immigration permission for up to five years in any six-year period, except for high-earning senior or specialist workers, who may be granted a maximum of nine years in any 10-year period. Family members are permitted to apply as dependents and there is no limit on the number of such applications.
If, on 10 April 2022, a business holds a valid sponsor licence for the ICT route, the Home Office will automatically add the Senior or Special Worker route to such licence. It will also add the Graduate Trainee route if either of the following is true:
The certificate of sponsorship allocation for the Senior or Specialist Worker route will be the same as the total certificate of sponsorship allocation for the ICT route on 10 April 2022.
If the sponsor licence is updated to also include the Graduate Trainee route, the certificate allocation for that route will be the same as the total certificate allocation for the ICT route on 10 April 2022, up to a maximum of 20 certificates.
The ICT route sponsor licence will be retained so the business can continue to report on workers with existing permission on that route, but it will no longer have an active certificate of sponsorship allocation for the ICT route.
The High Potential Individual route will open on 30 May 2022. This route is for recent graduates of “top global universities” (defined as institutions listed in the top 50 of at least two ranking systems). Applicants must have successfully completed an eligible course of study equivalent to the UK bachelor’s degree level or above outside the United Kingdom in the last five years.
There is no job offer requirement and applicants will be permitted to work in the United Kingdom and bring their dependent family members with them. This route will not lead to settlement and will be granted for two years for applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree or three years for applicants with a qualification equivalent to a Ph.D.
The Scale-up route will open on 22 August 2022. This route is for individuals recruited by a UK scale-up sponsor with a high-skilled job offer from a qualifying scale-up business at the required salary level—either the going rate for their specific role or the general salary threshold of £10.58 per hour or £33,000 per year, whichever is higher. There will also be an English language requirement. Dependent family members will be able to join. This will be a five-year route to settlement in the United Kingdom.
Scale-up companies will be able to apply through a fast-track verification process, so long as they can demonstrate annual average revenue or an employment growth rate greater than 20% over a three-year period, with a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
The UK government will further explore whether scale-up companies that can demonstrate an expectation of strong growth in future years may also qualify.
Unlike other sponsored routes, the Scale-up route will only require individuals to be sponsored for the initial six months on the route. To extend and apply for settlement, applicants will need to meet the minimum salary requirement and prove that they are employed in a graduate-level occupation.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Shannon A. Donnelly