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UK Unveiled A Plan for Immigration Reform

Mayer Brown
15/03/2021

The UK Government unveiled its economic recovery plan in a policy proposal entitled, “Build Back Better: our plan for growth”, detailing specific courses of action and priorities essential to the rebuilding and uplifting of the British economy out from underneath Covid-19 and into the post-Brexit world.  In doing so, the proposal sets out a series of reforms that highlight the three core pillars of growth needed to distribute investment and opportunity equally across the four nations: Infrastructure, Skills, and Innovation.  At the core of these changes lies a paradigm shift in the UK’s immigration policy, from the constrained, controlled policies of the past decade, towards a more open, supply-driven approach in which, for the first time ever, the same rules on migration will be applied to both EU and non-EU citizens.

Underscoring the introduction of a new system of work-based immigration is the awareness that the UK needs to compete with the international demand for talent in order to properly address the economic upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and prepare for their departure from the EU single market. Through a proactive global outreach strategy alongside a series of immigration reforms, the UK can attract and retain this globally mobile, high-skilled migration central to its plans to bolster the international competitiveness of its high-growth innovative businesses.  To this end, the reforms announced include:

  • Introduction of an elite points-based route to attract top talent to the UK so as to maintain its status as a leading international hub for emerging and disruptive technologies;
  • Creation of a ‘scale up’ stream within the new points-based route that will allow those with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognized UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa;
  • Reform of the Global Talent route by expanding the criteria in Spring 2021 so that global prize winners automatically qualify and which will be broadened by Autumn 2021 to include winners of scholarships and other elite programs for early promise;
  • Review of the Innovator route to promote those with the skills and experience to found innovative businesses in the UK to obtain a visa – the conclusions of the review will be set out in the Innovation Strategy in Summer 2021;
  • Launch, by Spring 2022, a single sponsored Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish their presence or transfer staff to the UK;
  • Support small firms who are navigating the sponsorship system for the first time;
  • Modernize the immigration system by streamlining sponsorship processes. The UK Government will publish a delivery roadmap in the summer; and
  • Expand the Global Entrepreneur Program, actively market our visa offerings, and explore building an overseas talent network in global talent hotspots.

As we are expecting that the UK Government to continue publishing additional guidance on these changes, please continue to follow our updates on or blog, The Mobile Workforce.