Immigration reforms announced by the Chancellor in his budget today (3 March 2021) suggest less red tape and more access for businesses in certain sectors wishing to recruit overseas talent in the coming years.

Rishi Sunak stated that for the UK to be a scientific superpower and the best place in the world to work, the country requires “scientific superstars,” which are often overseas nationals.

This article looks at what was announced today in the budget and how these changes may benefit your business.

High-skilled migration

The most notable announcement was the introduction of a new ‘elite points based visa’ for highly skilled workers, specifically scientists, researchers, academics and those working in the technology sector. Under the new system, highly skilled migrants with job offers from recognised UK scale-up companies in these fields may qualify for a fast-track visa without the need for formal sponsorship or endorsement. This is welcome news for many companies, particularly in the FinTech industry, where it is reported that approximately 42% of workers are overseas nationals.

The purpose behind these reforms is to encourage the UK’s position as a top destination for talent in the fastest growing sectors, thereby driving innovation and growth as the economy rebuilds over the next few years.

Introduction of the new Global Business Mobility visa

Alongside the new elite points based visa, the government have committed to launching a new Global Business Mobility visa by spring 2022. This will allow overseas businesses to establish a UK presence or transfer staff to the UK. It is not presently known how this will differ from the existing intra company transfer route, but watch this space for further detail in the coming months.

Reform of the Global Talent and Innovator visas

The Chancellor has also confirmed that the Government plan to reform the existing Global Talent visa, with a view to allowing migrants who have been awarded scholarships or international prizes to qualify under this route automatically. In addition, there are plans to review the Innovator visa to ensure that overseas nationals who have the skills and experience to set up and run innovative businesses in the UK are able to secure their visa more easily than ever before. It is hoped that cutting down the bureaucracy involved in applications will increase the number of innovators choosing the UK to set up or develop their businesses.

Modernisation of the existing immigration sponsorship system

It will be a relief to many that the Government intends to modernise the existing sponsorship system in the UK in order to make it more user friendly. On the back of this, specialist teams in the Home Office are being set up to provide practical support to smaller companies who are using the system for the first time. The Government will publish a delivery roadmap for this in the summer.

It is thought that the changes announced today will be a welcome boost for businesses across the South West in the science, research and technology fields, who have struggled to recruit talent from overseas, often due to the financial and administrative constraints the existing sponsor licence scheme entails.

In the Budget, the Chancellor has made a commitment to simplifying bureaucracy for high skilled visa applications, thereby minimising the burden on businesses and entrepreneurs. We do not have the full detail yet on timescales or how the system will work in practice, but it is anticipated that this new visa will go live in March 2022 with the Government setting out the finer detail later on this year.

The reforms are expected to be made through changes to the UK Immigration Rules over the course of the next 12 months.