Red carpet

Recent government action has sparked concern among developing businesses that depend on international talent; but there is still a route through. In David Cameron’s first immigration speech following the General Election he stated that ‘training British workers is a priority, therefore lowering the number of skilled workers required to come to the UK.’ However he went on to say that ‘this new approach to immigration will not stop us from rolling out the red carpet for the brightest and the best’. As the UK struggles to fill the immediate skills shortage, the need to retain and attract key international talent remains crucial.

The UK immigration rules allow a number of options for attracting international talent, some of which are highlighted below.

  • The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category allows migrants wishing to either establish a new business or join an existing business to enter or remain in the UK. The route requires a minimum investment of either £50,000/£200,000 (depending on source of funds). Migrants who are in the UK studying at higher education institutions may also wish to consider the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. This allows recent graduates from certain institutions to remain in the UK to pursue business ventures.
  • The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is a route for exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology who wish to work in the UK. These individuals are already internationally recognised at the highest level as world leaders in their particular field, or have already demonstrated exceptional promise and are likely to become world leaders in their particular area.
  • Tier 2 Sponsorship allows skilled workers to enter or remain in the UK to undertake specific jobs with specific employers. All employers wishing to sponsor Tier 2 migrants must first obtain a sponsor licence. Prior to offering a role to a migrant the employer will need to determine that the role is sufficiently skilled and appropriately remunerated. In many cases, they will also need to canvas the UK/EU marketplace in advance to ensure that no suitable resident worker is available to fill the role.
While there is no cap on the number of migrants who can apply under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category, the UK Government has capped the Graduate Entrepreneur, the Exceptional Talent and Tier 2 General Sponsorship categories.

When considering which immigration option is right for you or your company you should always plan ahead to make sure all the relevant criteria are met.

By Pat Saini, Partner, Head of Immigration, Penningtons Manches LLP