Jane Biddlecombe | 4th March 2021

Immigration system : New reforms announced in 2021 Budget

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Jane Biddlecombe | 4th March 2021

Immigration system : New reforms announced in 2021 Budget


The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today announced new reforms to the immigration system to “help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent”. The reforms aim to attract and retain the most highly skilled globally mobile talent from around the world, particularly in academia, science, research and technology. This is intended to drive innovation and economic growth post-COVID and post-Brexit in order to boost the UK’s international competitiveness.

Proposed changes to Immigration System

The proposed changes to the immigration system include:

  • A new “elite” points based visa to be introduced by March 2022. Within this visa there will be a “scaleup” stream to help start-ups and fast growing companies like those in the FinTech sector (which currently contributes around £11 billion a year to the British economy) recruit talent in order to innovate and grow. This will enable those with a job offer from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast track visa. Highly skilled migrants would need a job offer from a high growth firm but crucially they would qualify for a visa without the need for sponsorship.
  • Reform of the Global Talent route, including to allow holders of international prizes and winners of scholarships and programmes for early promise to automatically qualify for a visa.
  • Review of the Innovator visa route with a view to making it easier for entrepreneurs wishing to set up an innovative business in the UK to obtain a visa.
  • Launch of a new Global Business Mobility visa by spring 2022 for overseas businesses to establish a presence or transfer staff to the UK.
  • Modernising the sponsorship system in order to make it easier to use. This will include providing practical support to small companies that are using the visa system for the first time. The Government will publish further details on this in the summer.
  • Establishing a global outreach strategy by expanding the Global Entrepreneur Programme, marketing the UK’s visa offering and exploring building an overseas talent network.

The new unsponsored elite route will help UK companies attract highly skilled migrants without the need for a sponsor licence. The Innovator route has so far been a disaster in terms of its complexity and the need for overseas entrepreneurs to be endorsed so any reform of this route to make it easier for entrepreneurs to set up a business in the UK is a step in the right direction. The modernisation of the sponsorship system to make it easier to use will hopefully reduce the burden on businesses trying to recruit talent from overseas.

So, overall, these changes are to be welcomed and we look forward to the Government releasing further details in due course.

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