5 March 2021 | Comment | Article by Rhiannon Dale

New Immigration Route for Highly Skilled Workers

Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday announced new highly skilled immigration visa routes in his budget announcement.

The government has already announced a series of changes to our immigration rules following Brexit, but these new visas are aimed at very highly skilled migrants and it is hoped that they will help “attract and retain the most highly skilled, globally mobile talent” to the UK.

The government proposes the following:

  • A new “Elite Points Based” visa - the criteria are yet to be announced but we know that this new visa will enable those with a job offer from a recognised UK “scale-up” company to qualify for a fast-track visa without the need for sponsorship. This is aimed at highly skilled professions in academia, science, research and technology sectors;
  • Reform to the “Global Talent” visa – the government proposes to allow holders of international prizes and winners of scholarships and programmes for early promise to automatically qualify for entry into the UK using this route;
  • Review of the “Innovator” visa – with the aim of making it easier for those with the skills and experience to found an innovative business to obtain a visa;
  • A new “Global Business Mobility Visa” – designed to help overseas businesses establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK

The government announced that it plans to introduce the new “Elite” visa by March 2022 with the new “Global Mobility” visa by Spring 2022, with further information expected in July.

It has also promised to provide more practical support to small firms that are using the visa system for the first time and to modernise the sponsorship system to make it easier to use. Further details in this regard are expected in the summer. This will be welcome news to many employers who are having to register as a sponsor and use the system for the first time following the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of free movement.

Whilst the introduction of these visas may be welcome news to many employers who are concerned about attracting global talent following the pandemic and indeed talent from the EU following Brexit, it is worth noting that they are unlikely to assist all employers as they appear to be predominantly targeted at specific highly skilled jobs within the fast growth financial and tech sectors. The majority of employers are still likely to need to register as sponsors and hire migrant workers under the existing points-based system.

For further advice on any of the changes outlined above or on Covid-19 Coronavirus related employment queries please contact our Employment and HR Services team. 

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