Most of the business headlines about Rishi Sunak's budget have focused on taxes and the package on offer for UK businesses, hit hard by the double whammy of Covid-19 and the impact of the end of the Brexit transition period. But for business immigration solicitors, the key takeaways from 3 March's much-awaited announcements are undoubtedly the new immigration routes for the highly skilled and planned changes to existing business immigration routes.
The Elite visa
The government hopes the new Elite visa announced in the budget will enable the UK to attract and retain skilled globally mobile talent, with the end product of driving innovation and supporting UK jobs and economic growth.
The new Elite points-based visa, primarily aimed at the financial technology sector, is to be introduced by March 2022. A scaleup stream will enable those qualifying as elite highly skilled migrant workers to enter the UK on a fast-track basis.
The Global Talent visa
Reform is planned to the Global Talent visa to enable prestigious prize winners (of the The Nobel prize, an Emmy or other highly select awards contained in a revised Global Talent Visa appendix) to avoid the need for endorsement by a relevant industry body. This group will be able to fast-track their visa application straight to the Home Office approval stage.
The Innovator visa
The Innovator Visa is to be reviewed in a sign that perhaps the government accepts that the stringent business eligibility criteria for the Innovator visa is in itself a barrier to the UK achieving its goal of attracting the brightest and best to set up business here. There is no mention of changes to its sister visa, the Start-up visa.
The Global Business Mobility visa
The government said that by spring 2022, a new Global Business Mobility visa will be launched for overseas businesses that want to establish a presence in in the UK or transfer staff to the UK. This sounds rather like the existing Sole Representative visa, but if the Global Business Mobility visa replaces the current Sole Representative visa, there may be more than a simple name change.
The Skilled Worker visa and the Sponsor Licence
With the end of free movement for EU nationals, many UK business owners are having to apply for their first Home Office-issued Sponsor Licence to sponsor overseas workers on Skilled Worker visas. The government plan to provide practical support to SMEs who are using the visa system for the first time and to modernise the sponsor system and reduce bureaucracy. A delivery roadmap is expected by summer 2021.
Preparing for change
Our business immigration solicitor Rashid Uzzaman comments: ‘Business immigration lawyers are sensing a real weariness on the part of UK business owners at the thought of more business immigration reforms. After all the points-based immigration system was only introduced on 1 January 2021. While these immigration reforms are intended to make it easier for businesses to sponsor overseas nationals on Skilled Worker visas, and for overseas-based entrepreneurs to start an innovative business in the UK, the timing of this announcement wasn’t universally welcomed.
‘The important point from the budget and the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, published on 4 March 2021, is that while immigration changes are on their way they could work to your advantage. Our business immigration team at Harper James Solicitors will continue to highlight the key immigration changes that may assist your business or help with your business immigration plans.’
Could your business benefit from up-to-date guidance about these planned immigration changes? Get in touch for legal support from our business immigration experts.