Six things for Indian businesses to consider before expanding to the UK

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According to the UK’s Department for International Trade the proposed trade arrangement between India and the UK should be finalised by 2023, ahead of the general elections in both countries the following year. The arrangement said to be ‘worth billions’, will present huge opportunities for Indian businesses and could double trade between the two nations by 2030.

Sneha Nainwal, our head of our India desk, shares why now is the ideal time for Indian businesses to consider expanding to the UK, and what they need to consider before making the move.

1. Have a business plan

Although it is not a legal requirement, having a business plan could help secure additional investment in the future. By rationalising the decision to expand to the UK, and in turn highlighting the opportunities, a business plan presents investors with a clear picture of the potential rewards.

2. Think about your company structure

As Indian and English laws share many similarities, company structures available for new businesses in the UK will be familiar to Indian enterprises.

Private limited company (Ltd)

This is one of the most common corporate structures in the UK. Not only is it a low cost and speedy option (registering a limited company can cost just £12 and take as little as 24 hours), it’s also an attractive option for Indian entities looking to create UK affiliates, as the directors of the company do not have to live in the UK on a permanent basis.

However, limited company structures restrict a business to only seeking private investment to fund growth and development.

Public limited company (PLC)

A public limited company, in tandem with a listing on a stock exchange, may be more suitable businesses planning to expand (or larger, more established companies seeking to tap markets), as this structure allows access to a broader range of investment.

Limited liability partnerships (LLPs)

Other structures, such as limited liability partnerships, have the advantage of not being required to pay corporation tax.

3. Understand the UK’s corporate governance requirements

When expanding to the UK business need to be aware of UK corporate governance, including the form of a company’s articles of association (the rules and constitution governing a business). Certain business decisions must be made in accordance with these articles of association and evidence of some of the decisions will need to be filed publicly at Companies House, the UK registrar of companies. If not, a financial penalty may be issued.

There are two options for businesses looking to expand to the UK:

  • Model articles, which are provided under the Companies Act 2006. These are generally more suited to smaller companies: or

  • Tailored articles of association that are specific to their business. These would better suit larger companies or those with complex structures.

4. Consider the most suitable location

Location is key when it comes to setting up a business.

London and the Southeast are hotbeds for entrepreneurs, particularly those in the finance and fintech sector, with almost one third of start-ups in the UK based in the region. The Southeast also has easy access to the main UK airports and transport links, making it an attractive option for globally linked service industries, such as banking, finance, and legal services

However, property in the Southeast, and particularly London, can be very expensive. Therefore, businesses should carefully consider whether having a presence in these locations is essential, especially when setting up.

Although London remains a prestigious destination for global businesses, other UK cities also have plenty to offer.

The Midlands and the North of England have strong connections to the automotive and energy industries, with Birmingham, Manchester, Humberside and the Northeast excelling in sectors such as driverless cars and industrial hydrogen technologies. Businesses involved with new technology hubs in these regions are likely to have a clear advantage when working towards reaching net zero targets in the UK – mainly due to their proximity to a host of potential new partners, collaborators, and customers.

Real estate, warehouse costs (and general living expenses) are much cheaper outside of London and the Southeast. Therefore Indian companies may want to consider basing themselves in the Midlands and Northeast to take advantage of cheaper costs and established sector reputations. There are also good transport links (by rail, road, air and sea), which makes these regions a desirable option.

5. Assess immigration requirements for your workforce

Business owners will need to consider visa types and requirements for any workforce members that will be migrating from India to the UK. There are a range of immigration visas available, including:

  • Innovator

  • Start-up

  • Global Talent; and

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas

Read more about all the options that are available to you and how we can help you navigate the UK immigration system.

6. Open up a UK bank account

Although businesses don’t need to have a UK bank account to conduct business in the UK, it can be more convenient to make and receive payments in the country.

However, setting up a UK bank account can be a time-consuming process, so we advise to start the process of opening one as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays.

The UK is an attractive option for Indian businesses

Setting up a company in the UK may seem like a daunting process, but with the right support and resources, it is a relatively straightforward task.

The UK can provide ample opportunities for Indian companies looking to grow and thrive in a new and promising marketplace. By making prudent and well-informed decisions early on, Indian businesses can position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the India-UK trade partnership.

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Sneha Nainwal is the Head of India Desk at Shakespeare Martineau. Sneha is dual-qualified to practise law in India and England & Wales.

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Government scraps ‘golden visas’ – what this means for foreign investors and the UK economy

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What is a ‘golden visa’?

A Golden Visa is a ‘citizenship by investment’ or ‘residency by investment’ program. It is directed to wealthy foreign nationals who want to acquire residency in a certain country by investing a substantial amount of money in active and trading UK registered companies. Previously those eligible for the visa had to have at least £2 million in investment funds and a UK bank account.

Why have ‘golden visas’ been axed?

The Home Office has closed the Investor visa route for all new applications with immediate effect from 4 pm on 17 February stating that some cases had “given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption”.

What impact will scrapping the ‘golden visa’ scheme have on the UK economy?

Axing this scheme, especially at such short notice, will have a significant long-term impact on the UK economy at an already unsteady time.

With no alternative visa route at present, this not only impacts future investments, but those already in progress. Legitimate overseas investors will now be left high and dry, not to mention the many families that were planning to move to the UK this year having already invested in real estate and secured places in UK schools for their children.

While the UK’s innovator visa route could provide alternative access to the UK for high-net-worth Europeans who can no longer take advantage of Free Movement, this provides much less flexibility for wealthy foreign investors, requiring them to set up and run a business in the UK. While we are expecting Home Office reforms to the Innovator, it need to come with an investment route that successfully supports the UK economy. The ‘golden visa’ scheme was also the only one that had no English language requirement, allowing recipients the freedom to work, study and do business in the UK, and provide holders with a fast track route to UK residency. The loss of this is significant.

It’s unlikely that the scheme will be replaced with an alternative at present as the closure was triggered by concerns over it being open to abuse, despite the fact that the Home Office previously reformed the scheme with a view to prevent corruption and improve its value to the UK economy. More must be done to keep the UK an attractive place to live, work and invest.

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Seasonal worker visa and other options introduced for farm workers post-Brexit

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Visa options for farm workers introduced

Pre-Brexit, EU nationals were able to move and work freely within Europe. While farm labour shortages have been an issue for several years, there is no doubt the situation has worsened since Brexit restricted the influx of seasonal workers.

Now freedom of movement has come to an end, the number of EU nationals in employment in the UK fell by almost 5% – from 2.3m to 2.2m – since the end of 2019 to the end of June 2021, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As a consequence of Brexit, the EU Settlement Scheme was created to secure the rights of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their families living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

Applicants acquire either settled or pre-settled status, depending on whether they have lived in the UK for five years or more, or less than five years respectively.

While this has been helpful to securing an existing pre-Brexit workforce, it does not fully help with the labour shortages in the agriculture sector as historically, many seasonal workers from the EU would travel to the UK for a particular season and then return home.

Some farms have hit the headlines for offering workers £30 an hour to pick produce, which shows how difficult recruitment has become since the UK’s departure from the EU.

To try and ease workforce shortages, the government has introduced a seasonal worker visa and, more recently, announced a temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers and poultry workers. There are also numerous other visas and permits farming businesses may be able to benefit from.

Temporary Seasonal Worker visa

Short-staffed farmers are claiming they need more migrant workers to harvest their crops, which is classed by the government as “low-skilled” work.

Pre-Brexit, the majority of these workers would typically come from the EU on a seasonal basis; in October 2020, the National Farmers Union said only 11% of seasonal workers in 2020 were UK residents.

In response, the government introduced a Seasonal Worker pilot scheme in 2019, initially for two years. It was extended in December 2020 for a further year.

The Seasonal Worker visa enables the recruitment of a limited number of temporary migrants – 30,000 in 2021 – for specific roles in the edible horticultural sector. This means that, in order to meet the requirements for the visa, the type of produce being farmed must be either: protected vegetables, grown in glasshouse systems; field vegetables grown outdoors; soft fruit grown both outdoors or under cover; top fruit; vines and bines; or mushrooms.

Workers must apply through an operator that has been approved by Defra and the Home Office, which will sponsor migrants for UK visas. Currently, there are four licenced operators: AG Recruitment and Management Ltd, Fruitful Jobs, Concordia Ltd, and Pro-Force Ltd.

Once a temporary Seasonal Worker visa has been secured, workers are able to come to the UK to carry out their specified farm work for a maximum of six months in a 12-month period. They aren’t able to bring dependents with them and there is no route to settlement.

While this will help the sector in the short-term, it doesn’t go far enough as only specific roles are covered. At some point, it’s likely this route will be pulled altogether too.

Skilled Worker visa

Farmers looking to recruit “skilled workers” could sponsor an EEA or non-EEA national via the government’s skilled worker route.

Employers must check whether the job they are recruiting for is eligible for this type of visa. They can do this by finding the job’s occupation code via the ONS’ occupation coding tool and checking this against the government’s Skilled Worker visa eligible list.

In the agricultural sector, skilled workers could include farm managers or owners, agricultural contractors or technicians, crofters, farmers, herd managers, arboricultural consultants, bee farmers, gamekeepers, and poultry butchers or processors, according to the list.

If the job is eligible for the skilled worker route, the salary paid must be at least £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’ for a particular role – whichever is the highest. In some circumstances, sponsors may be able to offer a lower salary if certain criteria are met, but no lower than £20,480.

Workers must also prove they can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Skilled Worker visa applicants will need a job offer from a farm willing to employ them before they can apply. The first step for a farm is, therefore, to secure a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, which enables a business to issue certificates of sponsorship to applicants so they can get their visa.

Applications for a sponsor licence can be done online. They require a business to prove it is a genuine employer with a lawful trading presence in the UK, as well show it can offer genuine employment that meets the skill and salary thresholds of the skilled worker route.

The Home Office also requires the organisation to nominate certain individuals, primarily based in the UK, to take on roles – including an authorising officer, key contact and level 1 user – in respect of the sponsor licence.

There is a fee involved too, which depends on the size and type of organisation. Medium and large businesses are required to pay £1,476, which reduces to £536 for small sponsors.

Once a licence is approved, which usually takes around eight weeks, it will be valid for four years with the option for renewal. The application fee will be payable each time the licence is renewed.

Larger employers sponsoring migrant workers are likely to have a dedicated team dealing with sponsorship duties. However, a lot of agricultural businesses are small, family-run organisations, so the entire process can be very admin-heavy.

Temporary visa scheme

Last month (September 2021), the government announced temporary visas for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to attempt to ease the supply chain burdens both in the haulage and food industries.

The move aims to ensure HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry. It also hopes that farmers and food producers will have access to the necessary workforce to mitigate any potential risks to Christmas food supply.

Since then, the CLA has also called on the government to step in and support the pig sector, which is experiencing labour supply issues at pork processing plants.

Temporary visas are not a long-term solution and are part of the government’s package in an attempt to resolve an existing problem that has been aggravated by both Covid and Brexit.

How the visa scheme will work in practice and whether a temporary visa will in fact relieve the pressure on supply chains just before the festivities will no doubt be revealed over the upcoming weeks.

Frontier Worker permit

The Frontier Worker permit was launched in December 2020 via the Citizens’ Rights (Frontier Workers)(EU Exit) Regulations 2020 to enable cross-border EEA citizen workers to continue with their flexible arrangements, without having to make applications under the post-Brexit points-based system.

A person is a Frontier Worker if they were immediately before the end of the transition period (11pm 31 December 2020) and have been continuously since the end of the transition period an EEA national; not primarily resident in the UK; either a worker in the UK, a self-employed person in the UK or a person treated as a worker or self-employed person in the UK by virtue of regulation 4 of the Regulations.

Applicants will be regarded as being not normally resident in the UK if they have been in the UK for less than 180 days in the 12-month period before the relevant date; or they have returned to their country of residence at least once in the last six-month period or twice in the 12-month period before the relevant date, unless there are exceptional reasons for not having done so. The relevant date can be any date from the end of the transition period.

Applicants need to demonstrate the work they carry out is genuine and effective and not marginal and ancillary to their situation as a whole in the UK.

As a Frontier Worker must have worked in the UK before the end of the transition period and continued to do so since the end of the transition period, the permit is quite limited. Someone new to the labour market wouldn’t be able to apply, for example.

There is the potential for farm businesses to benefit from this route, but it does depend on a worker’s circumstances as it won’t help everyone.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa

Those aged 18 to 30 who want to live and work in the UK for up to two years can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, providing they have £2,530 in their bank account to show they are able to support themselves.

The visa is currently only eligible for a British Overseas Citizen, British Overseas Territories Citizen, British National (Overseas) or nationals from Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino. Nationals from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan must apply for a ballot to receive an invitation to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa. Nationals from Iceland and India are soon to be added to the list. There is no sponsorship required by a business employing someone via this visa route.

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa tends to be utilised by young people without their own families who want to travel around the UK. An applicant will not be eligible if they have a child under the age of 18 who is either living with them or financially dependent upon them. Youth Mobility visa holders are eligible to work to support themselves, so there is the potential for farmers to benefit from this.

Looking ahead

Many farms have said the shortage of labour has made their business unviable and the National Farmers Union has repeated calls for more support from the government. In response, a spokesperson said the government was looking at ways to help the sector recruit more domestic labour.

The temporary measures that have been introduced may help the industry in the short-term, but many believe they won’t work to solve the problem in the long-term.

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Intra-Company Transfer Visa Update: Are you looking to transfer staff to the UK for temporary work assignments?

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Multi-national companies have been transferring skilled staff for work around the world for many years but how does this work when coming to work in the UK under the points based immigration system?

Multi-national companies have been transferring skilled staff for work around the world for many years but how does this work when coming to work in the UK under the points based immigration system?  

The UK has the short term Intra Company Transfer visa route to allow established employees of an overseas entity to be transferred to the UK to carry out their work in a skilled job on a temporary basis. 

Last month the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the UK’s current route to ensure it complies with the UK’s commitments under free trade agreements and to advise on eligibility criteria for workers and sending organisations. MAC recently published their detailed review of the Intra Company Transfer route 2021 on 13 October. 

What are the proposed changes employers can expect? 
  • General salary thresholds are expected to increase from £41,500 to £42,400 for the main route and decrease for graduate transfers from the current £23,000 to £20,840 
  • Intra-Company Transfer does not lead to settlement today. However this could be an option in the future with any time spent in the UK counting towards settlement where staff switch from this category into another route.  
  • A new 12 month secondment visa is being considered with the possibility of a single renewal where there is a contract between an employer’s overseas and UK entity in excess of £50 million, and the business has been operating for at least 12 months 
  • A new short term route could be introduced to amend current visitor rules to cover specialist technical work which only requires a few days or weeks to complete 
  • The Immigration Skills Charge will remain, however this will not apply to EU nationals under this route from 1 January 2023 further to the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement 
What can employers expect to remain? 
  • The skills threshold that is currently RQF level 6 is expected to remain the same, so employers can only sponsor staff in jobs that are at degree level and above 
  • Employers can only transfer staff that have been employed in their overseas organisation for at least 12 months (unless paid a minimum of £73,900 a year) or three months for graduate transfers 
  • Sponsored staff will still not be required to meet an English language requirement in comparison to the Skilled worker visa route 

Employers should be mindful that MAC’s report details recommendations made to the Home Office at this stage so it remains to be seen exactly what approach will be taken towards this UK work. If MAC’s report is however reflected, it could result in some significant changes for the Intra Company Transfer route over the next year.   

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Tijen is widely recognized as an expert in UK business immigration. She represents high net worth entrepreneurs with inward investment and helps them navigate through the complexities of the rules and practicalities of relocation.

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UK government to launch short term visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers next month

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The shortage of labour in the UK continues post Brexit and this time it could have an impact on Christmas. The government has had to act fast to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers and poultry workers, but is it little too late?

Temporary Visa Scheme

The government has announced temporary visas to be added to existing visas schemes that will begin in October for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers to attempt to ease the supply chain burdens both in the haulage and food industries. The UK Visas and Immigration are preparing to ensure visas are processed promptly that will be valid until 24 December 2021.

This move aims to ensure HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for three months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry and that farmers and food producers have access to the necessary workforce to mitigate any potential risks to Christmas food supply - something UK food and drink manufacturers have been asking for over the last few months.

Temporary visa are not a long term solution and are part of government’s package in an attempt to resolve an existing problem that has been aggravated by both Covid and Brexit. How the visa scheme will work in practice and whether a temporary visa will in fact relieve the pressure on supply chains just before the festivities, will no doubt be revealed over the upcoming weeks.

 

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Recruitment challenges lie ahead for the social care sector

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Recruitment and the social care sector

Recruitment and retention have been ongoing challenges for the social care sector for many years, and the end of free movement means they’re unlikely to improve any time soon.

Historically, workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) have been a lifeline for the sector but with further barriers created for those living abroad, this may be about to change. As well as causing difficulties for applicants, the new immigration scheme has significantly increased the amount of administration involved for care homes.

Obtaining a sponsor licence

It is now essential for applicants to be sponsored by their employer, in order to gain a work visa.

This is an additional responsibility for care homes, which will be tasked with applying for and maintaining a sponsor licence, which can be renewed every four years. Having a licence will require additional compliance for employers and failure to meet their responsibilities may result in scrutiny, UK Visa and Immigration sponsor team.

Financial implications

It should be noted that a sponsor licence isn’t free. Alongside the Government visa fees, the total cost for a single applicant working for a medium to large organisation could cost and employer a minimum of £5,500.

There is also the issue of the minimum salary threshold for work visas, which is currently set at £25,600. Many of the roles in the social care sector would fall below this figure, meaning care homes would need to increase salaries to fill the gaps.

These significant financial considerations now raise the question of whether sponsoring someone from outside the UK is financially viable for organizations. Especially when it cannot be guaranteed how long a worker will stay in the role.

The Government’s stance

In 2020, the Government did introduce a specific Health and Care Worker visa to reduce the issues affecting the sector, but this is largely targeted towards those working for the NHS and many care workers will not be eligible.

However, the Shortage Occupation List may provide some much-needed support if difficulties continue. Once a job role is placed on the list, applicants can trade points against a salary that is up to 20% below the minimum salary threshold, preventing the need for increased salaries. The Home Office has commissioned Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake an independent review of the impact of the immigration changes on the adult social care workforce that closes on 29 October 2021. Over the next few months it is vital for employers and representative organisations, who are facing extreme recruitment difficulties to engage with MAC to ensure their voice is heard.

Mandatory vaccination

Despite a social care recruitment drive recently being launched, there are many issues still deterring people from working in the sector, such as low pay and high stress. The introduction of mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations from 11 November 2021 is also unlikely to help.

Although the reason behind making the vaccine mandatory is reasonable, it does run the risk of putting more people off the care sector. While employers are able to rely on a legislative basis for dismissing staff who refuse to have the vaccine, it would still leave them in a tricky situation.

Mandatory vaccines will also result in further administrative tasks for care home operators, with robust policies needed to clearly define the requirements of both workers and visitors.

This could be even more complicated for foreign workers, as every country has its own vaccination process. While there is the potential for Home Office-approved clinics being set up in each country, which would allow visa applicants to get a certificate to confirm that they’ve been vaccinated, this would come as an additional cost to the employer.

The social care sector faces some considerable recruitment challenges moving forward, and gaps will need to be filled. Having an understanding of the new immigration system is vital, helping to avoid any further difficulties later down the line.

Get in touch with our  healthcare or business immigration team to find out how they can help.

Watch our Immigration Webinar

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Tijen works with global UK businesses advising on strategic international recruitment and supports with immigration compliance facilitating assignments and relocation.

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Immigration expert joins Shakespeare Martineau

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Law firm Shakespeare Martineau is growing its Lincoln presence and boosting its immigration legal offering with the appointment of Calum Hanrahan.

Calum, who joins as a solicitor, has more than six years’ experience in immigration law, working with individuals, families and businesses.

Specialising in personal immigration planning, which will be a new service offering for Shakespeare Martineau, Calum has helped many people successfully apply for British citizenship, as well as apply for visas for individuals, spouses and children, including working with those who have previously had applications refused.

Calum’s appointment follows a raft of new hires for Shakespeare Martineau in Lincoln, including the recent appointment of employment expert and partner Helen Molloy.

Calum said:

Calum_Hanrahan-circle
Having spent my entire career working in Lincolnshire, it’s an area close to my heart. Despite being such a large county it has a really close-knit community feel to it, where relationships mean a lot.

“I’m excited to bring a new service to the firm and work with the wider team, across corporate, employment and family law. Being able to tap into the expertise of hundreds of lawyers across our UK offices, as well as non-UK jurisdictional expertise through Multilaw membership, means that we really do bring something different to the local Lincolnshire market.

“I’ve been so impressed with the culture at Shakespeare Martineau and the ambitions it has and looks forward to raising our profile in Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.

Michael Squirrell, corporate partner at the Shakespeare Martineau Lincoln office, said: “Calum’s appointment adds another valuable string to our bow. For a long time our immigration team has specialised in supporting businesses; Calum brings another dimension to this, being able to deal with family immigration, including human rights immigration and applications for British citizenship.

“Not only are we expanding our service offering, but we also continue our investment in the Lincolnshire market, a region in which we see a lot of potential and have built a lot of traction since our opening in January.

Get In Contact

Michael is a corporate and commercial lawyer with particular passions for digital & tech, intellectual property and advising charities.

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Business Immigration Update August 2021: What employers need to know

Blog | Business Immigration

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Remote Right to Work checks to continue until 5 April 2022

The Home Office has confirmed that the end of the temporary COVID-adjusted right to work measures that was due to end on 31 August 2021 has been extended to 5 April 2022. This means employers can continue to conduct remote checks to support their employees in the new world of remote working. This will allow the UK government some time to review their revised plans to be implemented from 6 April 2022 onwards. They have indicated they intend to adopt a new, more secure, long-term digital service for remote right to work checks, which will also include a provision for both UK and Irish nationals.

The Home Office announced earlier in the year that employers will not have to carry out retrospective checks once the COVID-19 adjustments end for all checks done between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 inclusive.

Government plans for new sponsorship system for workers and students

With the end of free movement between the UK and the European Union, employers have experienced an entire revamp of the UK immigration system that was launched at the beginning of 2021. Such changes as new immigration categories have been introduced, a makeover of the points based system impacting skilled workers and students and changes to the visa application process, which some may say, has been triggered by the global pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Home Office has published its 12 page sponsorship roadmap, which promises to deliver ‘radical changes to the sponsorship process, making it easier for users to understand and navigate, and substantially reducing the time it takes to bring someone to the UK’.

Their main objectives will focus on:

We also expect continued changes to be implemented to the current system between now and early 2022, to include review of government fees, the introduction of a skilled worker eligibility tool and the launch of a pilot salary checking tool in conjunction with HMRC. Watch this space!

  • Quicker processing times, from applying for a sponsor licence to a worker being approved their visa to start or continue their employment;

  • Improving employer’s experience of using the sponsorship system to reduce the burden on them to maintain their licence and providing the functionality and transparency they have much desired for years; and

  • Preventing abuse of the system with effective management of information risk.

Sponsor licence priority service

Since Brexit, the number of UK-based employers applying for a licence to sponsor non-UK workers has increased significantly, and even more so over the last few months since the Brexit “grace period” for EU nationals ended on 30 June 2021. It currently takes the UKVI up to eight weeks to process a sponsor licence application so to keep up with the demand, they introduced a pre-licence priority service at the end of 2020, costing employers an additional £500 for their application to be expedited from eight weeks to two weeks. So far so good, so where is the catch? While this is a positive initiative for faster processing for businesses that need to recruit fast, it is not entirely clear how the priority service is allocated. It is limited in numbers with a maximum of ten applications per day available on a first come first serviced and if applications are not accepted they fall into the normal processing standards without any communication to employers and with a £500 price tag, many businesses will simply not afford it. It remains to be seen whether this ‘service’ has any future at all, particularly with its current offering.

Shakespeare Martineau's business immigration team can help you to secure a sponsor licence for your business so that you can employ skilled foreign workers from outside of the UK and continue to operate post-Brexit.

Get In Contact

Tijen works with global UK businesses advising on strategic international recruitment and supports with immigration compliance facilitating assignments and relocation.

The EU Settlement Scheme which was introduced two years ago now allowing EEA nationals and their family members to register their rights to live and work in the UK post-Brexit will close on 30 June 2021. What will this mean for UK employers?

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Government’s ‘Innovation strategy’ aims to attract top talent to the UK

New Legislation

UK Innovation Strategy aims to attract international talent

 

On the 22 July 2021, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published a policy paper which sets out the UK Government’s ambitious plans to “make the UK a world-leader in science, research and innovation”.

The Innovation Strategy sets out their vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035 with the intention to make the UK the easiest country in the world for top innovative talent to enter

What does the Innovation Strategy say?

As part of the growth plan, the UK government intends to introduce two key immigration routes and revitalise the innovator visa to open the UK to top talented highly skilled migrants.

These new reforms are expected in a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules later this year.

Immigration routes:

  • The High Potential Individual route

    Open to those who have graduated from a top global university. Unlike other immigration routes, this route is unsponsored so UK employers will not need a sponsor licence and individuals will not require a job offer.

    This route will give eligible foreign nationals flexibility to work, and switch to jobs or employers, settle in the UK and make contributions to the UK economy.

  • The Scale-Up Visa

    Open to skilled migrant workers who have a job offer from a qualifying ‘Scale Up’ business at the required salary level to enter the UK.

    Scale-Ups can through a fast-track verification process and must demonstrate an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20% in addition to a minimum of ten employees at the start of the three-year period. This route will give greater flexibility to work in the UK and to move between different employers, extend visas and settled in the UK, subject to meeting specific requirements.

  • A revitalised Innovator route

    An existing immigration route for talented innovators and entrepreneurs from overseas to start and operate a business in the UK that is venture-backed or harnesses innovative technologies, creating jobs for the UK workers and boosting growth.

    Changes will mean applicants will no longer be required to have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply. Applicants will need to show that their business has a high potential to grow and add value to the UK, and that it is innovative, instead of having to prove growth in international markets, as is the case currently. The revamp of this route intends to make the route more accessible and desirable.

Get in touch

Whether the policy paper will confront bureaucracy and give control back to entrepreneurs remains to be seen but these reforms are a certainly step in the right direction. They will sit alongside the Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) that has a track record of success in attracting high skilled migrant tech founders with IP-rich businesses to the UK.

If you require any assistance with doing business in the UK or require information on the latest immigration development, contact our business immigration team

Business Immigration

Against an ever-changing global and political backdrop, we know it’s harder than ever to plan for the future. Whilst it seems that more borders are being built than broken down, the movement of people will remain integral to the continued success of international business and investment.

Speak to us about your business immigration needs today.

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Blog

What does Brexit mean for recruitment in the hospitality sector?

Brexit has made the right to work and live in the UK considerably more restricted for EU citizens, which will significantly impact employers, particularly in the hospitality sector.

The difficulties ahead

Although the hospitality industry is often faced with difficulties regarding retaining and attracting workers, Brexit and the pandemic have exacerbated this.

Extended periods of furlough have forced staff to look for work elsewhere and now new visa requirements are causing foreign workers to be turned away at the border, leaving hospitality businesses facing a considerable employment gap.

New entry requirements for foreign workers

Those looking to work in the UK from the EU now need a skilled work visa, which may require sponsorship. For a business to do this, it requires a sponsor licence which does carry a financial cost.

Workers must also meet the skill and salary levels set by the Home Office, in-line with the new points-based system. The general minimum salary threshold is £25,600 per year and the minimum qualification level is RQF3, which is equivalent to job role at an A-level. Those on a lower salary may still apply by trading points, providing they can meet the threshold with qualifications or experience.

However, this could be a considerable barrier for the hospitality sector, due to the significant number of “low-skilled” roles.

Applicants must also be offered a full-time position within the UK, which for bars and restaurants relying on zero-hours contracts, complicates things.

Possible hurdles to overcome

As the industry slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels, staff shortages in areas such as waiting and food preparation will be the main hurdles for venues.

Longer term, changes to the wages of hospitality staff may be necessary. However, this runs the risk of becoming a substantial overhead for businesses still financially recovering from the pandemic.

Hospitality may also have to shift its foreign talent pools and develop new bilateral relations with other countries such as Australia.

Finding a solution

Until the industry can overcome the challenges facing foreign workers, there are other short-term solutions that can be utilised:

 

  • Youth Mobility Scheme: Available to those from certain countries between 18 and 30 years old, this allows people to live and work in the UK for up to two years. EU nationals aren’t currently included, but this may be subject to change.

 

  • Graduate Visa Scheme: Having launched in July 2021, this scheme is aimed at international graduates already living in the UK. It will allow degree-level students to stay and work for two years and PhD students for three without sponsorship.
Moving forward

It is important that any areas facing extreme difficulties with recruiting workers make it known through stakeholders a call for evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

MAC can then make recommendations to the Government, with roles facing shortages potentially added to the Shortage Occupation list. Jobs placed on this list will not have to meet salary requirements to be approved for a visa.

While Brexit and the pandemic have taken a huge toll on the industry, it’s not all negative. Over 6 million EU citizens applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, enabling the industry to move forward with those already living and working in the UK.

Get in touch to find out how our business immigration team can help.

We have launchedourguide to recovery and resilience, helping to support businesses and individuals unlock their potential, navigate their way out of lockdown and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found onourdedicated coronavirus resource hub.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. VisitSHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director's responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring,fundingand disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call0800 689 4064.

 

 

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The end is near: COVID-19 right to work guidance update

Updated 18 June: Following the government’s delay on lifting restrictions, The Home Office has updated the Right to Work checks guidance for business’ and their employees during COVID-19.
What does the updated guidance say?

Since 30 March 2020 concession have been in place to allow employers to complete their right to work checks virtually – preventing many employees from attending their work offices as normal.

The Home Office has confirmed this concession will now end on 31 August 2021 and employers will once again be required to conduct the usual pre COVID-19 right to work checks on their employees on or before their first working day, and for follow up checks before the visa end date. More significantly, employers do not need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 31 August 2021. They will maintain a defence against a civil penalty if the check they have undertaken during this period was done in the prescribed manner, or as set out in the COVID-19 adjusted checks guidance.

What should employers do?

To prevent compliance risks, it is recommended that employers review their internal processes to anticipate usual Right to Work check processes resuming from 1 September 2021. Scanned and digital copies of original documents will no longer be acceptable and they will not provide a defence against enforcement action. Employers must be presented with the physical document in its original form, unless using the Home Office’s online checking service.

This raises its own challenges, given many businesses are not considering a return to the office any time soon, if at all. Due to the impact of COVID-19, some individuals may struggle to show evidence of their right to work; therefore employers are urged to take extra care to prevent discrimination against job applicants or employees because they are unable to show their documents.

The Home Office’s online Right to Work checking service is available in respect of individuals who hold a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), or who have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or points-based immigration system. This service can only be used with the permission of the individual, and employers must be careful not to discriminate against those who refuse to allow access to their records.

What happens if someone is employed who cannot legally work in the UK?

Failure to perform right to work checks correctly could result in unwanted Home Office scrutiny and serious ramifications, including;

  • Civil penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • Court-ordered closure of businesses;
  • Prison sentences for individuals involved; and
  • Revocation or limiting sponsor licences for businesses.
We’re here if you have any queries

If you require any assistance about right to work checks and general compliance, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Your summer guide to recovery and resilience in COVID-19

Your updated summer guide to recovery and resilience

As the UK takes its first steps to ease the current national restrictions and looks forward to an increase in economic activity and recovery it is vital that businesses are prepared in every aspect.

To support businesses and people navigate their way out of the last year and the current national restrictions, unlock their potential and drive for a brighter future, we have updated our guide to recovery and resilience.

From financial considerations, employees, leadership and premises, to supply chain implications, health and safety and protecting your private wealth, our guide highlights what organisations and individuals should consider when moving from survival to recovery to thrive.

Financial considerations

Whether a large corporate with a highly structured board, an SME or an owner-managed business, the financial viability of a business is key to its future success.   However, as the thoughts turn to the roadmap out of lockdown once again, and what the future may look like, businesses that have got through the last year should consider a range of measures to enable them to cope with what is likely be a recession for some industry sectors of the UK. Prudent business owners will be well aware of the predictions and while there will be a bounce back it may take some time for confidence and stability to return from customers and suppliers.

Your employees

Managing a workforce of any size can have its challenges, let alone one that is recovering from a global crisis. Many businesses will have furloughed employees or made the difficult decision to make a number of their workforce redundant. For those businesses that haven’t, it’s highly likely they will still face having to make difficult choices, albeit further down the line.

The knock-on effects of the COVID-19 outbreak have changed the way employers engage with and effectively manage, their employees. The processes, policies and guidelines that worked previously may no longer be fit for purpose for your business, or for your workforce, in the new working landscape. With the rollout of the COVID vaccine facilitating the gradual return of employees back into the physical workplace, this in itself will bring a host of new opportunities and challenges.

Buildings, workspaces and leases

As the world and economy move forward out of lockdown, owners and investors of real estate as well as occupying tenants will have to consider the adjustments they now need to make whilst the restrictions around social distancing continue.
They will need to find new ways of working and inevitably different ways to use their space over the coming months and, at the same time, consider how to manage the cost of premises in these changed circumstances.

Suppliers and supply chain

Many businesses have struggled to comply with their contractual obligations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and may have been forced to rethink their supply chains. A focus in recent years on minimising costs, reducing inventories and maximising asset utilisation has often resulted in a reduced ability to cope with disruption. Whilst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern times, disruption to the global economy is an increasing risk, whether due to political events such as Brexit, US-China trade tensions, or climate change.

Private wealth, family businesses and family

The effects of COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a huge impact on our economy for years to come, with many businesses collapsing under the strain and the level of unemployment set to rise significantly. However, what is less widely reported on is the effect it is having and will continue to have, on families and personal wealth. We’ve already seen that the pandemic has led to an increase in people looking at how they may pass on their wealth to the next generation –and even more so for those that own family businesses.

Compliance – Health and safety

Employers have clear duties under existing health and safety legislation. Obligations to comply with health and safety at work, and to manage and control workplace risks, includes protecting workers and others from the risk of COVID-19 infection in the workplace. That duty is to do everything “reasonably practicable” to manage these risks. The onus of demonstrating that everything reasonably practicable has been done falls to the employer. The best way to demonstrate compliance with the law is usually to follow government and industry-led guidance wherever possible.

Leadership

Strong leadership is a cocktail of authenticity, collaboration, passion, compassion, and a great deal of bravery. We all know the best results occur when we are pushed out of our comfort zones and the ingredients are shaken up, and COVID-19 has done exactly that. With government guidance signalling the UK’s route out of current national restrictions, the time for positive leadership is now. It’s time to take control of what we can and create an environment with enough certainty where people can feel safe enough to flourish centre stage.

We are here to help

The team here at Shakespeare Martineau remain committed to supporting our clients and our communities throughout these challenging times, with

the depth of experience, collaborative ethos and the creative know-how to lead positively to the future.  We are able to offer advice and solutions on a range of subjects for life and business - from employment and general business matters, through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes to issues affecting family businesses, personal wealth planning and family law. Do contact us on 03300 240 333

 

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Reminder - EU Settlement Scheme closes on 30 June 2021

EU nationals have until 30 June 2021 to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme – with this date now only 30 days away (as of today - 1 June), time is of the essence for businesses to act.

All EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, who haven’t already applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, should do so now.  Consequently, this will allow them to continue to work, study, and access free healthcare and benefits in the UK after 30 June 2021.

Apply for EU Settlement Scheme

Applications can be made within the UK or abroad. If a biometric passport or national identity card is held then the simplest way to apply is online using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app – in most cases by scanning the applicant’s passport chip.

Full details on how to apply can be found at the government website.

Which status will be granted?

Those applying will not be asked to choose which status they’re applying for – instead, the status they’ll receive will depend on how long they’ve been living in the UK when they applied.

 

  • Pre-settled status - those who have resided in the UK for less than five years will be entitled to pre-settled status (up to five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK). To remain beyond that, they must apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires. Pre-settled status can be lost if more than two years is spent outside the UK.
  • Settled status -  those who have resided in the UK for a continuous period of five years, with at least six months of each year spent in the UK, will be entitled to settled status (a right to remain in the UK indefinitely). This will be retained provided they do not remain outside the UK for more than five years at a time.

The key for applicants to get status is to prove how long they have lived in the UK when they apply. This is mostly done through an automated check on a national insurance number, with the government using HMRC and DWP records to establish residence in the UK.

What should employers do to prepare?

Employers are not legally obliged to encourage EU employees to make an application for the EU Settlement Scheme, however, it is wise to keep staff informed about the upcoming deadline and the implications of failing to apply.

Employers do not need to carry out retrospective right to work checks on existing EU employees after the 30 June 2021 deadline. Although the government doesn’t require it, good practice is to ensure all EU staff employed between 1 January and 30 June have permission to work to minimise the risk of employing someone who has not regularised their stay under UK law by 1 July.

Sign up for our free webinar on 17 June to find out more about right to work checks and the key changes employers need to be aware of since Brexit.

What happens if EU nationals do not apply by 30 June?

Those who fail to apply on time will no longer be able to evidence they are lawfully resident in the UK. While late applications can be accepted at the Home Office’s discretion, there is no guarantee such discretion will be exercised. Furthermore, there is no clear guidance on what would be accepted as “reasonable grounds” for missing the deadline. As a result, those who make unsuccessful applications will most likely need to apply under the Immigration Rules.

In conclusion, from 1 July, recruitment of all EU, EEA and Swiss employees will require staff to demonstrate their right to work in the UK - either with the pre-settled or settled status, or with another immigration route, including a visa under the points-based immigration system.

We’re here if you have any queries

If you require any assistance regarding the EU Settlement Scheme then speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

Our immigration team is ranked as a Leading Firm in the Legal 500 2021 edition. 

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

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June 2021 - key dates for businesses and individuals

1 June marks the start of a number of major changes coming up in the real estate and employment landscapes that businesses and individuals need to be aware of.

Changes to possession proceedings – 1 June
An end to the eviction ban

As of today (1 June), landlords can once again apply to evict tenants. The eviction ban was introduced by the government at the start of the pandemic to protect people from losing their homes in such a turbulent period. However, for landlords this ban has meant a strain on cash flow, putting some into difficult financial circumstances, especially for those owed large amounts of unpaid rent.

Although evictions are now able to take place once more, landlords must give 14 days’ notice and, due to COVID-19 safety concerns, bailiffs are being asked not to carry out evictions if anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

Reduced notice periods

The government has also set out to shorten notice periods for landlords seeking possessions. Also form today (1 June), the current six-month notice period will be shortened to just four months. Although the current exceptions will still be applicable, there are a number of key changes for grounds of possession and their notices, including:

  • Anti-social behaviour (immediate to four weeks’ notice)
  • Domestic abuse in the social sector (two to four weeks’ notice)
  • False statement (two to four weeks’ notice)
  • Four months’ or more accumulated rent arrears (four weeks’ notice)
  • Breach of immigration rules ‘Right to Rent’ (two weeks’ notice)
  • Death of a tenant (two months’ notice)

Read more about the changes in our blog on key changes for possessions proceedings. If you’re a landlord and need advice then contact Habib Khan in our housing management team who can guide, you through any housing management and litigation issues you may face.

Concessions on ‘right to work’ checks will come to a close – 20 June

Businesses that intend to hire an international workforce in the UK should know that the government guidelines on 'right to work’ checks will be updated on 20 June. The new guidelines are being reintroduced as the world of work returns to normal after the pandemic and will require businesses to receive physical proof of a person’s right to work, such as a visa, not just a scanned or digital version of the documents.

Businesses should take this change in legislation as an opportunity to review their employment processes to ensure they are compliant with the new rules.

Register for our free webinar on right to work checks in 2021 and beyond, taking place on 17 June.

If you’re are unsure of what the changes mean for you, or you require assistance with the right to work checks and general compliance, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

Ban on evicting commercial tenants likely to end – 30 June

As it currently stands, the evictions ban on commercial tenants for non-payment of rent will come to an end on 30 June 2021.

When the extension of the ban was announced on 10 March, it provided a much-needed lifeline for businesses who are still struggling with the impact of COVID-19.

However, if the ban on eviction is not extended once again, landlords will have the right to forfeiture from 1 July.

If you’re a landlord and struggling to resolve matters with your tenants then our commercial property disputes team can help you through these difficult situations - contact James FownesMartin EdwardsJustine Ball or another member of the property disputes team for advice and support.

The wind down of the stamp duty holiday – 30 June

Homeowners should be aware that the stamp duty holiday comes to an end on 30 June, with a staggered return to previous rates over the coming months.

First introduced in July 2020 and then extended in March 2021, the stamp duty holiday was designed to boost the property sector, which had come to a halt at the start of the pandemic. This meant that property purchases up to £500,000 were exempt from stamp duty land tax, saving people up to £15,000.

From 30 June 2021, the threshold will decrease from £500,000 to £250,000, considerably reducing the number of eligible properties. By 1 October, the thresholds are planned to return to their pre-pandemic levels.

This holiday has helped many people purchase properties without worrying about additional tax bills, which has lowered costs overall.

Homeowners looking to benefit from the tax exemption should expedite their completion dates, if possible.

If you’re looking to sell or buy your own home then our dedicated residential conveyancing team is here to help and make the journey as straightforward as possible. For guidance and support contact Tom Ansell or complete our 'contact us' form and a member of our team will call you back to discuss your enquiry.

We’re here to help

Being aware of these key events can help you and your business better prepare, seeking expert guidance to assist with navigating this constantly changing landscape.

Our updated guide to recovery and resilience covers everything you need to navigate your way out of lockdown, unlock your potential and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.  

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

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Deal

Shakespeare Martineau helps cyber security start-up secure investment

We supported fcase with securing investment from start-up and scale-up funders Wayre UK, part of Telefonica’s innovation hub.

fcase, which specialises in fraud detection and prevention orchestration technology, will use the investment to further develop its sophisticated and extremely flexible technology, which centralises and automates the end-to-end framework for fraud operation centres.

Our team, comprising Catherine Moss, Georgia Keogh, Oliver Gutman and Tijen Ahmet, advised on the corporate and tax issues relating to the investment, having previously worked with fcase advising on business immigration.

Catherine Moss, partner and corporate finance expert said: “Cybersecurity, tech and digital are all proving sound investment areas for many funds. With fraud increasing as more people started working from home, it’s innovative technologies like those created by fcase which will make a difference to the safety and security of people and businesses by creating accessible, easy to use digital solutions supporting consumer financial services products. We look forward to continuing with fcase as they grow.”

Emre Sayin, CEO of fcase said: “We found that too often, banks, financial services, and insurance companies face the challenge of siloed anti-fraud systems and operations with little-to-no cross-functional or departmental communication, delivering significant inefficiencies and gaps that fraudsters exploit. For fraud prevention and operations to be effective, the enterprise must be connected and working in harmony via one final fraud orchestration layer connecting and managing point systems, such as anti-fraud.

“With our unified system, enterprises have a full picture of their fraud operations, diminished operational challenges, and a superior customer experience. Not only does fcase set a new standard for fraud operations management, but we also guarantee effective customer support through our 24/7 on-call system.

“This is a really exciting step in our growth journey and the team at Shakespeare Martineau have played a crucial part in getting our business investment-ready.”

Contact us

For any further information, or to see how we can support your business plans, contact Catherine Moss or another member of our corporate team.

Our corporate team is ranked as a Leading Firm in the Legal 500 2021 edition.

Our updated guide to recovery and resilience covers everything you need to navigate your business out of lockdown, unlock your potential and make way for a brighter future. Further advice in relation to COVID-19 can be found on our dedicated coronavirus resource hub.  

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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How do the current travel restrictions impact businesses? | COVID-19

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect us all, the UK government’s continued restrictions on travel means further challenges for UK business.

Self-isolation rules will inevitably cause delays to vital projects and businesses will now also need to consider additional costs linked to travelling to the UK. There is no doubt travel should be delayed or minimised if not necessary but, where new hires from overseas are critical to the operation of the business, this is not always possible.

Here we explore what employers need to know about the current travel restrictions and how this may impact their business.

Employees travelling to the UK

The UK borders remain open, but if travelling from a red list country, your employees must quarantine upon arrival in a hotel and have residence rights to enter the UK - be British, Irish or have a valid UK visa. EU citizens can have status under the EU Settlement Scheme. This means short-term business visits are banned if travelling from a ‘red list country’.

If entering England from a country not on the red list, self-isolation is required for ten days, or the use of the Test to Release scheme to reduce the self-isolation period to five days, with some limited exceptions in ‘very essential’ jobs.

The rules for Scotland are even more stringent, requiring all international arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area entering Scotland to self-isolate in managed quarantine hotels.

Mandatory testing

The UK government imposed mandatory testing on anyone intending to travel to the UK that must be taken within three days of their departure to the UK and produce a negative result before travel.

What do businesses need to consider?

The main considerations for business is to ascertain the level or type of restrictions that will apply to your employees that will predominantly be determined by the answers to three key questions:-

 

  1. Where are your employees travelling from?
  2. What is their immigration status?
  3. What is the reason for their travel?

 

In addition, businesses should factor in mandatory isolation periods, availability of flights and costs for hotels before giving employees the green light to travel.

While Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap to freedom’ was announced this week (Monday 22 February), with the prospect of restrictions being fully eased by 21 June (if all goes to plan), the future for travel is still yet to be seen, with the PM indicating a vaccine passport for international travel being introduced.

For now, what was a simple business decision to permit travel to the UK is no longer the case.

We’re here if you have any queries

For further guidance and support, particular around queries or concerns on the immigration status of your employees, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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Guides & Advice

Our most popular blogs from 2020

2020 was a year full of newsworthy moments, with each twist and turn impacting businesses and individuals in different and challenging ways.

Throughout this unusual time, we’ve been here to break down the news and offer guidance, via both our services and our expert blogs and insights.

During such an unstable period, where the situation changed from one day to the next, we created a useful bank of information to help answer your questions and concerns.

Expert insights

We kept on top of the news agenda, providing you with blogs that unravelled the latest government guidance and gave insight from our teams on the most talked about issues at the time.

Here are the blogs that you found most helpful in 2020:

UKVI launches new IDV app

At the end of March 2020, the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) suspended all services to protect their staff and applicants. However, this led to a backlog of visa applications at UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

As the UK immigration system gradually reopened, the UKVCAS and UKVI worked together to develop the Identity Verification (IDV) app, which is still in use today.

The app is free to use for those who are eligible and requires applicants to submit their information to the UKVI by taking a photograph of themselves and their travel documents and uploading them via their smartphone.

For employers, this means they won’t be left in limbo about the immigration status of their employees during the pandemic.

Watch our 20 minute webinar on the practical implications of the UK’s new immigration system when recruiting overseas workers

Get in touch with our business immigration team for more information.

The Job Retention Scheme

Throughout the pandemic, the Job Retention Scheme has been a vital lifeline for businesses in the UK. Furlough leave has allowed companies to save both money and their staff, with the Government paying up to 80 percent (capped at £2,500) of wage costs. Without it, many more businesses would have been forced to make redundancies or even close for good.

A number of changes have happened to the furlough scheme over the past year, and our employment team’s comprehensive Job Retention Scheme blog has been continually updated, covering everything you need to know.

Child arrangements during COVID-19

Relationship breakdowns are already complicated enough without the extra stress that a pandemic adds, especially when children are involved. Many parents were left concerned about the status of recently obtained child arrangement orders and whether they will be able to see their children with social distancing and self-isolation guidance in place.

Our child arrangements blog answers the most common questions that our family team have been asked throughout 2020, offering reassurance to parents in this difficult position.

Making a will during lockdown

In October 2020, it was announced that there had been a 550 percent increase in people writing wills in the six months prior. Clearly, people were – and still are – worried about the risks of COVID-19, with many wanting to ensure their affairs are in order should the worst happen.

Making a will is always important, and thankfully being in lockdown doesn’t mean that you have to wait until things return to normal. Initial meetings can take place over video conference and further communication is able to happen via email or telephone. Wills can also be witnessed via video conference until 31 January 2022. Learn more about this new process from our private client team.

Pronouns in email signatures

Moving away from the topic of the pandemic, another of our most popular blogs looks at whether businesses can force their employees to include pronouns in email signatures. There is no legal requirement for employees to publicly state their preferred pronouns, although people can do so if they wish.

Requests from employers to do this may be done in the name of inclusivity, but it’s a tricky tightrope to cross, as this information could impact the way that employees are treated, in turn leaving employers open to discrimination claims. Our employment team can offer further guidance should you be unsure of what information is acceptable to request from your staff.

Firm news

There has also been light amongst the darkness, so here are our most-read positive news stories:

C-19 Business Pledge

 

At the start of the pandemic, we signed up to the C-19 Business Pledge, a global initiative which encouraged businesses and universities to join the international coronavirus effort to help the most vulnerable.

Through our dedicated coronavirus resource hub and free helpline, we’ve supported both our clients and local businesses, and we will continue to do so.

Our new structure

 

On 1 May 2020, we implemented a major restructure of our senior leadership team. These changes were made to support our ambitious plans for growth, as well as increase collaboration across the business, in turn creating a more agile operational model.

Read more about our ‘House of Brands’ strategy.

Celebrating our people

 

In the second half of 2020, we made a number of promotions and appointments within our membership. This included a host of new ordinary and preferred members, as well as four new partners.

Contact us

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Guides & Advice

Brexit and the end of free movement

Although the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, the 12 month transition period meant that free movement did not effectively end until 31 December 2020.

Now that the transition period is over, it is vital that employers are aware of their new obligations and responsibilities regarding recruiting from abroad, as well as ensuring their staff maintain the right to work in the UK.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The UK government’s EU Settlement Scheme offers EU, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and Swiss nationals the opportunity to protect their residence in the UK now that the transition period has ended, provided they were in the UK before 31 December 2020.

For the purposes of the Settlement Scheme, citizens of countries in the European Economic Area (Norway, Lichtenstein, and Iceland) have the same eligibility as full EU citizens.

What is the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme?

The government has allowed a grace period up to 30 June 2021, whereby eligible EU nationals living in the UK who have not yet applied for settled or pre-settled status can still do so.  It is important to note that this only applies to EU nationals who moved to the UK before 31 December 2020, meaning the grace period will not allow any further EU citizens to move to the UK for work without going through the UK’s points based system, which has previously applied to citizens of non-EU countries.

EU nationals who moved to the UK, but have yet to apply for settled or pre-settled status, may be at risk of losing their right to live and work in the UK if they miss out on this scheme. Employers may wish to encourage staff to check their eligibility and, if necessary, make an application for settled or pre-settled status before the deadline. Failure to take advantage of the grace period could result in employers having to dismiss employees who have lost their right to work.

While there is no requirement for employers to carry out retrospective right to work checks for existing employees, for new hires from 1 January 2021 the risk of potentially losing business critical staff at short notice should be taken seriously by any business. Ignorance of the need to apply to these schemes will not be a valid excuse.

Applying for a sponsor licence

Any company looking to recruit foreign nationals in 2021 will require a sponsor licence from the Home Office. Previously, many UK businesses were able to recruit EU nationals without the need for a licence, as EU citizens merely needed to present proof of citizenship of an EU state before being hired.

With many UK businesses taking the steps to apply for a sponsor licence in 2021, the Home Office are understandably busy. Therefore it is advisable to make an application well in advance of the need to sponsor visas to prevent any delays, particularly businesses that foresee the need to recruit from abroad in the near future.

Businesses will need to factor in time for the preparation and processing of visa applications in their recruitment timelines going forward. They may also want to review the quota allocated to them through their sponsor certificate, and whether an application for an increased quota is appropriate. Differing rules will apply for intra-company transfers.

Our specialist business immigration team can assist and advise with applying for a sponsor licence.

EU nationals and non-EU nationals are now treated the same

As the government has been promising for many years, the UK has now expanded its points-based immigration system to apply to all foreign nationals equally. EU nationals must now follow the same system that non-EU immigrants have been subject to.

Additional options will still be available for non-UK nationals to come to the UK using a variety of visa options. These include, but aren’t limited to, Global Talent and Graduate visa options, as well as health and care worker, or creative and sporting visas. Each will have their own specific requirements.

Watch our short to our webinar on understanding the UK’s new immigration system

What does the future hold?

It is notable that with the new immigration rules, the UK has abolished its annual cap on migration to the UK, applied to immigrants from outside the EU under the old regime. Whether this will lead to an overall increase or decrease in net migration remains to be seen.

It is notable that the government’s net migration figures often include students coming to the UK to study at universities. It is likely that there will be a fall in students coming to the UK from EU countries in 2021 and beyond, as they will now have to pay standard international fees, which often far exceed the previous regime for EU students. Read more about the new student immigration routes.

It is no secret that the UK’s new immigration policy is encouraging skilled workers to come to the UK, with no preference from their country of origin. The new regime will offer no routes for ‘low skilled’ workers to come to the UK for work purposes, meaning the UK’s pool of employable low skilled workers will shrink from across the EU, to being drawn from the existing UK workforce only.

For employers, the UK’s new immigration policy may encourage businesses to up-skill their existing workforce, particularly for those high skilled jobs where specialist vacancies might have previously been filled by lateral hires from elsewhere in the EU.

For those jobs that cannot be filled from upskilling an existing workforce, the countries from which incoming hires may come is likely to change, with there no longer being an advantage in speed or ease in the hiring of an EU citizen over someone from, say, India or the USA.

We can help keep your global workforce moving

For further guidance and support speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

SHMA® ON DEMAND

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Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: a new post-Brexit immigration system

The long-awaited Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration rules was laid before Parliament on 22 October to take effect from 1 December 2020. It provides us with a more definitive guide to the future points-based system in the UK, from 1 January 2021, when freedom of movement between the EU and the UK comes to an end.

Watch our webinar on the practical implications of the UK’s new immigration system when recruiting overseas workers.

The Statement of Changes outlines a number of new changes to the visa system; these highlight new rules for students, graduates and those working in the UK as ‘Skilled Workers’. These new rules are imperative to business as they will affect the way in which employers recruit from the EU from next year.

Here we outline the changes to the immigration requirements.

Visa requirements for Skilled Workers

This category will replace the Tier 2 General and is for individuals coming to the UK to work in a skilled job with a licenced employer known as a sponsor.

  • The same system will apply to both EU and non-EU citizens;
  • The minimum skill threshold is reduced from RQF level 6 (degree) to level 3 (A-Level or equivalent), effectively unlocking this route for a greater number of individuals;
  • The cap on restricted Certificates of Sponsorship is to be suspended;
  • The Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) advertisement process will be abolished, the requirement for general vacancies shall continue;
  • The cooling off period will be abolished; there is no longer a requirement for a Tier 2 migrant to wait 12 months after their visa has expired or they have left the UK, before applying for a new visa;
  • Reduction of the minimum salary threshold from £30,000 to £25,600 a year;
  • Applicants must score 70 points in total, 50 of which are mandatory as follows;
    • Employer’s sponsorship (20 points);
    • A job at an appropriate skill level (20 points);
    • A knowledge of English equivalent to level B1 or above of the Council of Europe’s common European framework (10 points);
  • To score the remaining 20 points, applicants must receive an annual salary of £25,600 or above.

Where they will be paid less than £25,600, they can achieve the remaining 20 points in one or a combination of the following ways;

  • Salary of £23,040 - £25,599 (10 points)
  • PhD in a subject relevant to the job (10 points)
  • PhD in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics subject relevant to the job (20 points)
  • Job in a shortage occupation (20 points)
Intra-Company Transfer visa

The Tier 2 Intra-Company transfer visa will be re-branded to ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ (ICT).

  • The minimum skill level will remain at RQF level 6 (degree level);
  • There will be no English Language requirement;
  • Applicant must be employed by overseas branch for a minimum period prior to the transfer (12 months in the case of Intra-company transfer or three months in the case of ICT trainees);
  • The ‘high earner salary threshold’ will be reduced from the current level of £120,000 per annum to £73,000 per annum;
  • The 12-month cooling off period will be amended and will allow ICT visas for up to =five years in any six years rolling period. Also, nine years in any 10 year period for high earners;
  • It has now become possible to switch from the ICT route to the Skilled Worker route from within the UK if applicants meet the qualifying requirements.
What is the English language requirement for a visa?
  • Applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office on one occasion rather than for each application they make;
  • Applicants who have gained GCSE/A Level or Scottish Higher in English while at school in the UK can rely on this as a proof of their English language ability;
  • Malta is included in the majority English-speaking country list.
What are the new visa rules for students?
  • Maintenance levels are being amended in line with the current home student maintenance loans;
  • The restrictions of working as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training are being removed. Students and their dependents who are permitted to work under their visa permission will now be allowed to work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training, to enable them to work in the NHS;
  • Foreign students wishing to study in the UK for six months or less can now do so on a visit visa;
  • Students wishing to study an English Language course can now do so at an accredited institution in the UK for between six and 11 months;
Changes to the Global Talent route
  • Changes have been made to the criteria for senior appointments to cater for emerging leaders as well as those at a more advanced stage of their career;
  • The definition of the types of academic and research roles that qualify for the route will be expanded;
  • There is a two stage process to include endorsement from an approved body and an application for entry clearance;
EU Settlement Scheme

EEA nationals residing in the UK by 31 December 2020 qualify under the EU settlement Scheme. If however, they relocate next year, an entry clearance application will be required under the new system, being accepted from 1 January 2021.

Keeping your global workforce moving

Tier 2 General and Intra Company Transfer will be closed to new applicants from 1 December 2020. This means existing migrant workers currently in the UK under these routes will need to apply for their extension and meet eligibility requirement rules under the new rules.

It is vital for UK businesses to take measures today to assess and identify their EU workforce as well as plan and implement in preparation for the UK’s new immigration system.

For assistance and advice with securing the status of your EU workers, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

Our Brexit & Beyond hub contains the latest news, articles, briefings, commentary and webinars concerning the legal implications of Brexit, ensuring that you have all the information to drive your strategic thinking now and in the future

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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Brexit: the final countdown to secure your workforce

In just 11 weeks, the UK is set to leave the EU, meaning now is the time for businesses to make any final preparations.

On 31 December 2020, free movement will come to an end: a cause for concern for sectors such as construction, hospitality and leisure that rely on EU migrant labour.

Once, EU citizens are treated equally to non-EU citizen under the new immigration system, those businesses whose workforces are made up of a number of lower skilled migrant workers will be faced with challenges, with many ‘low skilled’ job roles simply not meeting the skills level for sponsorship.

Hospitality and leisure will be particularly vulnerable to these Brexit-related difficulties, after having already been hit hard by the impacts of COVID-19.

However, it is possible, and vital, to prepare for these changes, including:

  • Ensuring the business has for a skilled worker sponsor licence to hire skilled workers from outside the UK
  • Supporting to regulate the status of the business’ current EU workforce under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Bringing forward recruitment plans to hire Europeans, where possible, before the transition period ends

Read the guidance for employers recruiting from outside the UK from 2021

Throughout the Brexit process, the government has not been entirely consistent with its messaging. However, in February, a policy statement on the new immigration system was announced, with a ‘Further Details’ statement then published in July 2020, which mapped out more clearly what the post-Brexit system would look like and how it would function. Now the Home Office has launched a nationwide marketing campaign to reach businesses to ensure they are ready for the introduction of the UK’s new immigration system.

Nevertheless, businesses seeking to apply for a sponsor licence may face considerable delays, with the Home Office overrun with applications and working through a significant backlog. Therefore, it is best to start this process as soon as possible.

Tijen Ahmet, our head of business immigration, said: “It’s getting close to the line now and the reality is that any business that employs Europeans from next year will find themselves in a tough position if they haven’t got the necessary sponsor licence and compliance processes in place by now.

“Smaller companies may still be able to secure their workforce ahead of the Brexit date, however larger corporates whose workforces are made up of a high percentage of migrant workers have a tough task ahead of them. The government hasn’t helped this process and with it taking up to six months to obtain a sponsor licence in some cases, even those businesses, which have been proactive risk getting caught out.”

However, businesses should still do everything in their power to secure their European workforces today and before 30 June 2021 - the closure date for the EU Settlement Scheme.

“If businesses want to employ Europeans in future, getting the ball rolling now would be hugely advantageous. Whilst the current system is in place, EU citizens can enter the UK with their EU passport or ID card and begin to work. As of January, that simply won’t be possible.

“There are tough times ahead for us all, especially as the country grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic. The international talent pool is set to become much smaller, however there are steps which can be taken, even in the short term. The worst thing any business can do is bury its head in the sand and think that everything will continue as normal after 1 January 2021– any action is better than no action at all.”

From 1 January 2021 you will need to have a sponsor licence to hire skilled workers from outside the UK

If you think you’ll need a licence, and do not already have one, you need to apply for one now.

For assistance and advice with applying for a sponsor licence, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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New guidance for employers recruiting from outside the UK from 2021

On 24 September the Home Office published new guidance for employers recruiting people from outside the UK from 2021.

The guidance gives a brief overview of the key routes for entry to the UK post- Brexit, focused on sponsoring workers under the new immigration system that goes live next year.

You can read a full copy of the guidance on the gov.uk website.

What are the routes to entry?

Skilled workers

Skilled workers are required to;

  • have a job offer from a licenced sponsor at the skill level of RQF3 or above;
  • speak English at a required level; and
  • be paid at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for their job offer.

They can ‘trade points’, if they earn at least £20,480, on specific characteristics against their salary, such as if they have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.

There are different salary rules for workers at the start of their careers and in some health or education jobs.

Other routes

The Global Talent Route will open, designed to attract recognised global leaders and promising individuals in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology so top scientists and researchers can benefit from a quicker endorsement process as part of a fast track STEM scheme.

There are other work routes available such as the start-up and innovator visa, creative and sporting route, a health and care visa, the youth mobility scheme and pilot for seasonal workers.

Read more about the routes to entry and why it's welcome news for helping to enhance the UK’s reputation as a leader in science.

What does this mean for employers?

This guidance means a whole new immigration system that employers need to be mindful of. This will impact on future recruitment plans for business and there will be new budgetary considerations now that EU skilled workers will need to be sponsored and subject to the same government fees, such as the immigration skills charges, health surcharges and visa processing fees, as migrant workers.

There will be some industries such as retail and accommodation/food whose workers will not meet the minimum salary thresholds, so the focus on upskilling graduates and British workers will be key. Similarly, sectors that currently rely heavily on EU workers will need to prepare themselves for sponsoring under the new system or re-planning their recruitment from 2021 altogether.

Finally, employers that already have a sponsor licence will automatically be granted a new “Skilled Worker” licence, whether they recruit in the tier 2 general or intracompany transfer categories.

From 1 January 2021 you’ll need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK

Employers who do not have a licence, and think they will need one, need to apply for one now.

For assistance and advice with applying for a sponsor licence, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

Our upcoming webinar on 8 October on Recruiting post-Brexit: understanding the UK’s new immigration systems’ will provide an overview of how the new system will shape future recruitment practices and offer practical solutions on what employers can do to prepare today - Sign up free today.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

SIGN UP FOR FREE TO OUR NEXT IMMIGRATION WEBINAR:
Recruiting post brexit tile landscape

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New Student Immigration Rules & Routes

New student immigration rules with new routes for prospective students

On 1 July 2020, the Government announced new plans to attract, retain and develop top talent to enhance the UK’s reputation as a leader in science including the establishment of a new Office for Talent. They promised to make it easier for talented individuals such scientists, researchers and innovators to settle in the UK. This is welcome news for the education sector which has felt the strain of a student migration system that has been thwart with restrictions for several years.

With the launch of the new points-based immigration system that goes live from 1 January 2021, EU citizens will be treated equally to other migrants who wish to study or work in the UK. The new student immigration rules will cater for skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes.

In this post, we take a look at the various routes available and highlight the key impact of these changes on the education sector.

A points-based system

From 5 October 2020, we say farewell to Tier 4 and welcome the “Student route and Child Student route” under the new points-based system to attract the best and brightest international students from across the globe. There will be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK, to help to increase the total number of international students choosing to study in the UK higher education system each year to 600,000 by 2030, as set out in the government’s International Education Strategy.

As part of the point-based student immigration rules, students will be required to score points to be eligible for a UK visa. This includes having an offer from an approved educational institution, having an understanding of English and demonstrating they can financially support themselves during their studies. This route will treat all international students equally, including those from Europe coming to study after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

This means the UK’s world leading education sector can continue to welcome talented and high potential students to its globally renowned universities, further education English language colleges, and independent schools. The new student immigrations rules offer much more flexibility such as switching into the student route from within the UK; allow for application for entry to be filed six months in advance; waive meeting the English language and financial requirements with extension applications, and remove study time limits for postgraduate courses. Sponsors will, however, still need to maintain their sponsor compliance duties, and academic progression is still very much key to continued studies to pave the way for international graduates who desire a future career in the UK.

The new student immigration routes

Graduate Immigration route

Good news for international graduates! From summer 2021, a new Graduate Immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK.  This is a bold move to encourage the Government’s commitment to improving the UK’s position as a top destination for study. It is an unsponsored route and intends to enable graduates to work or look for work, at any skill level for up to two years, or three years for PhD graduates.

More significantly, graduates under this immigration route will be able to apply in-country to switch into other work routes if they meet the requirements. It permits employment and self-employment and facilitates the move into other work routes that potentially lead to a settlement. The return of this post-study route will replace the current Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), open to international students who have completed a PhD in the UK, with significant improvements.

Global Talent route

February 2020 saw the launch of the Global Talent visa providing fast-track entry visas to the UK for highly skilled top scientists, researchers and mathematicians with unlimited visa offers to the world’s brightest. In July 2020 further details were outlined in the UK’s new points-based system due to come into force in 2021 and open to EU citizens post-Brexit. The Global Talent route does not require a job offer and replaces the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent route.

For the first time, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will be able to endorse applicants from the scientific and research community.  To help facilitate this, the government announced that the Office for Talent will cut unnecessary red tape and make it easier for international scientists, researchers and innovators to come to the UK to live and work. This visa route offers much flexibility, with permission of up to five years for a single application and no confirmed job offer required. In addition, there is no English language or maintenance requirement, although an endorsement from a Home Office approved list of selected UK industry is required and immigration health surcharges apply.

Global Talent visa holders are permitted to work for an employer or be self-employed, change jobs without informing the Home Office, travel abroad and return to the UK for research purposes as well as to bring dependents with them. This is an attractive visa route for the sector and employers alike, with no sponsor licence required to employ holders of this visa.

Start-Up visa

A visa route that has faded into the background since its launch in March 2019, but which is an opportunity for innovative international UK graduates who demonstrate high entrepreneurial potential to establish their own new business in the UK, with over one hundred UK higher education institutions able to endorse applicants.

This visa route is ideal for graduates with an original, innovative business idea that has potential for growth. Furthermore, applicants can join or invest in a business that is already trading. The Start-Up route replaced the old Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and can be issued for up to two years and then extended into the Innovator visa route.

Skilled workers

Graduates or overseas recruits who have a job from an approved sponsor at a required skill and salary level can continue to be sponsored under the new route for ‘Skilled Workers’ that is currently identified as Tier 2. Introduced as part of the new student immigration rules, this route will also be applicable to EU citizens from January 2021 who currently benefit from free movement and do not require sponsorship today to work in the UK.

From 1 January 2021, any such job offer will need to be at a required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level rather than degree level), and there is a new lower general salary threshold of £25,600 as compared to £30,000. However, the main difference with the new system is that points can be traded if earning no less than £20,480 on specific characteristics against salary such as shortage occupation roles or having a PhD relevant to the job.

It is imperative for education providers that currently source some of their skilled staff from outside the UK, including the EU, to consider obtaining a Sponsor Licence if they do not already have one, to recruit from January 2021. Even if not currently in a position to sponsor migrants under the existing system, or if unsure of when sponsored migrants are required under the new system from January 2021, the UKVI are encouraging businesses and organisations to apply early, provided they meet all of the other requirements set out in the guidance.

Contact us

For further guidance and support, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333

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Spring 2022 Consumer Finance Update

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Identity Verification

UKVI launches new Identity Verification (IDV) app

To help protect the health and wellbeing of their staff and applicants during the global pandemic, the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS), led by Sopra Steria on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), suspended all services at the end of March.

This led to the backlog of visa applications at UKVI, with both employers and their employees left in limbo about their immigration status and work visas. Now that the UKVCAS has progressed to the next stage of the gradual reopening of the UK immigration system, and to deal with the backlog of visa applications, they have worked with UKVI to develop the new Identity Verification (IDV) app.

What is the Identity Verification (IDV) app?

In response to COVID-19, the UKVI announced a new biometric reuse policy, where eligible applicants that have previously submitted biometrics to UKVI will not have to repeat the whole identity verification process.

How Does Identity Verification Work?

The new IDV app, which was made available from 17 August, claims to be quick and easy to use and works on most Android and iPhone smartphones. The app is free to use for eligible applicants to submit their information to the UKVI by taking a photograph of themselves, and their travel document, and uploading the documents via their smartphone.

Once they are fully up to speed (expecting to reach this point at the beginning of September 2020), the UKVI aims to process up to 20,000 applications per week.

Can anyone use the Identity Verification app?

Only applicants that receive an email invitation can use the app, so those who have not previously submitted biometric information to UKVI will not be able to use it. They will need to book an appointment at a UKVCAS Service Point in the usual way.

It is likely applicants will be invited in chronological order, dealing with those who submitted applications for leave to remain before 31 July 2020 first.

What does the introduction of the Identity Verification app mean for employers?

If you’re an employer then you should be aware that the immigration status of your employees who are eligible for this process will remain unaffected whilst their application is in progress.

However, it is important to note, that this does still restrict your employees with travel until their applications are complete.

How can Shakespeare Martineau help?

If you need any advice or support with securing the immigration status of your employees then our team of business immigration specialists can help.

With the new points-based immigration system still set to come into force from January 2021, we can help you and your business to plan your recruitment processes and budgets today, in order to ensure business stability and continuity in the years ahead.

Contact Us

For further guidance and support, speak to Tijen Ahmet in our business immigration team.

From inspirational SHMA Talks to informative webinars, we also have lots of educational and entertaining content for life and business. Visit SHMA® ON DEMAND.

Our free legal helpline offers bespoke guidance on a range of subjects, from employment and general business matters through to director’s responsibilities, insolvency, restructuring, funding and disputes. We also have a team of experts on hand for any queries on family and private matters too. Available from 10am-12pm Monday to Friday, call 0800 689 4064.

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