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Employer immigration trends for 2022

Yash Dubal - A Y & J Solicitors

Easier sponsorship protocols
Between 2022 and 2024 there are further plans to streamline the sponsorship journey including faster end-to-end processing for employers and migrants and better use of systems and data. Some new visa routes will also make hiring skilled workers easier. For example, the Scale-up visa comes into effect in spring 2022. It will allow qualifying, fast-growing businesses to hire high-skilled overseas workers through a fast-track verification process.

Revamped route for businesses wishing to set up in the UK
In Spring 2022 the Home Office will launch a new Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses wishing to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK. It is aimed at simplifying several business visa routes including Intra Company Transfer and Sole Representative visas. It will allow overseas businesses to temporarily send an employee to the UK for a specific purpose, or to send a senior or specialist worker to facilitate an expansion of their business to the UK. It is expected to apply to specific eligible applicants including senior or specialist workers, graduate trainees, secondment workers and service suppliers.

Shortage occupation list review
The end of free movement, Covid and a new immigration system that focusses on skilled workers have combined to create acute labour shortages in many sectors, forcing the Home Office to issue ad hoc, temporary visas for a range of professions. Expect the pattern to continue as many business sectors such as care homes continue struggling to fill roles.

High Potential Individual visa category
As part of the UK Innovation Strategy, the government plans to introduce the High Potential Individual visa for graduates from top global universities wishing to come to the UK to work. Die for applications as early as Spring 2022 the route is like the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, and the Tier 1 (General) route.

Cherry-picking talented individuals
In 2021 the UK Government pledged £1.4 billion to help boost investment in innovative sectors. As part of this policy it announced the Global Talent Network which will work with UK businesses and research institutions to identify skills gaps before sourcing science and tech talent from universities, innovation hubs and research institutions overseas. Eligible individuals will be identified and invited to relocate to the UK. They will receive support and advice and be introduced to UK-based opportunities. The network is scheduled to launch in 2022 in the Bay Area in San Francisco, in Boston in Bengaluru in India. It will expand to six countries worldwide by 2023.

Increase in the number of removals of illegal immigrants
Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill was added in November and exempts the government from giving notice of a decision to deprive a person of citizenship if it is not “reasonably practicable” to do so, or in the interests of national security, diplomatic relations or “in the public interest”. The bill will be debated by the House of Lords, on January 5, and aims to tackle illegal immigration and inadmissible asylum claims made by undocumented people.  The bill has 3 key objectives: to make the immigration system fairer and more effective, to deter illegal entry into the UK, to remove from the UK those with no right to be here. There are fears that the clause will allow legal powers for a crackdown on illegal migrants.

Trade deal linked foreign investment
As the government proceeds with the task of forging post-Brexit trade deals expect to see headline grabbing agreements with target nations, such as India and the USA, designed to build closer partnerships in certain key industries including IT and green energy. Because of these closer links in specific sectors, immigration and foreign investment will align.

More young professionals from Hong Kong
Expect to see a steady flow of migrants from Hong Kong as those with British National (Overseas) status continue to take advantage of the route to the UK offered to them by British government. In 2021 there were around 88,800 visa applications from Hong Kong BNOs. Around 5.4m people are eligible. A recent survey found that the UK was the preferred option among BN(O)s in Hong Kong who expressed an interest in leaving the country, with 33% placing it as their top destination, ahead of second-place Taiwan (23%), Australia (15%) and Canada (11%). potential movers to the UK are predominantly young, educated and in full time employment.

Disruption will continue to hamper pent up demand
As we move into 2022, uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the omicron variant particularly will inevitably affect global movement of people but there remains pent-up demand from people who have put their immigration plans on hold until the situation stabilises. Migration from India will continue to be strong with an increased focus on the technology sector. We will also see an increase in the number of visa applications from African countries, and specifically from Nigeria as the professional class there grows and looks for international opportunities. The healthcare and care sectors in the UK will continue to be a draw for many overseas workers.

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