Immigration roundup – April 2022
27 April 2022
Learn about the latest changes regarding the Global Business Mobility immigration route, the delays and changing costs to UK visas, and the support available from the Home Office for Ukraine nationals in this month’s immigration roundup.
The Statement of Changes HC 1118 that was announced on 15 March 2022 partially came into force this month. Please see a summary below of the latest changes to take effect:
Spotlight on the new Global Business Mobility immigration route
On 11 April 2022, the new Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes launched consisting of sponsored routes for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK for specific business purposes.
Specifically the Home Office advise that:
The Global Business Mobility routes are for workers based outside the UK who are undertaking a temporary work assignment in the UK as a Senior or Specialist Worker, Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier or Secondment Worker.”
These routes do not lead to indefinite leave to remain and will only allow an individual to stay in the UK for a maximum of five years in any six-year period. There is no English language requirement and businesses can only sponsor individuals for jobs at a skill level of RQF level 6 (graduate equivalent) or above. Additionally, UK businesses receiving workers will need a sponsor licence and workers must be an existing employee with a minimum length of employment outside the UK. Assignments will be temporary but flexible and workers will be able to switch to permanent routes.
Some of the new GBM routes have replaced previously existing routes.
The Graduate Trainee route replaced the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route. The Graduate Trainee route is for workers on a graduate training course which will lead to a senior management or specialist position and are required to do a work placement in the UK. To qualify under this route, workers must be an existing employee with at least three months employment outside the UK and the pay must meet the general salary threshold of £23,100 and be at least 70% of the ‘going rate’ for the job. Also, workers must be undertaking a placement as part of a structured graduate training programme. Trainees can stay in the UK for up to one year and they can move between roles as part of the programme without needing to make a fresh application. Contrary to the previous Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route, sponsors are not limited to 20 graduate trainees per year.
Senior or Specialist Workers
The Senior Specialist Worker route replaced the broader Intra-Company Transfer route. The Senior Specialist route is for overseas employees who are being temporarily assigned to a linked entity in the UK. To qualify under this route, workers must be an existing employee with at least 12 months employment outside the UK and the pay must meet the general salary threshold of £42,400 and be at least the ‘going-rate’ for the job. Workers can stay for up to five years. However, workers earning over £73, 900 are exempt from the overseas work requirement and can stay for 9 years in 10. Businesses will need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge under this route.
The UK Expansion Worker route replaced the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route. The UK Expansion Worker route is for senior overseas employees who will be setting up the first UK subsidiary of an overseas entity. The current Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route will close to new applicants apart from Media Representatives. To qualify under this route, workers must be an existing employee with at least 12 months employment outside the UK and the pay must meet the general salary threshold of £42,400 and be at least the ‘going rate’ for the job. However, workers earning over £73,900 are exempt from the overseas work requirement. Workers can stay for up to one year with possibility to extend for a further year if required. Sponsors can send a maximum of five workers at a time.
The Service Supplier route replaces the Contractual Service Providers and Independent Professional Persons in the Temporary Worker – International Agreement route. To qualify under this route, workers must be delivering a service under a contract covered by one of the UK’s trade agreements and must be an existing employee with at least 12 months employment outside the UK. Also, workers must be nationals of a country covered by the relevant trade agreement and although jobs can be below RQF level 6, workers must show they have a degree and three to six years work experience. There is no specific salary requirement under this route and workers can stay for up to six months or one year depending on the trade agreement.
The Secondment Worker is a new route for overseas workers who are being temporarily seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employers. To qualify under this route, workers must be an existing employee with at least 12 months employment outside the UK and the secondment must be connected to a contract worth at least £50m. There is no salary requirement under this route and secondment workers can stay in the UK for up to one year with an option to extend for a further year where needed.
The UK Government intends to introduce further changes to the Rules as part of its “New Plan for Immigration” in hopes to develop a UK immigration system that will contribute to economic growth in the UK.
Right to work changes
As a reminder, beginning 6 April 2022, it is now mandatory for all UK employers to complete right to work checks using the Home Office’s online right to work checking system for those with Biometric Residence Permits (BRP), Biometric Residence Cards (BRC) and Frontier Worker Permits (FWP). Manual checks are no longer be accepted and employers that have not undertaken a Right to Work check in the prescribed manner, risk facing a civil penalty of up to £20,000 or criminal sanctions where they employ a worker that does not have the correct immigration permission.
To conduct an online right to work check, employees must generate a right to work share code online and share this with their employer, who will use this code and the employee’s date of birth to check their right to work online.
Additionally, beginning 6 April 2022, a new online system for carrying out right to work checks was introduced for British and Irish citizens with a valid passport (including an Irish passport card). This does not involve the use of a share code as stated above. Instead, individuals can upload images of their passports via a certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP) to verify their identity remotely and prove their eligibility to work.
Unlike the share code system which is free for employers to use, the IDSP system for British and Irish citizens may cost employers between £1.45 to £70 per check. However, employers are not mandated to use this system and can continue to carry out manual Right to Work checks on British and Irish citizens.
Importantly, the new rules relate only to Right to Work checks for employment commencing from 6 April 2022. Employers who have employed an individual and carried out a valid Right to Work checks before 6 April 2022 will not be required to carry out a retrospective check.
The Global Talent route
On 6 April 2022, changes were made to the criteria for endorsement and to the documentation required under the Global Talent route. The Global Talent route is for talented and promising individuals wishing to work in the UK in the field of science, digital technology, and arts and culture. The talented applicants are already leaders in their respective fields, whilst promised applicants have shown the potential to become leaders in their area.
The evidential requirements for digital technology endorsements were amended to include a requirement that exceptional promise applicants must be at an early stage in their career. This change was made to clarify that applicants at later stages of their careers should apply under the exceptional talent endorsement criteria.
Also the evidence of exceptional talent or promise was amended to cover achievements in the five years directly prior to the date of application. This change was intended to clarify that applicants should have recent experience and achievements that support their claim of exceptional talent or promise.
Furthermore, the details required within the letters of support from organisations within the digital technology field for applicants applying for a full peer review endorsement were clarified. This clarification was to ensure that the letters of support provide sufficient information to allow Tech Nation to consider the applicant’s claim of exceptional talent or promise, to clarify the evidential requirements for science, humanities, engineering and medicine endorsements, and to update the list of prizes in appendix global talent.
Visa processing times and fees
As the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine continues and the quantity of Ukrainian visa applications increase, processing times for work, study and family visa applications continue to see delays as the UKVI are prioritising processing Ukraine Family Scheme applications.
The average decision wait times for applications for leave to remain as a partner, parent or on the basis of your private life (10-year routes or 5-year parent route to settlement) has been updated from 10 months to 11 months.
The UKVI continue to work hard to reduce these extended waiting times, however the UKVI do advise that there may be circumstances which result in applications taking slightly longer.
Rise in UK visa fees
On 6 April 2022, the Home Office released an updated list of fees for immigration and nationality applications which shows that most visas and extension applications have increased by £15. Citizenship and sponsor licence rates however remain unchanged. A full list of old and new fees can be found on the Gov.uk website.
Changes to Sopra Steria appointment prices
From 4 May 2022, Sopra Steria appointment prices will increase with immediate effect – the price increases will be made in line with recent ONS announcement of a 6.2% inflationary uplift. The price increase will not however impact the volume of free of charge appointments.
‘No Time Limit’ fees
From 6 April 2022, it is now free of charge for those with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK to make a No Time Limit (NTL) application. An NTL application allows those who have old-style immigration documents or those who have lost their immigration documents, to upgrade to a Biometric Residence Permit card (BRP) which can be used to confirm their existing UK immigration status.
Previously, the cost of making a NTL application was £248.20, so it is a positive change that the Home Office have abolished such a fee.
On 6 April 2022, the Home Office updated their guidance regarding fees for Citizenship and the Right to Abode to highlight that there is no longer a fee to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.
Home Office support for Ukraine nationals
Concessions to the Skilled Worker route
- English language: The Home Office have confirmed that they will not be altering the Skilled Worker route to accommodate to Ukrainian nationals who cannot meet the English language requirement. Ukrainian nationals should instead use the Ukraine Scheme to come to the UK, a free of charge route which, unlike the Skilled Worker route, does not require that they work at a certain minimum skill level nor a minimum knowledge of the English language. The Home Office have advised that Ukrainian nationals can switch to the Skilled Worker route later, once they meet the English Language requirement and they have suitable employment with a licensed sponsor.
- Tuberculosis screening certificates: The Home Office have temporarily waived the requirements for a TB test certificates for Ukraine visa applicants due to the TB test facilities in Kyiv being closed. The Home Office recognise that screening for TB cannot reasonably take place.
- Criminal record certificates: Where UK visa applicants from Ukraine ordinarily require criminal records certificates, the Home Office have issued direction that they consider that it may not reasonably be practicable for Ukrainian applicants to obtain a certificate if:
- the applicant fled their country for humanitarian reasons, and it is not possible for them to re-establish contact with the relevant authorities; or
- there is international or internal armed conflict or there is, or has been, a humanitarian disaster (As such it is expected that the Home Office will use discretion in processing applications where a criminal record certificate would ordinarily be required but can no longer be provided.)
Ukraine Extension Scheme
From 3 May 2022, Ukrainian nationals with permission to stay in the United Kingdom on or before 18 March 2022 are eligible to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme. Partners and children of Ukrainian nationals can also apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme if they are already in the UK as their ‘dependants’. Ukrainian nationals with permission to stay in the UK which has expired since 1 January 2022, or they are a child born in the UK after 18 March 2022, are also eligible to apply to the Extension Scheme.
The Ukraine Extension Scheme allows Ukrainians in the United Kingdom to extend their visa or switch to another immigration route, where eligible, even if their visa does not normally allow them to do so.
Submitting biometric information
Ukrainian nationals will need to submit their biometrics within six months of arriving in the UK to extend their stay for up to three years and be issued with a BRP as evidence of their immigration status.
On 8 April 2022, the Home Office released an online form for Ukrainian nationals to complete to start the process of providing biometric information.
Ukrainian nationals will be provided with further information explaining how to submit their biometric information once the Home Office have received a completed form. Ukrainian nationals may be asked to provide their biometric data via the UK Immigration: ID Check app using a digitised facial image or by visiting one of the UKVI application centres in the UK to provide a facial photograph and fingerprints.
Ukrainian applicants are not required to submit their biometric information as soon as they reach the UK, however they will need to make sure that they provide their biometrics six months before their granted leave comes to an end.
Ukraine nationals travelling to the UK with pets
The Home Office have confirmed that Ukrainians travelling from Ukraine to the UK can bring their pet dog, cat or ferret without it going into quarantine if it has:
- been vaccinated against rabies and has had a blood test 30 days later to confirm it has worked
- been microchipped
- a pet passport or health certificate
- had tapeworm treatment.
However, if the pet does not meet these requirements and is either still in Ukraine or left Ukraine less than 30 days ago, then they will go into quarantine when it arrives in the UK.
Before travelling to the UK, Ukrainians can call the Animal and Plant Agency (APHA) on +44 3000 200 301 (option 2) or email [email protected] to find out what to do.
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 April 2022.