Published recently are the latest changes to the Immigration Rules, coming into force in April. The full document for the changes runs to over 200 pages, but we have produced a summary of the key changes which we believe may be of most interest to the majority of our clients:
− The ICT (Intra Company Transfer) route will now form part of a group of visas that are collectively referred to as “Global Business Mobility” visas, and the usual ICT visa will now be called “Senior/Specialist Worker” visa (although we expect in practice it will still be referred to as ICT since an abbreviation of SSW would risk being confused with the SW currently used for the Skilled Worker route). However, there are no significant changes to the requirements for ICT applications other than an increase to the minimum salary, which will now be £42,400 per year.
− The Sole Representative route is replaced by the UK Expansion Worker visa, which represents a significant change compared to previous requirements:
- A form of preliminary Sponsor Licence will be required, although at the time of writing we still await the practical details from the Home Office on the procedure for this;
- Applicant must have worked for the group overseas for at least 12 months unless they qualify as a High Earner, or are a Japanese national establishing a UK entity under the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement;
- It will now be necessary to choose a SOC code from the Home Office list, and pay a salary of at least £42,400;
- Maximum stay as a UK Expansion Worker will be 2 years, but it is possible then to transfer into either ICT/ Skilled Worker;
- This visa type does not lead to settlement (unlike the previous Sole Representative visa).
− The new High Potential Individual route is very similar to the Graduate visa route (often referred to as the Post Study Work visa) but is for graduates from top international universities outside the UK. Such individuals will be able to come to the UK to work, without the need for a Sponsor.
In addition to the changes to the Immigration Rules, we await a range of updated official policy Guidance documents from the Home Office which will give further information on the practicalities of applying for the above routes, including documentary evidence requirements, etc.
For more information on available visa options, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team.