On 25th August the UK Home Office published its official immigration statistics for the twelve months ending June 2022.
What are the headline visa numbers?
Of the visas granted in the 12 months to June 2022, 45% were for visits, 24% were for study, 16% for jobs, and 16% for family and other reasons (including leave given under the Ukraine Schemes and British National (Overseas) route).
Has the number of work visas granted increased?
In the year ending June 2022, there were 331,233 work-related visas issued (including dependants). This is a 72% increase compared with the figures for 2019. Compared to 2019, there was an increase in all categories of work visas. This is the most work visas that have been awarded in any 12-month period since the data series began in 2005.
According to the latest data, a total of 87,266 Skilled Worker visas were granted. Since their initial introduction in December 2020, the number of these visas granted has increased consistently. The Skilled Worker visa has significantly lower entry requirements than the previous Tier 2 (General) visa, which has allowed many more companies to employ workers from overseas. A number of our clients have also started to use the Skilled Worker route as an alternative to the ICT route (now called the “Senior or Specialist Worker” route) due to the flexibility it offers.
Why are work visa numbers increasing?
The most obvious answer is that following the relaxation of covid-related travel restrictions, there are many more people now looking to travel. In our experience, this is not simply a result of people who had intended to travel during 2020/2021 and were unable to, but also businesses now taking the opportunity to expand into the UK. Again, recovery from covid restrictions is one aspect of expansion plans now taking effect, but there is also the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU which has led to companies opening offices in the UK where before they may have only had an office on mainland Europe.
Another factor leading to increased visa numbers is also directly related to the departure from the EU: new EU nationals wishing to work in the UK, now need to apply for visas. EU nationals made up 10% of the new work visas granted in the last year.
Other than visitors, students made up the biggest percentage of visas granted in the last year, demonstrating the continuing attractiveness of the UK’s education system to international students. The number of student visas issued was the highest on record, surpassing pre-covid levels. This coincides with the recent introduction of the Graduate visa, which allows international students to stay in the UK normally for an additional 2 years after their studies. During this time they can work in any role, without needing sponsorship from a company holding a Sponsor Licence. This, therefore, represents a significant opportunity for all businesses operating within the UK to take advantage of a substantial international talent pool that can be recruited from. Whilst no Sponsor Licence is necessary to employ someone holding a Graduate visa, those companies that do hold a Licence will no doubt be especially attractive to these potential candidates, as it gives them the security of knowing they may be able to continue their role under a Skilled Worker visa when the time comes.
How 3CS can help
For further information on work visas, sponsor licences, or any other immigration matter please contact a member of our team.