We take a look at the latest news affecting UK sponsoring businesses.

The MAC’s recommendations for the UK’s new Immigration Salary List

In last month’s newsletter we mentioned that the Home Office had commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a rapid review of the new Immigration Salary List (ISL). In December 2023, the UK government confirmed that the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) would be renamed and restructured.

The following changes were made on recommendation from the MAC and will come into effect on 4 April 2024:

  • The Shortage Occupation List to be replaced with the ISL.
  • The 20% “going rate” discount to be abolished.
  • The minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker visa to be raised from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • The minimum threshold for occupations on the ISL to be raised from £20,960 to £30,960 or the occupation-specific threshold, whichever is higher.

The MAC has recommended 21 occupations be included on the ISL, which represents only 8% of job roles eligible for the Skilled Worker route. This is a major reduction as previously 20% of jobs that were eligible for the Skilled Worker route were on the SOL.

Employers should keep in mind that the Home Office will be using the new SOC 2020 coding system from 4 April 2024 as any Certificates of Sponsorship issued from this date onwards will use the new coding system.

The India Young Professionals Scheme

The UK has opened its doors to thousands of young Indian professionals through the India Young Professionals Scheme. The first ballot of the year closed in February but will open again in July 2024.

This programme allows Indian citizens between 18 and 30 years old to live and work in the UK for two years.

Applicants must be selected in the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot before they can apply for this visa.

To be eligible for the ballot, candidates must:

  • Be an Indian citizen
  • Be between 18 and 30 years old
  • Have an eligible qualification at a bachelor’s degree or above (RQF 6, 7 or 8)
  • Have £2,530 in savings to support yourself in the UK.
  • Not have any children under the age of 18 who live with them or who they are financially responsible for.

While it is free to enter the ballot, applicants should only enter if they plan to apply for the visa which costs £298. The IHS fee also applies, which has recently been increased to £776 for every year that the visa is valid.

More flexibility for business visitors

On 7 December 2023, the UK government announced changes to expand the activities that certain types of business visitors to the UK can undertake without requiring a specific work visa. This offers more flexibility to those coming to the UK for business purposes.

  • Intra-corporate activities: Business visitors who have come to the UK to advise, consult, troubleshoot, provide training or share skills and knowledge are now allowed to work directly with clients as long as it’s related to a specific internal project that they have been brought in for.
  • Remote working: Employees are now able to work remotely whilst in the UK, as long as this is not the primary purpose of their visit, and it pertains to their employment in their home country. This means that your staff may now come to the UK on holiday, or business and answer emails or calls without any compliance risk.
  • Permitted paid engagements: The UK has expanded the capacities in which visitors may receive payment for their work, for up to one month. One such expansion is that speakers at conferences can now be paid. Permitted paid engagements now also fall under the visitor rules as opposed to being a category in its own right.
  • Flight crew: Between March and October, a pilot or cabin crew member can work temporarily in the UK under the Civil Aviation Authority approved Wet Lease Agreement, provided the individuals remain employed and paid overseas. 
  • Scientists, academics and researchers: Scientists and researchers may now take part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts. This was previously only expressly permitted for academics.
  • Lawyers: The list of permitted activities has been significantly expanded for lawyers. This has become the guidance of a non-exhaustive list as opposed to specific prescribed activities, including the provision of advice (to any client), advocacy, acting as an arbitrator, mediator or expert witness, conferences, teaching, litigation and transactional work.

We help individuals and businesses navigate all aspects of UK immigration and can assist with ongoing employee immigration management. Contact us at +44 (0) 20 7759 5307 or email workpermits@sableinternational.com.

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