The Home Office recently published its Spring Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, which set out a wide range of reforms to the existing visa application rules. Some of these changes will take effect from as early as 12 April 2023.
Key changes which will affect businesses and individuals are highlighted below:
New Innovator Founder route
This is a new route for individuals who wish to come to the UK to set up a business from 13 April 2023. This replaces both the existing Start-up and Innovator routes. The Innovator Founder route removes the requirement under the Innovator route to hold at least a minimum of £50,000 to invest into their business. Consequently it removes the financial barrier for new entrepreneurs considering starting a business in the UK. Instead, applicants will need to prove they have a genuine proposal for their business, which will be assessed by an endorsing body, and have sufficient funds in place. The rules have been further simplified by replacing the long list of endorsing bodies to three only.
The Innovator Founder route will also relax restrictions surrounding secondary employment for visa holders and therefore makes it easier for founders to take on outside work to support themselves in the early stages of their business ventures. The applicants would need to show that the second job qualifies as a skilled role (i.e. at least RQF Level 3 or in other words skilled to A-level or equivalent).
Increases to general salary under work routes
The general salary thresholds for sponsored work routes have increased from 12 April 2023. The minimum gross annual salary increases for each immigration route have been summarised below:
1. Skilled Workers: £26,200 (previously £25,600)
2. Global Business Mobility:
- Senior or Specialist Workers: £45,800 (previously £42,400)
- Graduate Trainees: £24,220 (previously £23,100)
- UK Expansion Workers: £45,800 (previously £42,400)
3. Scale-up Workers: £34,600 (previously £33,000)
Increases to minimum hourly rate for work routes
The minimum hourly rates for the Skilled Worker and Seasonal Worker routes have also increased to the following:
- Skilled Worker: £10.75 (previously £10.10)
- Seasonal Worker: £10.42 (previously £10.10)
Enhanced Youth Mobility Scheme
The Youth Mobility Scheme is the UK’s reciprocal exchange programme for young people from participating countries.
Under the changes, Australia has been allotted an additional 5,000 places on the scheme (total of 35,000 places), with Canada receiving an extra 2,000 (total of 8,000 places).
The UK’s arrangement with New Zealand has been enhanced and the eligibility age range for New Zealanders will be 18 to 35 rather than 18 to 30. The length of stay is also increasing from two to three years. These changes reflect the large number of applicants applying from these countries.
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)
The UK is introducing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) which must be applied for in advance of travel by anyone wishing to travel to the UK as a visitor (excluding British and Irish citizens) and do not require a visa to do so. The list of non-visa nationals will be extended to include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
The ETA scheme will open on 25 October 2023 for Qatari nationals who intend to travel to the UK on or after 15 November 2023. The scheme will open on 1 February 2024 for nationals of United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Oman for those who intend to travel to the UK on or after 22 February 2024.
Our experienced team of Immigration lawyers are on hand to advise on all aspects of personal and business immigration law.