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A third of overseas workers stay in the UK after their visas expire

Nick Harding - Harding Media

New figures show the most attractive visa routes for overseas workers and give recruiters and indication of the best visas to use to entice overseas talent.

Almost a third of people issued visas in 2016 remained in the UK five years later. They stayed either as settled citizens or were granted temporary leave to remain.

More than a quarter of the 131,000 people issued work visas in 2016 held valid leave or settlement at the end of 2021.

The figures issued by the Government show the most effective routes overseas workers can take to achieve permanent settlement. they also show recruiters the most attractive visas to promote when recruiting from overseas.

The figures relate to non-EU migrants and focus on the last five years for which data is available as this is the typical length of time after which those on work visas become eligible to apply for settlement status.

The figures show that 73% of those who were issued High value work visas in 2016 still held leave after five years while 34% of those issued Skilled Worker visas in 2016 remained in the UK. 11% of those issued Temporary visas also stayed after five years, although 99% of this cohort had switched to a different visa.

Experts say that these figures give some indication of how many of the record number of migrants who have come to work in the UK since the new points-based immigration system was established might be expected to settle and gain citizenship in the coming years. They also provide a guide for firms struggling to fill vacancies as to the most attractive routes into the UK.

Immigration lawyer, Yash Dubal, Director of A Y & J Solicitors explained: “These figures show that businesses with roles to fill that will qualify for high value visas will have the best chance of retaining workers long term. Skilled worker visas will also be highly attractive for overseas workers as over a third of skilled worker visa holders go on to settle in the UK.

“The figures also give some indication of how many overseas workers apply for settled status or leave to remain after five years. Settlement remains one of the prime considerations and motivations for workers who come to the UK, particularly those from countries such as India and Nigeria, where there are lifestyle benefits to moving to the UK with their families.”

In the year ending March 2022, 182,152 Skilled Worker visas were issued, an increase of 66% compared with the year ending March 2020. If the same percentage of these people applied for settlement as did those from the 2016 to 2021 cohort it would mean around 62,000 migrant workers settling in the UK in five years’ time.

Family visas were also shown to be a popular route to settlement. Of the 33,000 people granted a Family visa in 2016, 83% still held valid leave or had been granted settlement at the end of 2021. If these figures are applied to the data for the year ending March 2022, when 248,030 family visas were issued, in five years’ time around 206,000 of these will also have settled.

Mr Dubal said: “The figures show that a large number of overseas workers and family members who come to the UK do so to start a new life here, rather than to earn money and then leave.”

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