The government’s new Global Mobility Routes (GMR) go live on 11 April 2022. GMR will cover 5 separate sub-categories, only one of which (“Secondment Worker”) is a new provision. Where changes have been made to a predecessor category, we believe the changes are likely to discourage rather than promote UK inward investment, creating cumbersome eligibility criteria and application mechanisms. In this article, we also touch on the new largely non-sponsored routes, the High Potential Individual (HPI) and Scale Up routes, likely to go live on 30th May 2022.
The new Global Mobility Routes
The common features of these five new routes are:
- None of the Global Mobility Routes of themselves will accrue the right to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- All will require some form of Sponsorship via a UK Licenced employer.
The five routes in more detail:
- Senior / Specialist Workers
This replaces the current ICT framework. Save for raising the gross minimum annual salary threshold to the higher of £42,400 (increased from £ 41,600) or the going rate for the relevant Occupation Code, the change is in name only.
- Graduate Trainees
This replaces the current ICT Graduate Trainee route and again, save for a slightly increased minimum gross annual threshold of £23,100, the system is identical to its predecessor.
- UK Expansion Worker
This will replace the current Representative of an Overseas Business (ROB) route. Whilst some features remain and the English Language requirement will no longer apply, we believe this version, rather than encouraging UK investment, will have the reverse effect. Key changes are:
- The requirement to have a UK registered sponsoring entity which will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the overseas based employee. Given the overseas and sponsoring entities cannot be linked by common ownership and control, we believe the creation of a sponsorship requirement creates an unwanted layer of administration, delay and cost
- Unlike the ROB route, time spent in the UK under this sub-category will not accrue the right to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
- A minimum gross annual salary threshold of £42,400 or £73,900 for those without 12 months tenure overseas will apply.
- Secondment Worker
A newly created provision facilitating overseas workers undertaking “high value contract or investment projects” in the UK with a registered UK entity. Key features are:
- No requirement for common ownership and control between the overseas and UK entities
- The relevant contract must be registered with the UK Home Office which may compromise commercial sensitivities
- The UK Licenced entity will assign a Certificate of Sponsorship for the duration of the intended period in the UK
- There is a minimum skills, but no minimum salary threshold, other than National Minimum Wage.
- Service Suppliers
This replaces the Temporary Workers – International agreements category, with few substantive changes. Key features include:
- Applicable to temporary UK assignments undertaken by an overseas national, whether employed by a corporate overseas service provider or a self-employed, independent industry expert
- The contractual services must be registered with the Home Office and covered by an existing International Trade Agreement between the UK and the relevant countries.
The new HPI and Scale up Routes
The HPI and Scale up routes are both newly created and with one minor caveat, non-sponsored.
- High Potential Individual Route (HPI)
This largely replicates the current UK Graduate Visa, conferring similar rights granted to relevant graduates from certain overseas universities within the 5 years immediately preceding the application.
Key features include:
- Applicable to Under/ Post-Graduates from overseas Universities published annually in the Home Office’s “Global Universities” List
- Candidates will need to meet designated English Language criteria
- A 2/3 year visa duration for Bachelors/Masters graduates/post graduates (2 years) and PhD graduates (3 years).
- Scale Up Route
Key features include:
- Applicable to talented individuals with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK scale-up company to qualify for a fast-track visa
- The sponsoring UK entity will have a Sponsors’ Licence, for which it will need to demonstrate a minimum annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous three-year period, either via turnover or staffing. The sponsoring entity will also require a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period
- The route is a hybrid as candidates are only required to work for their sponsoring employer for the first six months – after this, they are sponsor free
- The scheme is subject to a minimum skills threshold of RQF6 and the higher of a minimum gross annual salary of £33,000 or the going rate for the relevant Occupation Code.