immigration changes

Yesterday (4 March 2021) saw the Home Office setting out yet more immigration changes in the most recent Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, which are due to come into force in the UK on 5 April 2021. So what changes are afoot this year?

Further changes to the Skilled Worker Route

The Skilled Worker route is for applicants with a confirmed job offer from an approved employer sponsor in the UK. You can read the detail of this in our article here.

The first of several changes announced yesterday to this route were the welcome additions to The Shortage Occupation List. Most notably, eight occupations have been added from the Health and Social Care Sector, following recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee in September 2020, including:

  • Health professionals;
  • Physiotherapists;
  • Senior care workers; and
  • Nursing auxiliaries and assistants.

Of particular importance to the South West, deckhands of large fishing vessels (nine metres and above) and vent chick sexers have also been added to the list of occupations which are eligible for this route. In both cases jobs are only eligible where the worker has at least three years’ full time experience in using said skills.

The Home Office have also clarified that the minimum salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route need to be calculated by the hour and not just annually. Minimum pay can be no less than £10.10 per hour, even if the annual salary is above the required £25,600 per year.

The new Graduate visa

The long awaited Graduate Route will finally go live on 1 July 2021, which will be a relief to students in all parts of the UK.

This route is for international students who have successfully completed an eligible course with a Home Office approved sponsor (a higher education provider with a track record of compliance). It provides these students a further two years in the UK following completion of their studies (or three years for those awarded PhDs), during which they can work or look for work at any skill level. Applications must be made from within the UK whilst the applicant has a valid Student or Tier 4 visa. The introduction of this route will significantly improve the UK’s offer to international students.

The Global Talent category

The Home Office has also made changes to the Global Talent route “to allow applicants who have reached the pinnacle of their careers to bypass the endorsement requirement and expedite the application process.” This category is specifically for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, digital technology, arts and culture, who wish to work in the UK. At present, to be successful under this category individuals are required to obtain endorsement from one of the six endorsing bodies approved by the Home Office. This process can be long winded and often off-putting to applicants.

With the changes announced in the Chancellor’s Budget on Wednesday (available here) and this Statement of Changes, applicants will be able to bypass the endorsement requirement if they have received a prestigious prize. The winning of awards such as Oscars, Golden Globes and Novel Prizes (to name a few) will qualify the holder for a Global Talent visa without the need for any other endorsement by an organisation in the UK.