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Autumn Budget: 2021 Key Immigration Reforms

8 November 2021

In May 2021, the Home Office published a policy paper which stated that in Spring 2022, ‘there will be a new unsponsored points-based route to attract the brightest and best to the UK, with a particular emphasis on the very high skilled and academically elite.  Within this route, we will create a ‘scale up’ stream that will allow those with a job offer at the required skill level from a recognised UK scale up to qualify for a fast-track visa without a need for sponsorship.’

In the budget in Autumn 2021, Rishi Sunak made further reference to this new visa as well and announced further changes. The Budget Report confirms that the government is implementing change to the UK’s immigration system to help attract highly skilled people to the UK.

What is the new Scale-Up Visa?

The budget identifies the necessity for innovative businesses to have access to the talent and skills they need. The report confirms the introduction of the new scale-up, high potential individual and global business mobility visas to attract highly skilled people and support inward investment. The aim of the visa is to make it easier and quicker for companies experiencing rapid growth (i.e. in the scale-up phase) to hire the best skilled labour from around the world.

The scale-up route will allow talented individuals to come to the UK if they hold a high skilled job offer from a qualifying scale-up at the required salary level, without the need for sponsorship.

It will launch in Spring 2022 and will be open to applicants who pass the language requirement and have a high skilled job offer from an eligible business with a salary of at least £33,000.

Both the Skilled Worker visa and the Scale up visa are part of the Home Offices points-based immigration system and require a job offer from a UK employer, however only the Skilled Worker visa requires applicants to be formally sponsored. The salary requirement for the scale-up visa is higher at £33,000 compared to £25,600 for the Skilled Worker visa.

Global Talent Network

Government intend to launch a new ‘Global Talent Network’ to proactively find and bring highly skilled people to work in the UK in the key science and technology sectors. 

This network will work with businesses and research institutions to identify UK skilled needs and source talent in overseas campuses, innovation hubs and research institutions to bring to the UK.

The network will launch in 2022 in the Bay Area and Boston, USA and Bengaluru in India.

Whilst there is not much information available on this network yet, it sounds like the government have decided to attract the best talent from around the world. They need representatives in key locations who can headhunt those with suitable skills and qualifications to meet specific needs in the UK.

The government will also maintain the expanded Department for International Trade (DTI) Global Entrepreneur Programme. This will allow the programme to continue to expand its global footprint to bring an extra 100 innovative, highly skilled entrepreneurs to the UK each year.

Support for sectors

Between June 2019 and June 2021 there have been sectors which have been hard hit such as the number of HGV drivers that have fallen. Therefore, the government have had to address the shortage through immigration reforms.

The budget report recaps the governments offer of 5000 short term temporary visas for food and fuel haulage drivers to work in the UK. Albeit short sighted approach, the Budget does not mention plans for introduction of similar options for other sectors. Therefore, workers who do not qualify for temporary work visas must continue to use the Skilled Worker route to enter the UK, if they meet the requirements.

Further details on the new Scale-up Visa and the Global Talent Network will be published by the Home Office in the coming weeks and months. 

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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