Part 1 of this insight focused some of the current immigration routes for consideration by Scottish employers to mitigate the Scottish labour shortage. Part 2 of this insight explores some of the new routes expected to be opened up by Spring 2022.
Global Business Mobility Route
In spring 2022, the Home office is due to launch the new Global Business Mobility route. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) put forward their recommendations for the Home Office to consider and although the exact scope and detail of the route are yet to be confirmed, the proposed reforms could make it easier and/or cheaper for foreign businesses to temporarily send highly skilled workers to the UK to build and expand their business.
The Global Business Mobility route is supposed to reform the following visa provisions into a single route: Intra-Company Transfer visa, Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa, Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa and the Temporary Work – International Agreement visa. Overall, the route is supposed to help bring innovation and new skills to the UK workforce.
A proposed change that could have an impact on the Scottish workforce is the change to Intra-Company Transferees (ICT) under the points-based system which enable specialists and more senior workers to be transferred to the UK. MAC has recommended that the ICT route becomes a settlement route and that time spent on the ICT route can also count towards settlement in other routes.
However, gaining settlement status through this route is likely to make a minimal impact on Scotland’s overall labour shortage as the requirements for this route retain a minimum skill requirement of Level 6 (bachelor’s degree equivalent) and a substantial minimum salary threshold increased from £41,500 to £42,500.
This visa targets high growth companies with an average revenue or employment growth of 20% or more over 3 years. The business must also have at least 10 employees at the start of the period and the idea is that visas can be fast-tracked under this category. There will be a minimum salary requirement of £33,000 and an English language proficiency requirement. What could make this route attractive is the fact that the employee is permitted to change jobs and their employer, and the visa is likely to be extendable making the prospect of settlement more likely. Furthermore it is targeted at growth businesses who will need highly skilled talent and quickly!
High potential visa
The Government have planned to encourage talent to come to the UK through immigration by a new visa route for high potential individuals to come to the UK. The details surrounding this plan are not yet substantiated but, given eligibility looks to narrow applicants to only those who have graduated from a top global university. This is unlikely to fill the substantial labour gap but may make migration more attractive to those who have not yet got a job offer to qualify for the Skilled Worker visa route. It looks and sounds very similar to the category which originally was brought in back in 2008 but let’s watch this space!
Temporary Work - International Agreement Visa (formerly part of Tier 5)
This strand has been expanded as part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (as part of the Brexit negotiations) and it requires sponsorship; however, it comes with a health warning and is complex. The most relevant category to businesses is through the individual providing a service under a contract as a “contractual service supplier” or “independent professional”. These include contractual services such as accounting and architectural services and computer-related services by an independent professional. The individual can generally stay for 6 months in any 12 months with some exceptions. It requires detailed consideration as the eligibility requirements are onerous so if an employer is considering using it, we would recommend you take advice. You can find further information about this route from our Webinar on Frontier Workers and International Agreements: Frontier Workers – what the new guidance means for you (shoosmiths.co.uk).
Youth mobility (formerly part of Tier 5)
The Youth Mobility Scheme visa is another route that enables 18- to 30-year-olds to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. The individual can enter the UK and leave any time during which their visa is valid. The benefit of this scheme is that the UK employer is not required to sponsor the individual. Applications are only taken from citizens of Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand and San Marino. However, there is also the opportunity to apply to the scheme if the individual is selected from the Mobility Scheme ballot and has nationality from any of the following countries: Hong Kong, Japan, Southern Korea, or Taiwan. There have been discussions of the scheme being extended to European countries but there is no certainty that this will happen.
In the UK Government’s policy paper published on 26 August 2021, it stated that the proposed changes from spring 2022 (and those already made to Skilled Workers) “will enable employers to have an overseas worker ready to start work faster than in any other G20 country.” Whilst the current system and new routes are a welcomed start in mitigating the Scottish labour shortage by attracting the ‘brightest and best’, there will be a concern that the shortage of lower-skilled workers, who are just as important to businesses and Scottish citizens, is not being adequately addressed.