The most significant changes are:
- The addition of the Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme;
- The introduction of the Innovator Founder route on 13 April 2023; and
- The changes to salary considerations for worker routes from 12 April 2023.
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme:
This scheme will apply to third country nationals (e.g. not British or Irish) who are visiting or transiting through the UK and do not currently require a visa for short stays, including short stays for those using the Creative Worker route.
From 25 October 2023, the scheme will apply to nationals of Qatar visiting the UK from 15 November 2023. Followed by nationals from the below listed countries who will require an ETA application from 1 February 2024 for travel to the UK on or after 22 February 2023:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
More countries are expected to be added to the scheme at a later date.
The ETA is valid for a period of two years at a time, subject to the expiry date of the passport used. Applications will be made using the UK ETA app or online once live.
Decisions should be made within three working days. Once approved, an ETA will be issued electronically and linked to the individual’s passport. This request for permission to travel to the UK must be approved prior to arrival.
New Innovator Founder route
In another re-branding exercise, the Innovator and Start-up routes are now combined into one new route.
The stringent criteria has become more flexible. There is no longer a £50,000 minimum funds requirement. Individuals will also be able to engage in employment outside the running of their business, unlike Innovator visa holders. This is provided that the secondary employment is in a skilled work of at least RQF Level 3 (high school leaver and above).
Extension applications will be possible under the Innovator Founder – Same Business criteria.
Settlement can be available after spending three years continuously in the UK under this route.
Salary considerations for worker routes
The minimum salary requirements have been updated in accordance with recent UK salary data.
For Skilled Workers the salary threshold has increased from £25,600 to £26,200. For Global Business Mobility Senior and Specialist workers the requirement is now as £45,800 as opposed to £42,400, along with £24,220 for Graduate Trainees and £34,600 for Scale-up workers.
Annual salaries will also now be based on a 37.5 hour week, rather than the traditional 39 weekly hours. The updated Rules also confirm how salaries will be considered on the Certificate of Sponsorship for those working shift patterns or irregular hours each week.
Additionally, Jury service and attending court as a witness has been added to the list of reasons where absences from employment are permitted when assessing the continuity of employment.
Further changes to the Rules
As always, changes have been made to reflect relevant international and trade agreements. Nationals and permanent residents from Australia applying for the Global Business Mobility – Expansion Worker route will not need to show that they have worked for their overseas employer for the 12 months prior their application.
Nationals from New Zealand are now able to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme up to the age of 35, rather than 30. The maximum length of stay has also been increased from two to three years.
The Returning Resident rules have been updated to allow someone whose Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK has lapsed, to make an application to resume their settlement even if they have subsequently returned to the UK as a visitor in the interim period. Individuals must still make their applications from outside the UK.
There have also been a number of clarifications given under the EU Settlement Scheme, including in relation to the rules for durable partners and incorporating the Zambrano concession for primary carers of British citizens.
Should you require further guidance and assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your Magrath Sheldrick representative or email us at [email protected].