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Expert Insights

16 May 2022

Is the UK open for business? A discussion with the Home Office

There have been many changes to the UK's immigration system over the last two years and global developments that have affected UK businesses. Spring 2022 sees the introduction of a number of new immigration routes at a time when global business mobility and staffing flexibility are key, which will require careful consideration so that companies can plan their corporate immigration and hiring strategies.

Our immigration team was joined by the policymakers from the Home Office, to provide a detailed update on these changes and what they may mean for your business.

This session covered the new global business mobility and scale-up routes; the graduate route; Skilled Worker visas and the future direction of the UK's immigration landscape. If you weren’t able to attend, the webinar was recorded and is available to watch below.

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Transcript

Rose Carey: Good morning and welcome. The UK has seen some significant changes recently to the immigration system and further changes of schedules in the autumn. What does this mean for UK businesses and post BREXIT, can we really say that the UK is open for business. Well today’s webinar, we will look at these issues in detail. I’m Rose Carey a Partner and Head of the Immigration Team at Charles Russell Speechlys. Charles Russell Speechlys is a full-service international law firm, headquartered in London and so today’s topic will be of utmost importance to our clients. We are delighted at Charles Russell Speechlys to welcome the Home Office today and we thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedules to be here with us. I am very pleased to introduce you to my fellow Partner in the immigration team, Kelvin Tanner who has organised this very exciting meeting. Kelvin joined Charles Russell Speechlys from Fragomen, a specialist global immigration practice back in 2019 and brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise in UK immigration and global mobility matters. Kelvin will now introduce our friends from the Home Office, points for discussion and the order of proceedings. Over to you Kelvin.

Kelvin Tanner: Thanks Rose and morning everyone. Thanks for joining what I am sure is going to be a very interesting session from the Home Office. In less than two years we have seen the end of EU free movement, the introduction of the Skilled Worker route and then most recently, the closure of tier one investor, somewhat unexpectedly and then introduction of the global business mobility routes. There is a lot to digest and to help us to do that, we are very lucky to be joined today by Lee Graham, a Home Office veteran of some 15 plus years. He is going to be leading the Presentation and Lee’s work covers the future borders about immigration system, that includes the points base system, reform of the sponsorship system and the programme to digitise the UK border. Lee’s going to be joined by a number of policy experts, who are going to help him with the Q&A. This is a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and hear from the experts that really work to develop immigration law and guidance in the UK, so please do make the most of this excellent opportunity and post any questions to the team. On that note, I’ll hand over to Lee to introduce himself and his team. Thanks Lee.

Lee Graham: Thanks very much Kelvin, such a kind introduction and thank you everybody for allowing us to come and speak to you today. I will go through how we will take your questions shortly and I will quickly just introduce myself first, I won’t go into more detail than Kelvin said, so I do work for the external engagement team, so we host a number of events similar to this. Today, while we are here, we are going to talk about the overview of the points-based system. Look in particularly as an overview of the Skilled Worker route, cover elements of sponsorship. We will also move into visit Visas and rights of work checks, whilst also recognising some of our growth, our plan for growth routes, which we will cover with you today as well. After the Presentation, there will be a short Q&A, so I am fortunate enough to be joined by some of my policy colleagues, Richard, Callum and Gareth and we will hopefully be able to answer some of your questions. So, if we can just move onto the next slides. If we go onto the next one again, that would be perfect. Lovely, so just as we said, we are really keen to take some of your questions. I appreciate that you may not have used slido before, but for those that have, or those that haven’t, here’s some information of how you can actually do that. So, you can access the slider either by scanning the VQR code, as you can see on the screen there with your mobile phone, that will take you straight to the link on Slido and you can start entering your question on there. You can also do it by going straight to the website www.slido and entering the code 883291. That information should be on every slide that you see, so you can do that throughout the questions. What we will try and do, if there’s lots of questions, we will try and answer the most popular questions and I have Tanya here, who is going to keep an eye on Slido as we go through the slides. You don’t have to wait until the end to ask a question, you can do that at any point. Okay, so moving onto the next slide. There’s obviously quite a lot to get through which we will try and do that now and I will talk to you first about our flagship route Skilled Worker and that will hopefully be useful for you as a reminder, or certainly for those that haven’t used that route yet, it certainly explains how to do it. So, moving on the next slide, that would be perfect, lovely. So, this route is for anyone coming to the UK to demonstrate they need to meet a specific set of requirements, for which they will score points, and this is what comprises of the Skilled Worker Visa. The core requirements for this Visa are where the applicant can actually score the mandatory points and these are set out three categories, so if people have an offer of a job and will be sponsored by an approved home office sponsor, the job will be at a minimum skill level and the applicant will be able to speak English to a required standard, which is currently and where it’s the intermediate level of English of about B1, which is on the common European Framework of references for languages CEFR, for anyone who does not know. Crucially here, workers do not need to hold the formal qualification, there is no specific immigration requirements relating to skills or qualifications. It just means that an employee must be satisfied that the person they are offering the employment to is capable of doing that job. Applicants must be paid a minimum or required salary for the job and we will look into that closely in the coming slides. There is also a criminality check on every application. So just for those that are maybe more familiar with the Tier 2 route, just to explain what is different. We have made a number of changes to make it easier, simpler for employers to attract talent to the UK. The cap on numbers on these routes have been suspended. The resident’s labour, market test has been removed. The skill threshold expanded, and the salary threshold also lowered and the twelve-month cooling off period and six-year maximum length of stay route has also been removed. There are tradable points for certain characteristics across some occupations, but I will go through what that means in practice and also work through an example with you in the next couple of slides. So, we will just move onto the next slide. Lovely. So, the Skilled Worker Visa, as you can see here, you need to score a total of 70 points to be eligible for this Visa and it is firstly by meeting the mandatory criteria, which I set out on the previous slide. To qualify for this, they must also obtain a further 20 tradeable points and that’s through a combination of points for their salary, if the job is in the UK shortage occupation list, or they have a relevant qualification. Now for every occupation, there is a required salary that the worker has to be paid. This is the higher of the general salary threshold, which we have set out £25,600, or the going rate for job. It is whichever one is higher and the going rates for each occupation is set out on gov.uk. It is possible to reduce the salary requirements if the Skilled Worker can score points for their attributes or nature of their job. Also as well, it’s worth adding in here, if the job is on the shortest occupation list, they can get a discount, 20% discount if the applicant has a PHD in a relevant job or rising to 20%... sorry, that’s 10% and then rising to 20% if they have a PHD in a STEM subject and again, this is all set out in the guidance. New entrants to the labour market, so those under 26, they can secure a higher discount of 30% on the general salary threshold and in summary of that, the discount applies to whichever the sum individual or otherwise need to earn for that particular occupation, where that figure is based on the general salary threshold or the actual going rate. So, the general floor here at this point is £20,480, below which the salary cannot drop below once the discounts have been applied. So, when we look at all discounts and tradeable characteristics, taking this into account £20,480 is the minimum a worker can be paid. There is scope in the future to increase the number of attributes that will score tradable points, that will be based on the need to the economy at that particular time, but it is under review in that sense. Next slide please. So, a question for organisations at the moment which we realise is, do they need to become a Home Office sponsor, realising that this is a commitment, but it might be one worthwhile. Whilst employers will need to become sponsors in order to recruit an individual outside of the resident labour market, such as that they would like to employ someone through the Skilled Worker route. We will talk about the resident labour market shortly. We have engaged extensively and listened carefully to business and have made a number of changes in the way they can sponsor from overseas, so as just mentioned, we have removed the labour market test and suspended the cap on numbers and certificate of sponsorships are no longer issued via a monthly panel. Organisations do not need to be a sponsor to employ someone from the resident’s labour market and that’s really important, so that will include any EU citizens who apply to stay under the EU settlement scheme as an example, they do not need to be sponsored. In addition, it is now possible for workers to switch Visas without having to leave the UK, provided they meet the individual needs of the new Visa and we have been working with employers directly through advisory groups, dedicated SME groups and we are making further improvements to the sponsorship system and again, I’ll go through that with you shortly. Next slide please. So just some of our reforms and this is forever moving forward, and we are trying to obviously improve. We have a range of ambitious technological and system reforms planned to the sponsorship system and the key that we are trying to do is make it faster and simpler and the four mains areas, as you can see there, we are looking to go into is the improvement for customers, IT transformation, changes to existing systems and of course our engagement strategy. In terms of improvement for customers, this is all about the users, both employees and sponsors and an alternative way of delivering a faster end to end customer journey from the point of applying for a sponsor licence, to actually being able to recruit an overseas worker. We are also doubling the cap for post licence priority service requests for those who want faster decisions. On top of the speed, we are also addressing barriers to the system, especially regards to our SMEs, we are currently undertaking research to understand and address these barriers so that we can deliver the right support package to actually address them. In terms of the IT transformation, we will deliver a number of packages, which will make the end-to-end process easier. That will come in three packages to allow a sponsor to sponsor a Visa, manage a licence and become a sponsor retrospectively. These packages will be rolled out over the next couple of years to a very limited set of users initially and that will give us an opportunity to test and obviously learn, but gradually we will increase the number of participants who can have them changes introduced to them. So on top of that, we will also ensure compliance with the system, so features such as online checks between departments for us to reduce the opportunity for abuse of the system and changes to the existing systems, including both the sponsorship of students as well and the global business mobility route, which I will talk about shortly. In addition, we will include compliance, through a best date sharing as well. Finally, engage with our stakeholders, this has been the centre of the design in terms of these reforms and in addition to gathering regular feedback, we will communicate these changes to a comprehensive sponsorship engagement strategy to ensure that all of our stakeholders are made aware of the changes and particularly how they will actually impact them. If we can do the next slide please. So, if you are thinking of becoming a sponsored licence, or obtaining a licence sponsor. To become a sponsor, the first port of call is to check your planned vacancies are eligible under one of our licences. You can do this through searching the UK Visa Sponsorship Employers which the link is on gov.uk and before you start, it is a good idea to check and make sure you have the documents required and they will vary depending on your organisation. In most cases, you need to provide four documents, or at least four documents and you can check through them on gov.uk if you look at the Sponsorship Employer Guidance. They will include things like staff organigram, your management structure, or any financial accounts. To get a licence you must have, or not have, any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud. Again, that’s all explained in the guidance. When you apply for a licence, you will need to appoint a person or persons within the business to manage the sponsorship process and have access to the Home Office sponsor system. You apply for your licence online and pay the appropriate licence fee, which will depend on the size of the business and the roles that they are planning to fill. As part of that process, we will ask you confirm how many staff you plan to recruit through the sponsorship system for the current financial year and if successful, your licence will be valid for four years. In terms of actually recruiting, once you have selected a candidate, they must then make a Visa application to work in the UK and then on top of that, you must also endorse your prospective employees Visa by your sponsor licence account and by requesting and issuing an electronic certificate of sponsorship and there is an immigration skill charge to pay if required, the employer must submit, as I said, a Visa application under the same category as the licence that you hold. If the prospective employer’s Visa application is successful, then of course they can travel to the UK and start working. So, if we can move onto the next couple of slides, just do the next one again, perfect. This is to talk to you about the graduate route. So, this is one route that is of particular interest to employers, who have graduate schemes for example within their organisation. This route opened on 1 July last year and represents a commitment improving our offer to international students and any students considering their education in the UK. Since launching, and I think these figures would be higher now, but we have seen over 43,000 applications made on this route so far. It significantly improves our previous offer for international students and enables them to stay in the UK to work or look for work after successfully completing their studies. The route gives individual permission to stay for at least two years if they have a Bachelors or Master’s Degree, or three years for any PHD students and that’s after they have completed their course from an eligible institution in the UK and actually graduated. This is unsponsored this route, so it just means the applicants do not need a job offer to apply and there is no minimum salary requirements either, or cap on numbers graduates on this, you will be able to work in most jobs as well, they can look for work, be self-employed, do voluntary work and they are able to travel abroad and return back to the UK. Once they come to the end of their two or three years on this route, Graduate Visas cannot be extended, that’s worth pointing out, but it is possible to switch into a different route. So for example, after completing their studies, the Skilled Worker route may be more appropriate if they are then going into work and want to stay longer and continue working in the UK and they can switch to the Skilled Worker Visa at any point during their Visa if they have an approved offer of employment from an approved sponsor and meet the other eligibility requirements as are set out in the Skilled Worker Visa, then obviously they can switch. They don’t actually have to wait until the Graduate Visa expires and the big takeaway for employers here is the Skilled Worker route, sorry unlike the Skilled Worker route, those on the Graduate route, do not need to be, as I say, a sponsor by their employer. Okay next slides.. you can go next couple of slides. So, in support of the UK Governments plan for growth agenda, we are expanding further on our points base system. We are introducing new routes to attract the most promising international talent to the UK to strengthen our status as a leading international hub for business and emerging technologies. So just to talk you through the Global Business Mobility route, so we launched this on 11 April, bringing together reform and the expansion of a number of previous routes to allow overseas businesses and innovative companies, greater flexibility in transferring workers to the UK and make it easy to establish and operate multinational businesses in the UK. This is a sponsored route, provides a consolidated immigration route for use by overseas businesses, who need to temporarily send employees to the UK for a specific purpose that could not be done by a settled worker. So that includes provisions for intra-company transferees, UK trade commitments for contractual service suppliers, independent professionals, as well as employees of overseas businesses assigned to the UK to establish a branch or subsidiary. The new provision for secondments will improve collaboration between the UK and international business in relation to high value import and export deals and to oversee substantial investment, something that was not actually possible through the previous route. These are new reform routes, making mobility across the UK border as friction us as possible, whilst at the same time, ensuring the international trade serves the best interests of British workers, our economy and our overseas business partners. Next slide please. So just to show you how this has changed. We do recognise through the previous system, there were a number of inconsistencies and barriers preventing businesses undertaking some activities and that has resulted in some confusion. So, under the banner of global business mobility, we aim to simplify the UK immigration offer for business by bringing together various business mobility groups. So, as you can see in the slide there, that provides routes for Senior Executives and Specialists, so this is anyone undertaking temporary assignments at a UK branch or subsidiary of a business they work for. That replaces the intra-company transfer route, graduate trainees, so that’s anyone undertaking a placement in the UK as part of a structured training programme. That replaces the intra-company graduate training route. Expansion workers, so anyone sent to establish a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business. That replaces the sole representative provisions in the representative of overseas business route, and then service suppliers, anyone undertaking work covered by one of the UK’s commitments on trading services, that’s replacing the service supplier provisions in the temporary work international agreement route. Then finally, our secondment workers to UK businesses, that’s anyone in connection with high value contracts for goods or services. Just to talk you through the next slide, just in terms of the broad requirements for this route, so they are brought in line with the previous intra-company routes, the job the worker will do in the UK must meet the skilled level requirements. It must be on one of the list of eligible occupations and the key is that these occupations we consider to be senior or specialist, so that they are at RQF level 6, which is the equivalent to undergraduate degree level. The workers themselves do not need to have any formal qualifications, but they must be working at this level and their sponsor must be satisfied that the workers have the required skill to carry out their role. There is no English requirement to apply on this route and workers do have permission for up to five years or five years and six, just note that the five years in six rule is not the length of stay, that will actually vary, depending on the assignment time, but it’s rather a limit on how often you can be in the UK across any of the GBM routes. So, this means that businesses cannot keep workers here indefinitely using a variety of different Global Business Mobility routes. If they need a Skilled Worker on a more permanent basis, they should use other routes, such as the Skilled Worker route. The company in the UK receiving the overseas business, or the overseas workers will be the sponsor and will need the sponsor licence for those workers. I will touch on that shortly. The worker must be an existing employee with a minimum length of employment outside the UK and whilst signs on this route are temporary, it does offer a higher degree of flexibility, as you can switch to some of the more permanent routes, such as the one I mentioned earlier, the Skilled Worker route and again, they can do that at any time during their Visa. Next slide please. So just to cover off the high potential individual route, this is not live just yet, but we will launch this towards the end of this month, and this is a route, it will be a short-term worker Visa route for a select cohort of international graduates, really with an emphasis on those with high potential to help UK business grow and as I say, we are aiming to launch this on 30 May this year. It will provide an opportunity for eligible business graduates who have been awarded their degree to come and work in the UK for two or three years. The route is highly selective, offering a Visa to graduates of highly ranked international universities, who have the skills to support UK business and enhance the UK latent force. As with the student and graduate routes, there is no limit on the number of international graduates who will be eligible. Those granted can work in any sector, any level, the studies restricted in the same way as it is on the graduate route. Applicants will be required to hold a Bachelors, Masters or PHD from an institution, which is included in the relevant list of top 50 Global Universities and for the particular year their award was gained, so the qualification must have been awarded no more than five years before the date of application and the qualification must be verified prior to the application. We have identified universities by using the first 15 institutions from the rankings list produced annually by the QS vs Higher Education and Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) and institution is eligible for this route if it appears on the Global University list. So those institutions in the top 50, in at least two of these ranking systems and is based outside the UK will be listed in the Global University list and these are all published on gov.uk. They must demonstrate their English language ability in all four components, so speak, listen, read and write at the intermediate level of B1. They must also meet the financial maintenance requirements. An applicant will be granted two years leave for a Bachelors or a Master’s Degree and three years leave if they have a PHD. Applicants to this route do not need a job offer or sponsor before they arrive in the UK and whilst they are unable to extend their Visa on this route, owing to the fact that they won’t actually 26.09 in the UK, they will be encouraged to switch to other routes, such as the Skilled Worker at any point. As I say, they can do this at any point once they secure an eligible job in the UK. I will just talk to you about our scale up Visa, that’s later in the year and there is a strong competition for scale up talent. The new scale up route will support the UK’s fastest growing business through access to highly sought-after individuals, who can help businesses grow and this is set to launch in August of this year. The scale up route will enhance the UK’s Visa offer with a bespoke sponsored worker route for those recruited into eligible roles within leading UK scale up companies. Those workers will have a flexible work Visa, allowing them to change jobs after six months in this route and undertake other supplementary work. Just in terms of the criteria, applicants will need to meet a job offer from an approved scale up sponsor, a job offer at the appropriate skill and salary level, English language and criminality checks are all part of that Visa application. The salary requirement is £33,000 per year, or the going rate for the role set out on gov.uk, whichever one is higher and applicants on this route will be able to bring family members to the UK and be able to settle after five years. The scale up route is a sponsored route; UK businesses will be eligible for a scale up licence if they meet the published definition of a scale up and this can be verified through our checks with HMRC. The route will allow those with a job offer at the required skill level from a recognised UK scale up to quality for a fast-track Visa, obviously making it quicker and easier for a fast-growing business to bring in highly skilled individuals. There will be more information on this later in the year for anyone who is interested. Okay, so if we can just move onto the next slide.  We are just going to quickly talk to you about visit Visas. So, anyone can apply to visit the UK. They should apply either for a Visa before travel or seek leave to enter at the border. In most cases, visitors can come to the UK for up to six months and a visitor may enter the UK multiple times, but they must not live in the UK by any means of repeat visits. Visa nationals can apply at any Visa application centre outside the UK and non-Visa nationals can apply at the UK Border. The Government has made it clear that citizens of EU and EEA do not require a Visa to visit the UK for less than six months. Next slide please. There are a number of activities that you can do on these routes, I won’t go through them all with you, but you can see them on the slides and we will share these with you afterwards. So, I have some examples her, tourism, so anyone coming on holiday or to see friends or family, that might be one reason. For certain business activities, so for example attending meetings. It could be to come here for trade fairs, negotiating contracts, providing training or to do a short course of study at an accredited institution, or it could be to take part in research or an exchanged programme as an academic. Although our visit rules have not changed hugely, we do recommend engaging with the guidance to ensure that there is no unintentional non-compliance or unnecessary Visa applications are made. Okay, so I am conscious we are going through quite a lot here, but we will go through rights to work checks. So as of 1 July, the process for completing right to work checks on EU and EEA in the Swiss systems has changed. Employees can no longer accept EU passports or ID cards as proof of a right to work, that is except for Irish citizens. An online check, an online right to work check is now required for individuals who hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK, that includes most EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It is important to highlight, it is not just EU and EEA citizens with status under the EU settlement scheme that are able to use the online service to prove their rights to work check. So, in terms of checking the persons right to work details, you will need to access the view a job’s right to work details via gov.uk, you will be provided as an employer with a share code and that will be given to you by the individual and you will need to enter their date of birth. Just to note here, there is no mandatory requirements for employees to undertake retrospective checks on EEA citizens who were employed on, or before, 30 June last year. Employers do maintain a continuous statutory excuse against a single penalty in the event of the legal working, if the initial right to work check was undertaken in line with the right to work legislation and published guidance at that time. Updated guidance on how to conduct right to work checks is an acceptable document and is all found on gov.uk. I will just talk you through some nuances with this though, but before that, I will just show you the next slide just in terms of what the right to work checks look like. So this is an example profile, so when you are checking an individual’s right to work online, there are a number of things you must do to complete the check. So once you have gained access to the individual’s account through their share code, you must check their photograph and make sure that that is the individual presenting to you and you can do that in person or online. You must also only employ the person if the online check confirms they have a right to work and again, you will see that on the profile. You need to make sure that they are not subject to any conditions preventing them from doing any work, for example, that could be a Graduate Visa, an individual can work in any role, except as a professional sports person. This would show here, so as the employer, you must retain evidence of this as well, so you can do that through the profile page, confirming the individual’s right to work, or you can actually do it via saving it as a pdf or a html file and that’s all pretty self-explanatory when you go onto the right to work screens. Once you have done all this, you then have that statutory excuse. So just in terms of nuances, I think it is really important to flag some change. Moving onto the next slide. So from the 6 April this year, in terms of how you do checks for those who hold the biometric residents card or biometric residents permit or a frontier worker permit. So for all of them documents that I have just mentioned, holders are now required to enter their right to work using the Home Office online service. Employers cannot accept physical cards for the purpose of a right to work check, even if it shows a later expiry date. All the BRC, biometric cards and the ones I mentioned have been removed from the list of acceptable documents, use to conduct a manual right to work check. Retrospective checks will not be required on biometric card holders who use the physical card prior to 6 April. That gives you the statutory excuse, as long as you did that check prior to 6 April. Then, in light of the Ukraine schemes that we have introduced in the Home Office, I think it is a good idea here to also tell you what is slightly different for them. So, any Ukrainians granted under one of the Ukraine schemes, or one of our schemes, will have a right to work in the UK and right to rent private property if they choose to do so and to highlight here the rights to rent scheme only applies to private property in England. In line with other cohorts, employees and landlords should conduct right to work and rent checks and all Ukrainian nationals which undertake of employment in the UK. Right to work checks operate in exactly the same way for Ukrainian nationals on the Ukraine schemes. The key difference, which is why I wanted to let you know, is the documents which they will have upon arrival in the UK. So any Ukrainian nationals around the UK can evidence the right to work, either with a valid passport, or with a biometric residents permit and obviously if they hold a biometric residents permit, they can do the online check as I set out just before. For those with a valid passport on arrival in the UK, Border Force will stamp their passport with a code 1A or amended code 1 endorsement and we will share some of the examples of this on the slides after the event. This stamp gives the individual permission to enter the UK and is valid for six months with no restrictions on taking employment or recourse to public funds. That is known as leave outside the rules, where Border Force have granted leave outside the rules for six months, for those individuals with a passport, they will still be required to obtain a biometric residents permit and that will be endorsed for up to 36 months, giving them permission to stay, this can be done at any point during their six months of validity of the stamp. Those with a stamp in their passport, they are granted permission to stay under one of the Ukraine schemes, have a time limited right to work. If an employer or landlord, if it’s right to rent, manually checks this document as outlined in the guidance and records it correctly, this will give them a time limited statutory excuse for twelve months. What we will also do, when we share the slides, we will give you some links to this, just in case you need to know about Ukrainian nationals. In terms of if they have, or don’t have a valid passport I should say, they can prove their rights of work using their biometric residents permit, or what we call a form for affixing the Visa, VAF document, the latter is in conjunction with the employment checking service, or the landlord checking service. If the Ukrainian national does not hold a valid passport prior to travelling to the UK, they will have been provided with their biometric information at an overseas Visa application centre. Once registering their details, they will be provided with entry clearance, vignette, this form for affixing the Visa and that will allow them to travel to the UK. So, I think what I wanted to sort of say here at this point, for Ukrainian nationals, they don’t necessarily need to have a biometric residents permit before you can give them their right to work. Please read the guidance, I will send the links after this event as well. Cool, I’m losing my voice. So, support materials, we will just move onto the next slide. Thank you very much. So, we will share this with you. We recommend you read all these guides. They are tailored for employers and organisations on the points-based system, and as I say, they are all available on gov.uk. I’ll just do the next one. We do have an employment partner pack and that contains all information employees need to help them recruit under the border points base system. Okay, so I am losing my voice as you can see, so that’s a good point for me to stop for questions. I will give you the slide link there again. So, I am going to now introduce Tanya who hopefully has some questions for us Tanya for our panel.

Tanya Dewey: Hi good morning everybody, Richard has been typing away in there as well. So, the first one I am going to ask is regarding do you know when the planned increase and pre-licence priority slots will take effect. Now, Richard I have been in touch with Andrew Edgar while we were on the call to find out, but I don’t know if you knew anything about this either at all.

Richard Jackson: I don’t I’m afraid.

Tanya Dewey: No, so we will come back to you in writing with this one though, I have been in touch with Andrew Edgar who is on our sponsorship team and he has advised that the sponsorship licencing at the moment is in with the eight weeks of the service delivery for initial applications and their priority ten day service is still open for business but the increase in slots is a work in progress and this is due to the resource that has been moved onto the Ukraine work, but this is something that is in the planning, it is imminent and it will be happening, it’s just at the moment, prioritising the work that we have, but we will come back with more on that one and the next question is around the Skilled Worker Visa. Following the priority service being removed, the waiting time for a decision is over eight-weeks. Will this be improved? So this one, is that one for Richard?

Richard Jackson: I think it’s more for UKVI, but I mean I have put an answer on Slido for this one, which is basically that yes, it’s taken a long time at the moment for most routes, because we have diverted a lot of our case working resources to the Ukraine schemes, so that’s why things are taking a bit longer than they should do. On normal service standard for a Skilled Worker is three weeks and we are often within that, it can be less than three weeks and we hope to get back to that position as soon as possible, but I don’t have an update on when that might be, I don’t know if anyone else does.

Tanya Dewey: Great thank you very much. I don’t have one on there, but this is something that we can come back onto, that’s not a problem there. We have got a few on there, which I think we will need to come back to on. So, there’s another here around Global Business Mobility Route. Does this cover short term secondment between two different companies who are part of an international network? Is Andrew on? Andrew Marshall.

Lee Graham: So, I think if I am right Tanya, nobody from the Global Mobility is on this call.

Tanya Dewey: Oh apologies.

Lee Graham: We will capture that one and come back in writing if we can.

Tanya Dewey: Apologies, I thought I saw his name, so I apologise for that.

Richard Jackson: I’ve popped a couple of short answers to some of the Global Business Mobility questions on Slido, but it is not a route that I know inside out, so they are slightly limited answers. I think the answer is yes, provided the normal sort of global business mobility sponsorship apply which is that the companies have to be linked, either by common ownership or control, or by a Joint Venture Agreement, but I am afraid I don’t know any more detail than that.

Tanya Dewey: Thanks we can come back on that one. So, when switching from the Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa, do you need to book a biometric appointment with UK, or is this all done online now. Who’s on the call who can respond to that one?

Richard Jackson: Again, I think it’s one we might have to take away. I know the ambition is to be able to sort of reuse biometrics without having to give them again, and I know that is something that is being rolled out route by route, but I am afraid I am a bit behind as to what the latest status is with that, so I am not sure what the current answer is.

Tanya Dewey: Thank you very much. The next one, Richard and I can see that you’ve put a short answer into this one. Is the UK consider a digital NOMAD Visa route?

Richard Jackson: It’s a very short answer. No, is the answer to that one. It is something we get asked about from time to time, but no plans at the moment.

Tanya Dewey: Thank you and then Lee, this one will be for you. So, does an individual receive their share code as soon as their Visa has been approved? What is the timeline for this?

Lee Graham: Yes, is the answer to that. So as soon as they are granted, their letter will set out how to access their online profile and they can do that, they can do the share code, they can do that with the employer at any point from that point yeah.

Tanya Dewey: Thank you, then another one. So, this is UKVI, is still on track to completely go digital by 2024, so basically no more BRP cards and how would it work for a 90 day entry Visa and any deadline to reach the UK. So, this is really regarding around the isn’t it.

Lee Graham: Yeah, certainly that’s our ambition in terms of the transformation. I think what would be helpful, is we would certainly like to come back to this group and talk about some of that digital side of our transformation as we get more information, but yes, we are trying to make our routes more digital and that is on our roadmap to do that, but in that sort of timescale. The second question Tanya, I didn’t…. what was that one sorry, about the 90 days?

Tanya Dewey: So that’s on the 90-day Visa, but I think that’s about the travel. So, when the travel, where you can come in for 90 days, is it going to be longer, let me just have a look if I’m understanding it in that way. So how would it work re a 90-day entry Visas and any deadline to reach the UK?

Lee Graham: Yeah I mean, I’m not quite understanding that question I think, Tanya is there anyone on the call who.

Tanya Dewey: We can go back with that one, because that’s about coming in isn’t it?

Kelvin Tanner: If what the question is, is basically so at the moment you are getting a 90-day entry Visa to enter and that were being replaced, then there’s no Visa in the passport, would there be an equivalent kind of 90 days, or what used to be 30 days to enter the UK where you’ve got everything approved digitally.

Tanya Dewey: Callum is that something that you know of on the visits part?

Callum McGinty: So I know what the policy, so this is regarding when an individual gets the 90 day vignette in the passport and they have to travel within that period. I am not 100% sure what the policy will be once we move to digital permissions, because I have not involved in that.

Lee Graham: But again, I think these are things we can come back to as we start introducing some of them changes Tanya.

Tanya Dewey: That’s great, thank you very much. Then, so what, this is Business Globality. What happens to the amount of the GBP2 million held under tier 1 when one moves to tier 2. Do you know that one Richard, or is that one for...

Richard Jackson: Yeah, I wasn’t quite sure…. It is for me, but I wasn’t quite what the question was getting at, I mean, there were no requirements for any sort of funds going to what was tier 2, now Skilled Worker or Global Business Mobility. The funds, this is either tier 1 entrepreneur or tier 1 investor, it’s entirely up to the applicant whether they want to carry on investing in whatever it was they invested before they made the switch, but there’s no sort of immigration rules around that, so. I wasn’t quite sure what the question was getting at.

Kelvin Tanner: Yeah, sorry if I can jump in on this. Yeah, I mean the general principal that we would always advise is while you hold your investor Visa, you need to maintain the qualifying portfolio and as soon as you have switched into a different category. At that point, if you are on a Skilled Worker Visa, you need to fulfil the conditions of a Skilled Worker Visa, which obviously doesn’t have an investment requirement, so as Richard says, you are free at that point to liquidate investments or continue to hold them, but it is not a condition of your Visa to do that.

Tanya Dewey: That’s great, thank you. Now, when an employee has an application in process to extend their Visa, what proof would suffice for an employer so the employee can continue to work. That’s for you Lee.

Lee Graham: Sorry let’s do that one again sorry Tanya.

Tanya Dewey: So, when an employee, if they have an application to extend their Visa in with an employer, what proof would suffice for an employer so the employee can continue to work. So if…

Lee Graham: Right to work checks isn’t it.

Tanya Dewey: The right to work check.

Lee Graham: Make an extension application under 3C.

Tanya Dewey:Yeah.

Lee Graham: Yeah sorry, I’m struggling with…

Tanya Dewey: So basically, with the right to work check. If somebody’s got a pending application to extend, then what proof would the employer need so the employee can continue to work. So that would be there on the right to work part of it.

Lee Graham: Yeah, I mean they basically need to know that the individual applied for an extension before their current leave expired, but I am not sure what exact proof that we ask for on that from.

Rose Carey: If I can just jump in there, because we advise our clients in that situation that there is Home Office employer checking service that is able to provide confirmation of someone’s right to work if they have an outstanding application.

Richard Jackson: Yeah sorry, sorry yes, of course, I’m totally misunderstanding the question Rose, you’re absolutely right. That enquiry will be made with the employer checking service, and they would check that for you, yeah absolutely. So, anything sort of pending before it’s undecided, yeah contact that employee checking service. Obviously, they are issued with the Visa and have a status, the online check can actually be done then, so, yeah sorry.

Tanya Dewey: Yeah, then the next one Richard on a tier 1 Visa extension, so somebody submitted the application in the middle of March but haven’t had feedback. Do you know what the indictive timeframe is to get approval?

Richard Jackson: So no, same really as the answer I gave before on Skilled Worker Visas is that most of our case worker resources divert at the moment to Ukraine scheme applications, so things are taking longer. Tier 1 applications, even extensions tend to be more complex, so they do tend to take the full eight-week service standards, even in normal times and I realise this one has now taken or slightly passed the eight weeks, but without the details to sort of follow that one up I am not sure.

Tanya Dewey: Then this one, are there any plans to allow graduates of top UK Universities to apply for the graduate route up to five years after graduation in the same way under the HPI the High Potential Individual route? I think we’ve got Gareth on have we?

Gareth Musgrave: Yeah I think unfortunately, that is normally more of a question for the student policy team, however, I will pick up. There aren’t currently any plans to extend it to five years for the graduate route, because obviously the graduate route works differently in that in the six people who are already residing in the UK and there are a number of requirements within that route, or rather lack of requirements in that route that reflects that sort of position. There’s no maintenance requirements and things like that, whereas the high potential individual route is specifically set to attract people who have studied overseas, so they haven’t presumably already considered the UK as a destination to live and work, so that’s why there are some slight differences, one of which is obviously the qualifying time that we allow up to five years.

Tanya Dewey: Thank you very much. If we move on this.

Lee Graham: If we take one more question Tanya.

Tanya Dewey: So it’s further to the previous questions regarding the short term secondments between two different companies who are part of an international network. Will JV contract value need to be 50 million plus, is that for you?

Richard Jackson: So that’s a global business mobility question, from someone who has read the guidance more thoroughly than I have, so I am not sure there’s any light I can shed on that one.

Tanya Dewey: I think some of these, we will take away. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anybody from global business mobility and I can see that the last of them are really from there. There is one Lee around can you please explain why there are delays in processing applications made by Ukrainian nationals via any of the concessions. So we have just done quite a few Ukrainian events for employers, information for employers and it really does all depend on how the application is being made. Some of them are being done very quickly. It all depends on what route it is. There have been delays regarding information that we have been able to receive, but they are going, how many… I think there’s nearly 100,000 now applications been completed. So they continue to work really hard to get these applications through, the Visa applications through as quickly as they possibly can. I don’t know if Lee, you want to add anymore onto that.

Lee Graham: Yeah obviously that’s right Tanya, I think depending on the individual’s circumstances and what documentation and what documentation we need, it will alter the service levels that we are actually going through. As Tanya said, we have delivered over 100,000 Visas. It doesn’t mean that 100,000 Ukrainian nationals have come over to the UK yet to start living here or working here, but certainly that is picking up pace, now that we are actually more set up to deal with the applications.

Tanya Dewey: That’s great, thank you very much. Now the other ones are on the global mobility, so we will come back to you with written responses for those as well, because looking at them, we don’t want to give you the incorrect information, but what we will do, is we will provide written responses.

Lee Graham: Yeah that’s fine Tanya. I think we unfortunately we hoping to have a mobility policy leave here today, but unfortunately an apology that they have not been able to join us. I do know some of the answers to them questions but again, I think you will be better served if we get something in writing to give you, the very specific advice and we will do that as soon as possible. So conscious of time, I’ll stop there from our side. I don’t know if my colleagues Kelvin or Rose want to summarise and we can end the call.

Kelvin Tanner: Yeah thanks very much Lee. Yeah so from us, we just wanted to say a huge thank you for a really important Presentation and thanks to Richard Jackson as always for his policy expertise and Tanya thanks for helping to bring this session together today. We will be circulating the recording of the session, so if you want to cross reference that at any point, or share that with colleagues, please do so and as ever, please feel free to contact me or Rose with any questions. Thanks everyone.
 

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