Business Immigration Update
As we move towards the start of April, when employers typically see the implementation of legislative changes across many sectors of their business, this update focusses on the key changes which are relevant to business immigration practice.
Right to Work Checks
Employers have long been under an obligation to carry out right to work checks on all employees before they start work to ensure that they have immigration permission to work in the UK. If an employee does not have valid immigration permission, the employer may be liable to pay a penalty of up to £20,000 per employee, unless they an prove a valid right to work check was carried out in accordance with the applicable Home Office guidance. If a valid right to work check was carried out then employer would then be able to demonstrate a ‘statutory excuse’ and be exempt from paying any penalty. Historically these checks have been carried out manually, but the Covid-19 pandemic saw the introduction of remote checks.
From 6 April 2022:
- It will be become mandatory for employers to conduct online right to work checks on those with a biometric residence permit, a biometric residence card or a frontier work permit. Manual right to work checks carried out after 6 April 2022 for individuals in these categories will not be valid and will not provide employers with the statutory excuse.
- A new optional online right to work checking system, will come into effect for British and Irish citizens with a valid passport (or valid Irish passport card). Individuals will be able to verify their identity and right to work status remotely, by uploading an image of their passport using a certified Identity Service Provider. Employers will have to pay a fee for this service but will still have the right to carry out manual checks as an alternative approach.
From 1 October 2022:
- The temporary Covid-19 rules, which have allowed employers to check scans or photographs of right to work documents as opposed to originals, is currently due to come to an end on 30 September 2022.
Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules
The Home Office has published its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which take effect from 6 April 2022 and which introduced some new immigration routes, as well as some changes and rebranding for existing routes. The Home Office is presenting these changes as part of its commitment to simplify the Immigration Rules and provide greater clarity to businesses and workers.
Changes to Immigration Routes
The new Global Business Mobility category will introduce the routes:
- The Senior or Specialist Worker route (replacing the Intra-Company Transfer route) will be most suitable for employers transferring staff from overseas group entities to the UK. The requirements are largely the same as the Intra-Company Transfer route, although the minimum salary threshold is slightly higher. Settlement is still not possible via this route.
- The Secondment Worker route- a new route for workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their overseas employer.
- The UK Expansion Worker- a route for senior managers and specialist employees of overseas businesses expanding into the UK. This will replace the current Sole Representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route.
- The Service Supplier route will replace certain provisions of the Temporary Work – International Agreement route. These are aimed at the employees of businesses without an existing presence in the UK.
There are no planned changes to the most highly used Skilled Worker route.
The government have also confirmed some of the finer detailing around the proposed Scale-up and High Potential Individual routes. The government is hoping that these routes will afford employers increased flexibility when it comes to bringing overseas talent into the UK.
An unsponsored route open to overseas workers with a highly skilled job offer from an eligible employer. To be eligible, an employer must demonstrate an annual business growth rate of more than 20% over a 3 year period and that it had at least 10 employees at the start of that 3 year period.
High Potential Individuals
An unsponsored route allowing successful applicants who have graduated from ‘top global universities’ to come to the UK without a job offer and work without restriction.
Further details regarding these new immigration routes will be provided in due course when the government releases the applicable immigration rules and guidance.
Health and Care Worker visa
There has been a temporary relaxation of the rules relating to the sponsorship of health care workers. Since February 2022, the minimum skills threshold has been dis-applied for this category of care work and the salary requirement has been lowered to the higher of £20,480 per annum or £10.10 per hour. Care workers have also been added to the Shortage Occupation List.
These changes will be in place until at least the start of 2023 at which point a review will be undertaken.
Seasonal Worker visa
A new £10.10 per hour salary requirement has been introduced into the seasonal worker visa.
If you require any support with your Business Immigration needs, or if you would like to understand how any of the upcoming changes may affect your business please contact us on 01274 864999.
Author: Charlotte Geesin, Legal Director at Howarths