Stricter policy makes it challenging to permanently stay in the United Kingdom, yet windows are still opening

A Global Talent evaluation report was commissioned by the Home Office in May of the previous year, which entailed interviewing over 300 Global Talent visa holders. The majority of respondents expressed satisfaction with the streamlined process, fair fees, and clear guidance. Notably, 90% of these individuals are presently employed or self-employed in the United Kingdom, with commensurate salaries reflecting their high levels of skill and expertise. It is crucial to highlight the potential bias in this market research, as it exclusively captures the perspectives of successful applicants. A more comprehensive assessment would involve interviewing those whose applications were not approved to gauge their satisfaction with the process, associated costs, and guidance.


To enquire about the British immigration system regarding the perceived efficacy of Canada’s immigration system, it becomes clear that decentralization is a key factor contributing to Canada’s success in absorbing immigrants. Comparatively, the UK’s immigration system, while diverse in channels, remains centralized. Unlike Canada, which delegates immigration decisions to federal, provincial, and community levels, the UK’s immigration pathways are consolidated on the Home Office website. This distinction underscores the complexity of the Canadian system, characterized by a multitude of projects, including federal projects leading to direct permanent residence, provincial nominations, and even community nominations.


To categorize immigration in the UK, it is essential to recognize several predominant pathways. Notably, the UK adheres to a consistent principle: obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain (aka ILR, Permanent Residence in the British way) is a gradual process rather than an immediate outcome. Even for family reunification, individuals, including spouses of British citizens, are required to initially secure a Family visa. Subsequently, residing in the UK for five years is a prerequisite for obtaining ILR. This approach, which emphasizes individual residence rather than family units, contributes to the comparatively lower immigration numbers in the UK.


The primary avenue for immigration in the UK is through work visas, with various subcategories. Skilled work visas, falling under the umbrella of wage earners, allow individuals to eventually transition to ILR upon meeting specified criteria. Entrepreneurial work visas, such as the Innovator Founder visa we operate, enable individuals to fulfill entrepreneurship requirements for ILR. Additionally, the Global Talent category allows individuals with specific backgrounds and qualifications to secure a work visa, work, and establish businesses in the UK, eventually leading to ILR contingent on income criteria.


Certain visas, such as the Graduate visa and the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, serve as short-term visas and require switching to Skilled work visas, Innovator Founder visa, or Global Talent visa for ILR. These visas function as stepping stones rather than direct pathways to ILR.


Recently, the government introduced a new policy affecting various visas, including Skilled work visas, Family visas, and Graduate visas, with adjustments to their respective thresholds. This modification is prompted by two key considerations. Firstly, an examination of annual data released by the British Home Office reveals that these specific visa categories constitute a significant portion of applications for ILR each year. Enhancing the application requirements for these visas is perceived as a strategic means to expeditiously and effectively achieve the targeted reduction in net migration of 300,000 individuals. Conversely, visa categories such as the Innovator Founder visa and Global Talent visa, which inherently attract fewer applicants, may not yield substantial results through heightened requirements.


Secondly, the proliferation of applicants for Skilled work visas, Family visas, and Graduate visas can be attributed to their relatively lenient entry criteria. Moreover, holders of these visas often bring accompanying spouses and children, thus availing themselves of benefits in the United Kingdom without necessarily contributing to the country. A research report issued by the British government last year surveyed over 300 Global Talent visa holders who had come to the UK. The findings revealed that more than 90% of these applicants were engaged in work or entrepreneurship, notwithstanding that the visa does not mandate such activities. This underscores the notion that genuine talent, capable of contributing to revenue generation, innovation, and job creation, is sought after by the UK.


Regulated Immigration Advisor Tony Wang points out that in numerous ongoing consultation scenarios, when applicants do not meet the work or family visa criteria, the Innovator Founder Visa emerges as the most viable alternative. As per the immigration data published by the Home Office in August 2023, the tally of applications for the Innovator Founder visa recorded in the initial half of 2022 amounted to 513 cases. In contrast, during the corresponding period in 2023, the number of applications surged to 634, indicating a noteworthy year-on-year escalation of 23%. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the application volume in the second quarter of 2023 stands as the highest among all quarters since the commencement of data recording in 2022.


Innovator Founder visa mandates that applicants substantiate the novelty, innovativeness, viability with growth prospects, and scalability of their business idea. Additionally, a minimum of B2 language proficiency or higher is a prerequisite. The initial grant is for a 3-year period, and upon the satisfaction of 2 out of the 7 specified business conditions within this timeframe, ILR can be obtained. Alternatively, if these conditions are not met, there is an option to renew the visa for an additional 3-year period. Notably, this visa currently represents the swiftest pathway to securing ILR among all available visa categories.


In summary, the overarching theme for the new year is a resolute stance: individuals who do not contribute substantively to the nation will face restrictions on entry. A new era of immigration to the UK has finally come.


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