Immigration Monthly Update – June 2022


20 June 2022

Birkett’s Sacha Wooldridge provides a concise round up on the latest UK immigration and visa updates for June 2022

Business Immigration: Sponsor Licence Holders – Home Office compliance checks

The UK Government has resumed its programme of immigration compliance checks and has increased its focus on businesses who employ non-UK nationals. Consequently, all Sponsor Licence holders can expect to receive a Home Office compliance visit or call at any time – often without notice. Recently, site visits have been increasing in number, as the Government works to identify and remove illegal workers and penalise Sponsor Licence holders who are not complying with their duties. As a result of non-compliance, businesses can have their licence revoked and consequently lose their skilled workers resulting in them being prevented from hiring skilled workers in the future. It is therefore important that all HR policies and procedures related to Home Office compliance are up-to-date.

In particular we have seen the Home Office recently contacting sponsors via phone and e-mail to remind them that, any sponsor licence users should ensure that they log into the  Sponsor Management System at least once a month,  and that anyone who leaves the business has their user permission deactivated/removed.

The Home Office administer a zero tolerance policy for non-compliance and illegal working. The courts are often reluctant to overturn Home Office revocations where there has been a clear breach of compliance.

Please get in touch if you would like a mock audit compliance check, refresher training, guidance or support on your policies, processes and record keeping.

Visa processing times

The UK are continuing to experience significant disruption to visa processing times, for both in country and out of country applications, as a consequence of the UKVI prioritising the processing of Ukraine Scheme applications. It is unknown at present when ‘normal’ processing times will resume. Work visas are currently taking 8-12 weeks to process (compared to the pre-Ukraine crisis processing times of circa 3 weeks)

High Potential Individual Visa route launch

On 30th May 2022, the High Potential Individual Visa route launched for individuals who are at the early stage of their careers and who have demonstrated that they have high potential to benefit the UK workforce. To qualify, applicants need to meet the following requirements:

They must have been awarded a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD from an institution included in the list of top 50 global universities for their year of graduation and their qualification must have been awarded no more than 5 years before the date of application. The Home Office have released the Global Universities list for the last 6 years.

They must also meet the English language requirement i.e. speak, read, and write English at the intermediate level B1 and the financial requirement.

Successful applicants will be given a 2-year work visa (3-year for those with a PhD) and can switch to other long-term employment visas, if they meet the eligibility requirements. The High Potential Individual Visa route does not lead to settlement.

The cost of the High Potential Individual visa is £715 and subject to the immigration health surcharge (IHS).

This route is a positive addition to UK visas available as it offers an additional avenue to recruit skilled workers without incurring the higher fees to sponsor a Skilled Worker visa. It is also beneficial as it offers a route for self-employed persons to come to the UK to live and work.

Scale-up visa launch

The new Scale-up Visa route is due to launch on 22nd August 2022.

This new visa route will enable talented individuals with high levels of skills and qualifications, who are recruited by a UK Scale-up sponsor, to enter the UK with the anticipation that they will assist with the growth of Scale-up business.  

For companies to be registered as a Scale-Up sponsor, they must have an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous three-year period in staffing or turnover, and a minimum of ten employees at the start of the three-year period.

The applicant’s sponsored role must be RQF level 6 or above (graduate level or above) and pay £33,000 or the going rate, whichever is higher.

This visa route will lead towards settlement in the UK and family members will be able to apply to join the main applicant as their dependents.

For more information on any of the visas discussed in this article please contact our Immigration lawyer Sacha Wooldridge.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at June 2022.

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