The UK government has recently announced a number of changes to the Immigration Rules. There are some key developments that employers should be aware of, including a new temporary visa for Indian and Icelandic nationals, some expansion of the Global Talent route and changes to the visitor rules.

Expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme visa to Icelandic and Indian nationals

The Youth Mobility Scheme is a cultural exchange programme that enables certain individuals between the ages of 18-30 from specific countries to come to the UK to work (or for other purposes) for a temporary period of up to 2 years. 

Individuals do not need to be sponsored by an employer to be able to work and they can be employed in any role, regardless of skills level or salary. As this is a temporary immigration category, it doesn't provide a route to settlement.

There are a number of changes being made to the scheme:

  • Iceland is being added to the list of countries which can use the scheme from 1 January 2022. 1,000 places will be allocated for Icelandic nationals to come to the UK.
  • India will also be added to the scheme from 1 January 2022 and there will be 3,000 places for Indian nationals. However, Indian nationals who want to use this scheme will have additional requirements to satisfy. They will have to either:
    • hold a qualification equal to or above RQF level 6 and provide evidence of that qualification, or;
    • have a minimum of 3 years' work experience in a professional role equivalent to those roles listed in the Skilled Occupational List.

These changes may provide employers with additional visa options if they want to recruit international talent for up to 2 years. The changes impacting Iceland and India are to fulfil the international commitments made by the UK as part of trade negotiations.

The scheme will also be re-branded from T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme to Youth Mobility Scheme. The other countries which currently participate in the scheme are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea and San Marino. 

Global Talent route update

The Global Talent route is for talented and promising individuals in the field of science, digital technology, and the arts and culture who want to work in the UK. Changes are being made to the criteria and evidence required for this route to ensure added flexibility.

In addition, the list of qualifying prizes which enable someone to qualify through this route without having to be endorsed by a recognised UK body, approved by the Home Office (which is a usual requirement) will be significantly expanded.

These changes will come into force on 6 October 2021.

COVID-19 concessions

From 6 October 2021 certain concessions which have helped EU settlement scheme applicants whose continuous residence in the UK had been affected by COVID-19 will end.

These concessions helped certain EU settlement scheme applicants, who had exceeded their permitted absences from the UK and had broken their period of continuous residence. This may be relevant for some of your employees.

It is worth bearing in mind if any employees are based outside of the UK for considerable periods of time, that such absences could impact their immigration status now or in the future. Please contact us for advice on your specific circumstances. 

EU Settlement Scheme changes

The new immigration rules will allow family members who qualify, to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme whilst in the UK as a visitor. This is to replace a concession which is currently in the existing guidance. 

New International Sportsperson visa

A new International Sportsperson visa, for elite sportspersons or qualified sports coaches will be introduced to replace the previous categories under T2 and T5 which dealt with sportspersons. This will be a new simplified dedicated visa arrangement and will launch on 11 October 2021.

Updates to the visitor rules - students and employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers

Changes to the visitor rules for students will mean that if students:

  • are studying at a UK institution from overseas via distance learning they can come to the UK to undertake activities relating to their course.
  • are studying nursing overseas at the equivalent of degree level, they can come to the UK as a visitor to undertake electives with a UK higher education provider, provided these are unpaid and involve no treatment of patients.
  • have been accepted by a UK higher education provider to undertake research or research tuition as part of a course of study they are undertaking overseas, they can do so at a UK research institute, provided a formal partnership exists between the higher education provider and the research institute.

A further change will provide further clarity on when employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers can come to the UK as visitors, in order to install, maintain, service or advise on equipment, software or hardware.

More information

If you have any queries about any of the issues raised in this blog, or would like more information about any of the changes announced please contact Elaine McIlroy, Erin McLafferty or a member of the employment and immigration team.

Workbox by Brodies, our online HR and employment law site also has helpful guidance on the UK points-based immigration system, visa routes and also the EU settlement scheme on our dedicated Immigration pages.