"The new category fails to grasp that the UK needs a variety of talent at all levels and not just the brightest and the best to thrive in a post-Brexit world."
Following the launch of the new fast-track immigration visa, aimed at attracting the world’s top talent to the UK, specialist immigration lawyer Mandie Sewa examines the potential drawbacks of the new system.
The Global Talent visa, which went live on 20 February, replaces the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category but has been heavily criticised as being largely a ‘rebrand’ of the existing category.
There are two parts to this visa; stage one is an assessment of skills, abilities and achievements by an external body which then advises the Home Office on whether the applicant should be endorsed. Stage two is when the Home Office decides on immigration aspects of the application.
Mandie Sewa is a partner and specialist immigration lawyer at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP. She said: “The new category fails to grasp that the UK needs a variety of talent at all levels and not just the ‘brightest and the best’ to thrive in a post-Brexit world.
“Although the visa is open to global talent generally, in practice it seems to aim to attract scientists, researchers and mathematicians. This is evident from the number of endorsing bodies and scope they have.
“It doesn’t account for businesses who employ workers who are not highly skilled. The government’s approach seems to be low skilled = low priority and that won’t allow British business to compete on a global scale. Industries like agriculture, food production and social care are going to be significantly impacted upon.”
Unlike the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category there is no cap on the number of people able to come to the UK, nor is there a points scoring table.
Mandie said: “Applicants may be drawn to the seeming flexibilty of this new route – for example there is no requirement to hold a job offer before arrival to the UK (or remain in the same job), no minimum salary requirement and no Home Office requirement to pass an
English test. Partners and children under 18 can join them and settlement may be granted after three years.
“However, a closer examination of the immigration rules reveals despite the apparent flexibility there are a number of restrictions, especially for applicants hosted or employed in a UKRI-approved research organisation and in receipt of a research grant.”
Another change is the removal of the genuineness test requirement, replaced with a credibility assessment that will be assessed by the endorsing bodies rather than the Home Office.
Mandie said: “This is a welcome change as Home Office caseworkers often don’t have any knowledge of how a business works in practice.
“There is however, a lack of clear criteria from endorsing bodies as to what is expected from migrants coming to the UK under some routes.
“A lot of people don’t realise the effect on the general public’s lives will be significant if the system goes ahead in its current format. It’s very simple things like if you go to hospital will there be enough porters or cleaners? Will you be served your morning coffee at the coffee shop? Will it be possible to reduce your carbon footprint by buying British meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables if there are no workers?”
Mandie has over 19 years’ experience in UK immigration and nationality law and has been ranked as a leading immigration lawyer in the by Legal 500. She joined Clarke Willmott in July 2019 as the Head of the Immigration Department.
She assists individuals with a variety of personal immigration matters and companies of all sizes with issues such as employing non-EU nationals, Sponsor Licencing, implications of Brexit and the Prevention of Illegal Working.
Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.
For more information visit www.clarkewillmott.com