Lawyer Monthly - March 2022

EXPERT INSIGHT 41 MAR 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM sponsors to follow a revamped plan and comply with the new changes. The main goal behind making these changes was to improve and modernise the system of sponsorship in the UK to better enable foreign employees to commence their duties as soon as they can, without delays. It is also worth mentioning the new ‘Scale-up’ visa. This route was initially announced in the Spring Budget, with a policy paper entitled ‘UK Innovation Strategy: Leading the future by creating it’. The new Scale-up visa was included as part of its Innovation Strategy, aimed at “opening the UK’s borders to top talent”. The route will be open to people who have a job offer and a salary of minimum £33,000 from a “scale-up” company without the organisation needing to obtain a sponsorship licence. To provide a job offer to these highly qualified candidates, a company or organisation should have an annual average revenue and employment growth rate of more than 20% over a three-year period and a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this threeyear period. The new route enables higher-skilled applicants to apply for a fast-track visa, ensuring greater flexibility in changing employers and access to settled status in the UK after meeting the requirements. The circumstances leading to sponsorship change in the UK In its previous incarnation as the Tier 2 sponsor licence, the sponsorship system helped UK HR departments to hire employees based on their needed skills and qualifications. According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been an increase of 9% among firms seeking to sponsor new employees as part of their teams. As of 2021, there were more than 33,952 UK-registered organisations interested in hiring new talent from overseas. Since this number is likely to increase in the coming decade, there is a vital need to improve and streamline the immigration process to help individuals enter the country. Therefore, the 2021 guidelines and processes for obtaining a sponsor licence have been changed. Moreover, in recent years and especially during the pandemic, it has been observed that the demand for skilled workers increased, driving demand for foreign and Irish workers to meet firms’ growth and enhancement goals. Once an organisation is able to sponsor a deserving individual, skilled people can join new jobs in the UK without hurdles. The major changes outlined above were made to the licence policy with the shift to a new ‘skilled worker’ route from the former ‘Tier 2’ path. The new route is less restrictive compared to its processor. Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns in the UK, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) issued a report on the impact of the pandemic on employment status. This has meant that that changes to business routes could be implemented by the MAC in 2021 after the first few waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. Publication of the new plan According to LNB News, in June 2021 the Home Secretary of the UK presented a “legal migration and border control strategy statement” before Parliament to legalise the new migration rules for 2022 and onwards, with the aim of ensuring a digital-by-default system by the start of 2024. There were several major announcements made for the purpose of making changes to the existing rules. For example, new categories have been defined in the new immigration laws to define the entry and stay of immigrant workers in the United Kingdom. This refers to a brand-new points-based system introduced in spring 2022 with particular consideration being given to highly educated, skilled, or competent employees. This means that employees who are already holding a job in the UK with a skilled worker rank will have access to a fast-track system. Moreover, the ‘’Innovator’ route has also been changed and improved. The new Innovator Endorsement Model has been enacted with an aim to promote the new innovator business model and thereby tap into the growth potential of the country. For this purpose, an ‘International Sportsperson’ system will be introduced that will likely eliminate the existing Tier 5 and Tier 2 sport routes. Moreover, changes in the Global Business Mobility route will also take place. This shows that the immigration department is extremely keen to revise its existing routes no later than spring 2022. The Migration Advisory Committee will also provide more recommendations regarding intra-company routes prevailing in the country so far. Furthermore, arrangements and amendments have also been made to the existing system in order to ensure that any overseas business routes are optimised for establishing branches in the UK. The online application process has also been improved to ensure the convenience of employees. Applications can be made using a digital-default system available online, According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been an increase of 9% among firms seeking to sponsor new employees as part of their teams.

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