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Statement of changes HC 1118: new and improved UK work visas
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No set of amendments to the Immigration Rules is complete without tweaks and additions to the ever-expanding Points Based Immigration System, and statement of changes HC 1118 is no exception. In addition to the changes already outlined by CJ, there are a number of important changes to existing routes, as well as the introduction of several brand new routes.
New High Potential Individual route
A new visa for people to come and work in the UK without a job offer was advertised by the Home Office last summer, although the final product differs slightly from what we were promised.
The main requirements of Appendix High Potential Individual are:
HPI 5.1. The applicant must, in the 5 years immediately before the date of the application, have been awarded an overseas degree level academic qualification which Ecctis confirms meets, or exceeds, the recognised standard of a UK bachelor’s or UK postgraduate degree.
HPI 5.2. The institution at which the applicant was awarded the degree in HPI 5.1 must appear on the Global Universities List in respect of the date the applicant was awarded the degree.
HPI 5.3 The date the applicant was awarded the degree will be the date as confirmed by Ecctis.
“Global Universities List” is defined as:
the list of universities published by the Home Office on the Gov.uk website, which is compiled on an annual basis and consists of all non-UK institutions that are ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems:
1. Times Higher Education World University Rankings; and
2. Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; and
3. The Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Other key features include:
- English language ability is required (level B1 in speaking, listening, reading, writing)
- A maintenance requirement applies for anyone applying for entry clearance, or permission to stay where they have lived in the UK for less than 12 months (£1,270 held for 28 days)
- If the qualifying degree is a PhD, the applicant will be granted three years of permission; in all other cases, it is two years
- Partners and children can be sponsored as dependants
Despite being previously advertised as a route to settlement, this route does not, in fact, lead to settlement.
This route goes live at 9am on 30 May 2022.
New Scale-up route
This is another brand new route aimed at attracting global talent [surely “the best and brightest” – Ed.]. As the explanatory memorandum says:
Applicants in this route must have a sponsored job offer from an authorised UK scale-up company. To register for this route, a company will need to demonstrate that they have an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3-year period in terms of turnover or staffing. Companies will also need to have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this 3-year period.
The job being offered must be skilled to graduate level (RQF 6 and equivalent) and be paid at least £33,000 per year or the going rate for the particular occupation, whichever is higher.
The slight quirk is that while the initial application requires a sponsor, extensions don’t. When it comes to the unsponsored extension, the main requirement is that the applicant earned the appropriate salary during their stint as a sponsored Scale-up worker.
SCU 4.2. An applicant may only make a Sponsored Application… if the conditions for making an Unsponsored Application in SCU 4.3. are not met.
SCU 4.3. An applicant must make an Unsponsored Application… if they have been employed as a Scale-up Worker by a sponsor for at least 6 months in a previous permission on the Scale-up route and –
(a) the applicant has permission as a Scale-up Worker on the date of application; or
(b) the applicant last had permission as a Scale-up Worker and
(i) if the applicant is applying for entry clearance, that permission expired less than 6 months before the date of application; or
(ii) if the applicant is applying for permission to stay, paragraph 39E applies.
In either case, there is an English requirement (B1: speaking, listening, reading, writing) and a maintenance requirement (if not exempt, £1270 held for 28 days).
Successful applicants are initially granted permission for two years, which can be extended for another three years.
This is a route to settlement and applicants can sponsor partners and children as dependants.
The route goes live on 22 August 2022.
Newish Global Business Mobility routes
This five-headed hydra either replaces and simplifies existing routes, or introduces new ones. In summary, the Global Business Mobility category consists of:
- Senior or Specialist Worker: this route is for “senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas”. Replaces the Intra-Company Transfer route.
- Graduate Trainee: 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 UK”. Replaces the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.
- UK Expansion Worker: for “senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion in the UK”. Replaces the Sole Representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route (whilst keeping the slightly more esoteric provisions for media representatives)
- Service Supplier: for “contractual service suppliers” and “self-employed independent professionals” based overseas who undertake an assignment in the UK by virtue of an international trade commitment. Replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional provisions in the International Agreement route (whilst keeping the rest of the provisions).
- Secondment Worker: a brand new route for workers being seconded to the UK “as part of a high value contract or investment by their overseas employer”.
Despite recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee, none of these five routes lead to settlement. In the case of the UK Expansion Worker, this represents a step backwards: the visa it is due to replace – Sole Representative – currently leads to settlement. (Existing sole reps will be permitted to settle under transitional provisions, assuming all other requirements are met.)
These changes take effect from 9am on 11 April 2022.
Extensions on the Innovator route
As with the Hong Kong BNO route, changes are being brought in to allow Innovator visa holders to be granted further permission to stay if they do not qualify for settlement:
INN 22.1A. If the requirements for settlement are not met, but the decision maker believes the applicant is likely to meet all the suitability and eligibility requirements for permission to stay as an Innovator, the application will be varied by the Secretary of State and instead be considered as an application for permission to stay on the Innovator route. Where this happens:
(a) no additional application fee for permission to stay will be required and the settlement application fee will not be refunded; and
(b) the Secretary of State will write to the applicant informing them of this variation, and if required, will request the applicant pay the Immigration Health Charge.
This change takes effect from 6 April 2022.
Minor Student tweaks
As well as the change allowing students to work once they have made a Skilled Worker or Graduate route application, there are a few more minor tweaks.
One relates to the financial requirement in Appendix Student:
ST.12.7. If the funds held in the applicant’s account on the date of decision fall substantially below the level of funds required at ST.12.3, the decision maker must be satisfied that the spent funds have been
in part used to pay outstanding course fees or a deposit for accommodationused to pay outstanding course fees, a deposit for accommodation or other costs associated with the proposed course of study in the UK.
There is also an amendment clarifying academic progression where an applicant leaves with a lower level qualification of an integrated programme:
ST 27.3. A Student may begin studying on a new course with their current student sponsor if…
(c) the new course is not at a lower qualification level than the course the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned for unless they were last granted permission to study an integrated master’s or PhD programme and will now be studying on the lower level qualification of that programme;
These changes go live from 6 April 2022.
The Appendix Graduate rules are being updated to reflect the COVID-19 policy of permitting students to enter this route, even if undertaking remote learning, from 21 June 2021 to 6 April 2022.
The explanatory memorandum also states that, unusually, Graduates will be allowed to apply without a passport:
Graduate applicants used to have to provide a passport or other travel document to satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality. The rules have been updated to allow an applicant to provide a non-travel document, i.e. a Biometric Residence Permit, as proof of identity and nationality.
The statement of changes does not actually do this. It replaces the existing text with identical text, which appears to be an error that I would expect to see remedied in the next statement of changes.
The intended change has been made for applications from dependants:
GR 9.2. An application for permission to stay as a partner or child of a Graduate must meet all the following requirements…
(c) the applicant must have provided a passport or other
traveldocument which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality.
These changes go live from 6 April 2022.
Minor changes are being introduced to bring the going rates for some health and education occupations up to date with the current pay scales.
The Skilled Worker settlement provisions are also updated to add Scale-up to the list of types of permission an applicant might use to make up the five years required to settle in this route.
The former changes take effect from 9am on 11 April 2022, and the latter from 22 August 2022 (when the Scale-up route goes live).
Changes are being made to the endorsement criteria and evidentiary requirements “to reflect feedback and recommendations from endorsing bodies”.
GTE 7.2. The applicant must provide all of the following with the Tech Nation online application form:
(a) a CV with career and publication history included; and
(b) 3 dated letters of recommendation from 3 different well-established organisations acknowledged as experts in the digital technology field supporting the Global Talent application, which include all of the following:
(i) how the author knows the applicant; and
(ii) the applicant’s achievements in the relevant field; and
(iii) how the author considers the applicant shows exceptional talent or promise; and
(iv) the contribution the applicant would make to the UK digital economy.
The explanatory memo outlines some other changes to the “evidential requirements for digital technology endorsements” specifically. These changes go live from 6 April 2022.