Latest Immigration Rule Changes: for business people and workers

The Government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules for business people and workers. The headline changes include the closure of the Start-up visa route, replacing the current Innovator route, and increases to salary thresholds under the Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility, Scale-up and Seasonal Worker routes.

New Immigration Rules have been laid before Parliament by way of the ‘Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules: HC 1160’, the full version of which can be found here. The majority of new provisions come into force on 12 April 2023.

Start-up visa

The Start-up route will close to new applicants on 13 April 2023.  Initial applications will only be accepted where they are supported by endorsements issued before 13 April 2023 and the application is made by 12 July 2023. The route will close to all new applicants on 13 July 2023. The Start Up visa route was designed for people wishing to start an innovative business in the UK. It was seen as a helpful steppingstone to the main visa route for people wishing to establish a business in the UK, the Innovator route. The advantages of the Start Up route were the absence of the requirement to hold investment funds and the availability of endorsements from higher education providers, making it an attractive route for international students. The closure of the route will be disappointing for university incubator schemes. However, the Graduate route can be used by international students to get their business off the ground, and the new Innovator Founder route offers a visa without the need to hold investment funds.

Innovator Founder route

The new route removes the £50k minimum funds requirement currently applied to those coming to the UK to establish an innovative business. The changes also relax existing restrictions on Innovator migrants engaging in employment outside the running of their business, provided such secondary employment is in skilled roles (i.e., at least skilled to RQF Level 3).

Salary Thresholds

From 12 April 2023, salary thresholds and going rates for occupations are being increased. These changes relate to the Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility, Scale-up and Seasonal Worker routes.

  • ‘Examples include increasing the minimum salary thresholds for:
  • Skilled Worker from:
  • ○ £25,600 to £26,200 (in relation to the general salary threshold)
  • ○ £23,040 to £23,580 (in relation to the salary threshold where the applicant has a PhD in a subject relevant to the job)
  • ○ £20,480 to £20,960 (in relation to the lower salary threshold)
  • ○ £10.10 to £10.75 (in relation to the minimum hourly rate)
  • GBM-Senior or Specialist Worker and GBM-Graduate Trainee from £42,400 to £45,800 and £23,100 to £24,220 respectively.’

Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETA)

The ETA scheme provides advance permission to visitors prior to travel to the UK. The ETA scheme will apply to third country national (i.e., not British or Irish) passengers visiting the UK or transiting the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays, as well as those using the Creative Worker route for a short stay.

The introduction of the scheme will be staggered. The Home Office’s statement confirms as follows:‘

Whilst appendix ETA comes into force on 12 April 2023, the ETA scheme will initially only apply to Qatari nationals who intend to travel to the UK on or after 15 November 2023 (the application process will open on 25 October 2023). The scheme will then be expanded to include other nationalities, and the application process will open to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia on 1 February 2024 (who intend to travel to the UK on or after 22 February 2024).’

Global Business Mobility

Australian nationals and permanent residents coming to the UK to open a branch or subsidiary of their Australian employer will not need to demonstrate that they have worked for their overseas employer for 12 months prior to coming to the UK. This is pursuant to the commitments the UK has made in the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Youth Mobility Scheme

From 12 April, the annual allocation of visas under the Youth Mobility Scheme is increasing for Australian nationals (30,000 to 35,000) and Canadian nationals (6,000 to 8,000). Also, for nationals of New Zealand only:

  • The age range is being expanded from 18-30 to 18-35; and
  • the length of stay is being increased from 2 to 3 years.

Global Talent

Various changes to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements come into effect on 12 April 2023.

If you require further information on these changes and how they will affect you or your business, then please contact a member of our Immigration Team who will be happy to assist.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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