This spring, several new visa routes will be introduced as part of the UK government’s points-based immigration system. These new routes fit within the general aim of UK immigration policy, which is to attract ‘the brightest and best’ individuals from around the world.
For HR practitioners and those involved in developing skilled workplaces, these changes offer a range of advantages.
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The focus now is on skills and talent, and far from being restrictive, the new points-based system is liberal. The new visas introduced this spring further enable workplaces to expand their skills base and plug gaps in their skill sets by seeking candidates from overseas.
One of the most useful visa routes for businesses with skills shortages will be the Scale Up route. This visa will be open to individuals with English language proficiency who have received a job offer from an eligible British business.
The minimum salary requirement will be £33,000. Those businesses employing workers under the Scale Up route must be able to prove an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20% and must have employed a minimum of 10 employees at the start of that period.
Previously most workplaces employing people from overseas used the Skilled Worker Visa route, which required workplaces to register with the Home Office and have specific monitoring protocols in place before they could hold a sponsor licence, which enabled them to employ foreign workers.
The Scale Up route does away with this layer of bureaucracy. Workplaces will not require a sponsor licence. Visa holders will also be able to switch jobs, giving them more freedom. The route will also lead to settlement in the UK, provided eligibility requirements are met.
Another new visa route to be aware of is the High Potential Individual Visa route, designed to entice graduates from top global universities.
Anyone in HR departments engaged in graduate programmes should be aware of this new visa, which will be open to individuals who have graduated from a government-approved list of overseas educational establishments.
The stated aim is to attract those who are highly skilled, academically elite and who seek to contribute positively to the UK economy. Qualifying applicants will not require a job offer in the UK and the route is expected to provide a pathway to settlement. For workplaces vying for the top UK graduates, this visa offers an international option.
Another new development is the extension of the Youth Mobility scheme. This popular route for young people between the ages of 18 and 30 is being extended to include citizens from Iceland and India. Those eligible for places on the scheme are allowed to work in the UK for up to two years.
Throughout the year there are also plans to streamline the sponsorship process, including faster end-to-end processing for employers and workers and better use of systems and data, so it should become easier for workplaces to recruit talent.
Throughout the year there will be further ad hoc role-specific visas introduced to allow workplaces to address shortages that cannot be filled by native workers. There have already been such schemes for the logistics and care sectors.
Yash Dubal is director of AY&J Solicitors
This article was first published in the March/April 2022 issue of HR magazine. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.