March 25, 2022

Statement of Changes March 2022 – A Corporate Immigration Perspective

The U.K. Government released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 15 March, 2022. The government believes these changes to be an important part of the post-covid ‘Plan for Growth’ The changes are also being implemented with the intention of simplifying the U.K. Immigration System. Further simplified rules will be published later this year, the government intends to consolidate the Immigration Rules in 2023.

The changes will take effect on various dates starting from 6 April, 2022.

The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of some of the main changes which will be implemented, specifically in relation to corporate immigration.

Intra-Company Transfer / Global Business Mobility

The Global Business Mobility route has been introduced as a replacement for the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route. The changes to this route come into force beginning 11 April, 2022 and any applications submitted thereafter will be considered under these new rules. The government hopes this repackaged route and its new categories will remove inconsistencies and simplify the process of identifying the correct immigration route for businesses and their employees.

As with the current ICT route, the Global Business Mobility route is not a means of obtaining settlement in the U.K. Applicants to this route are exempt from the English proficiency requirement found in other routes.

Employers seeking to sponsor individuals under the Global Business Mobility route must hold a Sponsor Licence with permission to sponsor individuals under the relevant category. All roles sponsored under this route must be from an eligible occupation code and meet the minimum skill level requirement of RQF Level six (degree level). A new list of “going rates” (minimum salaries) will be released for the Global Business Mobility occupation codes.

A “sponsor group” means the sponsor and any business or organisation that is linked to the sponsor by common ownership or control, or by a joint venture relevant to the employee’s role. The sponsor group must be part of the Sponsor Licence.

Successful applicants to any of the Global Business Mobility categories will be able to bring dependent family members (spouses/partners and children under 18).

The Global Business Mobility route will consist of five total visa categories, including:

  1. Senior Executives or Specialists: For senior or specialist employees being assigned to a U.K. entity linked to an overseas business. The applicant must have been an employee of the sponsor group overseas for a minimum of 12 months, unless they qualify as a high earner.

    The general salary threshold will be at least £42,400 per year or the occupation code’s going rate, whichever is higher. To qualify as a high earner, the applicant’s salary must equal or exceed £73,900.

    Employees working in the U.K. under this route will be able to hold the permission for up to five years in every six-year period, unless a high earner, who will be able to hold the permission for nine years out of every 10-year period. 


  2. Graduate Trainee: For individuals undertaking a placement in the U.K. as a part of a structured training programme. The applicant must have been an employee of the sponsor group overseas for a minimum of three months.

    The general salary requirement will be £23,100 per year or 70% of the occupation code’s going rate, whichever is higher. However, jobs within the health or education occupation codes must be salaried at 100% of the going rate.

    Graduate Trainees working in the U.K. under this route will be able to hold the permission for up to five years in every six-year period.


  3. U.K. Expansion Worker: A category for senior managers or specialist employees sent to the U.K. to undertake work relating to the expansion of the business into the U.K., the route is only to be used where the U.K. business has yet to commence trading. This will replace the Sole Representative route.

    The general salary threshold will be at least £42,400 per year or the occupation code’s “going rate,” whichever is higher.

    The applicant must have been employed by the sponsor group overseas for a minimum of 12 months unless they are considered a high earner, or they are establishing a U.K. Branch or subsidiary of the sponsor group under the U.K.-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

    Expansion Workers will be able to hold the permission for up to five years in every six-year period.


  4. Service Supplier: For employees of overseas service suppliers or self-employed independent professionals who need to undertake an assignment in the U.K. to provide services covered by one of the U.K.’s international trade agreements.

    The contract between the sponsor and the overseas service provider must be registered with the Home Office and must be for a service covered by one of the U.K.’s international trade agreements, e.g., U.K.-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. A full list of U.K.’s trade agreements can be found on the gov.uk website.

    The applicant must have a university degree or equivalent level technical qualification, exceptions have been made for some specific circumstances, e.g., where the role is related to fashion and modelling or entertainment services. The applicant will be required to have been employed by the overseas business for a minimum of 12 months. The applicant must also have professional experience in the sector of at least three years or six years under some circumstances, e.g., where the service supplier is self-employed.

    A business sponsoring an employee as a Service Supplier (or a self-employed individual) will not be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

    A Service Supplier will be able to remain in the U.K. for up to five-years in every six-year period.


  5. Secondment Worker: A category for secondments of overseas workers to a U.K. business in connection with select high value contracts for goods and investment from an overseas business to a U.K. business. This route cannot be used for routine provision of resources or services to a third party.

    The applicant will be required to have been employed by the overseas business for a cumulative period of at least 12 months. The job must be an eligible job and above the minimum skill level however there will be no general minimum salary or ‘going rate’ requirement for route.

    An employer sponsoring an employee as a Secondment Worker will be exempt from the obligation to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

    Secondment workers will be able to hold the permission for up to five years in every six-year period.

    The contract between the sponsor and the overseas service provider must be registered with the Home Office.

Scale-Up Visa

This route is designed to reward businesses who have recently experienced sustained growth by allowing them access to an expedited process of obtaining an A-rated Sponsor Licence. To be eligible, the business must demonstrate annualised turnover and/or employee growth of at least 20% for the preceding three-year period and must have employed at least ten people at the beginning of the three-year period. The Scale-Up visa route will be open from the 22 August, 2022.

A business with a Scale-Up licence will benefit from exemption from the obligation to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

The occupations must be of a graduate level which is RQF level six, rather than the minimum RQF level three that is required for Skilled Worker occupations. Individuals sponsored under this route must receive a minimum salary of £33,000 or the going rate for the occupation code, whichever is higher. Applicants must meet the English language proficiency requirement and the finance requirement, although this can be certified by the sponsor.

This route has the potential to attract technology firms and other business that operate in highly technical fields. The government estimates that 34,000 businesses will be eligible to apply for this type of licence.

Applicants will initially be granted leave for a period of two years. A Scale-Up employee’s permission to remain in the U.K. will only be linked to their employment for the initial six months of their residence under the route, thereafter the employee may pursue alternative full-time employment of any skill level and will be “unsponsored.”

Extensions and settlement will be an option through the Scale Up route. To be eligible for an extension, the applicant must demonstrate they received employment earnings of at least £33,000 for at least 50% of their time under the route. The Scale-Up visa holder will be able to apply for settlement after having completed five years of continuous residence in the U.K.; the period can include time accumulated in other visa categories. To be eligible for settlement, the applicant must demonstrate they have continuously received a salary of at least £33,000 (or the going rate for the occupation code, whichever is higher) throughout 24 months of the three years preceding the date of the application, the qualifying period.  An “unsponsored” Scale-Up visa holder may submit an extension and a settlement application provided they meet the minimum earning requirement, regardless of whether they are employed by a Scale-Up Sponsor Licence holder or not.

There is no maximum amount of time an individual can hold a Scale-Up visa.

Successful applicants will be able to bring dependent family members (spouses/partners and children under 18), as in other work routes.

High Potential Individual

This route is designed to attract to the U.K. talented individuals from across the world and to enhance the talent pool from which U.K. based companies can hire employees. The route will be open to those graduating from top global non-U.K. universities and those who were awarded degree certificates, during the five-year period preceding the date of the application, equivalent to a U.K. Bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. The route will be open from the 30 May, 2022. The Home Office will create a list of eligible universities, the list will be updated annually. To form part of the Home Office’s “Global Universities List,”’ the institutions must be included in at least two of the following raking systems: 

  1. Times Higher Education World University Rankings
  2. Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings
  3. The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Individuals who submit successful applications will be granted a permission for two years (or three years if they also have a Ph.D). The individuals will be permitted to enter the U.K. without a job offer, they will be able to switch to other work visa routes once they are able to gain suitable employment.

Applicants will also have to satisfy a financial requirement by demonstrating they have available funds of at least £1,270.

Applicants to this route must also meet the English language proficiency requirement.

Extensions and settlement are not options under this route, the individuals must switch into other employment visa routes, e.g., Skilled Worker or Scale-Up visas, before the expiry of their permission.

Successful applicants will be able to bring dependent family members (spouses/partners and children under 18), as in other work routes.

The Statement of Changes is only an introduction to the changes which will later be implemented, the final details of the new routes are yet to be published. Various elements of these new routes need further clarification, e.g., how will business be able to evidence their growth for the purpose of the scale up visa? We expect many elements of the ICT category to remain relevant to the new Global Business Mobility route, especially for the Senior Executives or Specialist route and the Graduate Trainee route. For categories which are completely new, we eagerly await the publication of the definitive rules and we are excited to see which of these new routes proves to be useful and popular with businesses.

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