In the past month, we’ve seen some significant changes to UK immigration law, including changes to the Immigration Rules which further the UKVI’s ‘Plan for Growth’ – a pledge to recruit and retain top talent in the UK – and more movement in the direction of digitisation.

As staff are the lifeblood of any organisation, it’s essential that employers are on top of the changes and in this update, we’ve highlighted three key changes for employers.

1. New immigration categories and what this means for employers

The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 15 March 2022 introduced new immigration routes, as well as rebranding existing routes to attract top talent to the UK. These routes are:

  • Global Business Mobility – this consists of sponsored routes for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in or transfer staff to the UK for specific business purposes. These routes opened on 11 April 2022, and some of the routes replace/rebrand existing routes. There are five sub-categories:
    • Senior or Specialist Worker – for senior executives and specialists undertaking temporary assignments at a UK branch or subsidiary of the business they work for. This route replaces the intra-company transfer route.
    • Graduate Trainee – for workers undertaking a placement in the UK as part of a structured training programme. This route replaces the intra-company graduate trainee route.
    • UK Expansion Worker – for teams of workers sent to establish a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business. This route replaces the sole representative provisions in the representative of an overseas business route.
    • Service Supplier – for workers providing a service covered by one of the UK’s trade agreements. This route replaces the supplier provisions in the Temporary Work International Agreement route.
    • Secondment Worker – a brand-new provision for secondments to UK businesses in connection with high value contracts for goods or investment.
  • High Potential Individual – this is a route for non-UK graduates who have graduated from a top 50 global university in the past five years, who will be allowed to enter unsponsored for up to two years. The Global Universities List will be compiled on an annual basis and will consist of all institutions that are ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems: the Times Higher Education World University Rankings; the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings; and the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Applications will be accepted from 30 May 2022.
  • Scaleup route – this route is for existing companies who are experiencing high levels of growth (annualised growth of at least 20%) to recruit talent to the UK. There will be no Immigration Skills Charge and migrants need only be sponsored for an initial six months period. Applications will be accepted from 22 August 2022.

2. Online right to work checks

Since 6 April 2022, employers will be required to conduct online right to work checks on staff who hold:

  • Current Biometric Residence Permit;
  • Current Biometric Residence Card holders;
  • Status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS);
  • Status under the points based immigration system.

Information on how to conduct the online right to work checks can be found in our previous update.

It’s important that employers follow the correct procedures prescribed by the Home Office otherwise, they will fall foul of the guidance which may lead to action being taken against them.

3. Retaining documents – sponsor licence holders

The Home Office has updated Appendix D: guidance for sponsors on keeping documents. Sponsors must retain evidence that each worker has the right to work in the UK and undertake the work in question rather than retaining a copy of each sponsored worker’s current passport. Failure to retain documents in accordance with Appendix D could be deemed a breach of sponsor duties.