UK immigration changes: what do US businesses need to know?

Published on 4th Jan 2017

Following on from the Brexit vote in summer 2016, in November the UK government announced a number of significant changes to UK immigration rules – with a promise of further changes to be announced in April 2017.

What are the changes?

Some of the changes instigated in November may well appear to be minor technical points, but they tighten up the current policy of “how can we say no” to any application by sharpening up definitions and interpretations.

For US companies with a UK operation, the changes to the UK work permit rules are more impactful.  The shorter-term intra-company visa options are closing – or have been closed, meaning that only long term visas (with higher minimum salary requirements) remain.  This looks to be a concerted effort to increase the cost of employing non-EU nationals, to encourage local recruitment.  Businesses have until April 2017 to submit short-term visas (up to 12 months), so it is worth reviewing UK plans ahead of that.

What’s on the horizon?

As the Brexit negotiations begin, we can expect to see further changes in UK government policy and strategy.  International businesses will hope that as there is an acknowledged belief in the value of international companies doing business in the UK, the UK government maintains the country as attractive and not prohibitive.  At present, no significant changes to the visa categories that facilitate the setting up of a UK business have been announced or rumoured.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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