What does the UK’s post-Brexit immigration landscape look like? Certainly for European nationals the era of free-movement is over, however despite the long arguments about immigration control during these last few years, the immigration picture does look favourable for some.
Sponsorship Licence and Skilled Work
According to the released Home Office “Sponsorship Transparency Data” there has been a 3-fold increase in the number companies applying for a Sponsorship Licence to hire foreign workers, from approximately 2,000 per quarter before the Brexit-transition date, to 6,000 per quarter after the Brexit-transition date.
These figures clearly show that UK companies continue to need foreign workers to plug labour-shortage gaps, and with the ending of European free-movement these gaps are being plugged through the Sponsorship Licence scheme. Any UK employer looking to hire non-UK national staff needs to obtain a Home Office Sponsorship Licence. The main criteria for that application include proving to the Home Office that your business is a viable concern (in other words that you have the revenue and profit margins to take on the commitment of new hires), and that you will follow all the Home Office rules and regulations in relation to the licence, including Human Resources (HR) standards.
An application needs to supply certain key documents proving the financial health of the business, such as the latest accounts and Corporation Tax returns and bank statements. The rules a business needs to comply with are detailed, but broadly speaking they involve the company immediately reporting to the Home Office any issue with the foreign worker, or indeed reporting any problem with the compliance of the licence and the HR standards.
The most common form of Sponsorship Licence is what is known as the “Skilled Worker” licence. This is an important factor for businesses – this scheme is designed for the employment of highly skilled migrant workers, and not low-skilled workers. The Home Office publish a list of what constitutes highly skilled work, and there are roughly 65 different job titles ranging from; various management titles in the retail/hospitality and the corporate sectors, IT and digital services specialists, specific engineering or scientific positions, specific positions in healthcare, and many others. We are happy to have discussions with you about whether your intended hires can fall under one of these categories.
The Start-up and Innovator Visas
Another post-Brexit reform has been the introduction of the Start-up and Innovator visas. They are two different applications, though there is a great deal of similarity between them. The Start-up visa is aimed more towards young people who have no prior business experience such as University graduates. The applicant needs to put together a business plan that shows that their business idea is; a new idea, innovative, and commercially viable. This business plan needs to be endorsed by a reputable institution, and the most common endorsing body for the Start-up visa is the applicant’s former University. Indeed many UK Universities now have specialised teams to help guide their current and former students through the endorsing process, and the Universities have set this system up in partnership with the Home Office. There is no set investment amount required for the Start-up visa, which is one key factor different from the Innovator visa.
For the innovator visa an applicant needs a minimum of £50,000 to invest in their business idea, and this application is tailored more for experienced entrepreneurs. As such, the requirements for the business plan in this route are a little more stringent and obtaining the approval of an endorsing body can be a little more challenging. The most common endorsing body include the various start-up incubators or seed-capital investment funds around the UK, and each of these institutions has its own requirements for admission on to their programmes and have different processes for endorsing a business plan. However, one key element to the Innovator visa is that the business plan must be innovative – in other words your business idea must use a new technology, or comprise of a new product or be a business venture that is truly new to the UK market. The Brooke Consultancy can assist you in the process of putting your business plan together and liaising with endorsing bodies.
The immigration picture remains favourable for businesses who need to hire skilled foreign workers and for migrants with specialist knowledge and entrepreneurs with new ideas. At the Brooke Consultancy we would be happy to hear from you if you found this article interesting to solve your immigration needs.
– Bruno Rodrigues, The Brooke Consultancy