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Changes in Immigration Rules

Volume 710: debated on Tuesday 15 March 2022

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Priti Patel) is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.

The main changes are as follows:

We have made changes to the immigration rules which will implement the plan for growth measures, including the launch of the new Global Business Mobility route, High Potential Individual (HPI) route and Scale-up route.

The sponsored Global Business Mobility route will simplify the UK immigration offer for business by bringing together, reforming and expanding various business mobility routes. It will provide routes for the following:

Senior executives and specialists undertaking temporary assignments at a UK branch or subsidiary of the business they work for—replacing the intra-company transfer route;

Graduate trainees undertaking a placement in the UK as part of a structured training programme—replacing the intra-company graduate trainee route;

Teams of workers sent to establish a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business—replacing the sole representative provisions in the representative of an overseas businesses route;

Service suppliers undertaking work covered by one of the UK’s commitments on trade in services—replacing the service supplier provisions in the temporary work international agreement route; and

A brand-new provision for secondments to UK businesses in connection with high value contracts for goods or investment.

The Global Business Mobility route represents a world-leading offer for businesses. For the first time, teams of workers will be able to undertake assignments connected to a business’s expansion to the UK, thereby facilitating inward investment, while the new provision for secondments is a world-first in enabling collaboration between UK and international businesses. These new and reformed routes will make mobility across the UK border as frictionless as possible, while at the same time ensuring international trade serves the interests of British workers and our economy.

Delivering on the Government’s commitment to build back better, we are launching two new immigration routes, the Scale-up and High Potential Individual routes. These routes will provide UK businesses access to a more flexible pool of highly skilled workers.

The Scale-up route recognises the benefits these high-growth businesses offer to the UK and the need to ensure they are fully supported in maintaining this growth at a key time.

Unlike other sponsored routes, the Scale-up route will only require individuals to be sponsored for the initial six months on the route. This will therefore enable UK businesses to compete for the internationally sought after, highly skilled workers they need to take these important high-growth businesses from strength to strength.

To ensure the Scale-up route is an attractive offer for this much sought-after cohort, it will allow for extensions of stay and settlement. To qualify, individuals must demonstrate, through a minimum level of PAYE earnings, they are employed in graduate level occupations.

The new High Potential Individual route will make it as simple as possible for internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential to come to the UK. It will be open to those graduating from top global non-UK universities, who hold a recently awarded degree, equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s or postgraduate degree. It will enable those who have already demonstrated their potential through academic achievement to come to the UK without a prior job offer. This will be a highly selective route with graduates of a limited number of universities eligible. The Home Office will update the list of eligible universities annually. Those granted will be given a two-year work visa—three-year for those with a PhD—and will be permitted to move into other long-term employment routes, subject to meeting the eligibility requirements. This route will support UK employers by enhancing the pool of the highly talented individuals available to UK businesses, by complementing the existing graduate route which allows a period of post-study work for international students graduating from UK universities.

To ensure the Global Talent visa continues to allow those at the very top of their professions a smooth application process, in consultation with our Global Talent endorsing bodies, we have further expanded the list of prestigious prizes which allow applicants to qualify without needing to apply for a separate endorsement decision.

We are also introducing a reformed route for settlement family life. This route applies to partners and parents who must complete a 10-year qualifying period in the UK before qualifying for settlement. People who have a 10-year qualifying period for settlement as a partner or parent begin to qualify for settlement in July 2022—the 10-year route started in July 2012 when Appendix FM was introduced—and the changes ensure they benefit from simplified rules.

We are also introducing a reformed private life route. This route introduces a number of changes for children and young people, including bringing the concession on early settlement, introduced on 20 October 2021, into the rules. It means children and young adults who have spent half their life in the UK can be granted settlement after a five-year qualifying period, rather than 10 years. This allows for a child who was born in the UK and who spent their first seven years here to qualify for immediate settlement. The reformed private life route also clarifies that where an adult has permission on this route, their children born in the UK during the parent’s time on the route can qualify for permission as the parent’s dependants. These rules allow for increased flexibility for applicants to count time on other routes to settlement towards their qualifying period, meaning when a person’s circumstances change their qualifying period for settlement does not have to start again. The changes also ensure an applicant with a criminal conviction resulting in a sentence of 12 months or more cannot qualify for settlement, and they make clear, where a person has breached other suitability rules but nevertheless been granted permission to stay in the UK, they must complete a 10-year qualifying period, and at least five years showing compliance since the breach, before they can qualify for settlement.

The changes to the private life route also aim to ensure applicants on the private life route benefit from simplified rules.

Changes are also being made in respect of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), which enables EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, and their family members and the family members of certain British citizens returning with them from the EEA or Switzerland, to obtain the UK immigration status they need to continue living in the UK. Some changes are also being made in respect of the EUSS family permit, which enables relevant family members to travel to the UK.

In particular, these changes reflect the concession arrangements in place outside the rules for an EUSS family permit to be issued in place of an EEA family permit in certain circumstances. These arrangements reflect the closure of the EEA family permit route after 30 June 2021 and enable those covered by them to apply to the EUSS following their arrival in the UK.

The changes also enable a dual British and EEA citizen who exercised free movement rights in the UK before acquiring British citizenship and who has retained their EEA nationality of origin—known as a “Lounes” dual national, in line with EU case law—to sponsor relevant family members under the EUSS and the EUSS family permit in some additional circumstances. These are where the dual national acquired British citizenship without having met free movement requirements to have held comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK as a student or self-sufficient person.

There are also changes on validity of applications and about variation of applications.

Finally, the seasonal worker route is being expanded to include roles in ornamental horticulture, to support our distinguished flower growers in the UK. A new minimum hourly pay requirement has been added to the route to require that all workers will be paid at least £10.10 per hour. This will be equal to the minimum hourly rate that those applying on the skilled worker route are required to meet to discourage poor conditions often seen in the sector.