Earlier this month, the UK Home Office delivered its annual spring statement which includes changes to immigration rules. The message that was given on 9 March outlines several changes in various immigration routes that may affect employment. Employers and recruiters are advised to familiarise themselves with these changes.
Within the statement, the highlighted changes are the requirements for employment routes, Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETA) and introduction of the Innovator Founder route. The changes are expected to take effect from 12 April 2023 onwards.
Salary Threshold Increase for Employment Routes
An update to going rates for individual occupations is expected, with additional clarification on salaries for workers who do not work regular hours each week. These changes will affect work-related immigration routes – which are Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility, Scale-up and Seasonal Worker routes.
The changes are taking place to ensure that migrant workers’ salaries align with the labour market, as salaries are rising due to inflation. The increase in salary thresholds has not been consistent in the past, which will make this change quite noticeable for newly sponsored workers.
The general salary threshold for the Skilled Worker route will increase to £26,200 from £25,600. There is also an increase in minimum salary to £20,960 from £20,480. While the Global Business Mobility route will experience an increase in the salary threshold to £45,800 from £42,400. The salary threshold increase for Graduate Trainees will be to £24,220 from £23,100. And for the Scale-up route, the salary threshold will increase to £34,600 from £33,000.
Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETA)
The UK will soon adopt a new permission-to-travel scheme that will require citizens of specific countries to complete an online form and pay a fee to be allowed entry to the UK. This will apply to foreign nationals that are visiting the UK and do not need a visa for short stays and individuals with the Creative Worker visa doing short stays.
The online ETA will begin for Qatari nationals entering the UK this autumn, followed by nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, UAE and Saudi Arabia in February 2024.
It is aimed that at the end of 2024, this system will be a requirement for international visitors that do not require visas for short stays. This includes countries in Europe as well as other countries such as the USA and Australia.
The ETA will give two-year permission for individuals to visit the UK as many times as they want for a maximum stay of six months at a time, or three months if under the Creative Worker visa.
Innovator Founder Route
There is a new route that has been announced which is the Innovator Founder route that will open on 13 April 2023. This route will replace the Start-up route which will be close to new applicants.
This route will become an easier route for founders to establish a business in the UK. Individuals on this route will be able to work outside of their businesses to support themselves while building their businesses. This is a welcome change for innovation and tech hubs in the UK.
The requirement for an endorsement by a registered endorsing body will remain, but there are no longer requirements for initial capital for the business. Additionally, time spent on this visa will count toward settlement.
Apart from the mentioned above, the Home Office also announced several changes in the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS), Seasonal Worker route, Global Talent and Long Residence rules.
For the YMS, the arrangement that the UK has with New Zealand has been updated – with the expansion of the age range to 18-35 from the previously 18-30, and the length extended to 3 years from 2. The quota for this visa has also been updated for each country.
For the Seasonal Worker route, changes in the minimum hourly pay rate must align with the increase in National Minimum Wage and the National Minimum Wage. The minimum rate for Seasonal Workers will be £10.42 per hour.
Global Talent is experiencing several changes in requirements and endorsements, with the process expected to become clearer. And for long residents, changes are being made to clarify long-residence rules.