From the beginning of October 2013 the UK’s Immigration Rules have been amended with specific reference to business visitors and overseas workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the Points Based System. This change is sure to have a positive and wide ranging impact on UK businesses and their relationships with companies around the world. So what’s changed, and why? As it stands Tier 2 acts as a means for highly skilled workers to come to the UK to work, bringing with them their expertise and strengthening relationships between international companies. The changes to the rules are intended to increase flexibility for eligible candidates, and to remove some barriers which existed before. Some of the most important changes are:
- The English language requirement for intra-company transferees has been waived. This should smooth the process for the redistribution of skilled staff between multinationals’ offices in the UK and abroad, allowing work to be completed more efficiently and ensuring that the right people are in the right place.
- The means for graduate entrepreneurs (non-European graduates who wish to remain in the UK to establish new businesses) to switch from Tier 1 to Tier 2 has been simplified, by the removal of the resident labour market test.
- The Business Visitor category has been expanded to allow for a greater range of activities (including short-term ‘recreational’ study) that may be undertaken while personnel are in the UK.
These changes have been made largely to reduce restrictions on multi-national companies which have their offices in the UK, but also to strengthen the UK’s relationships with other countries through business. Of course, for headhunters and those who are looking to be recruited this can only be positive. By enriching and expanding the UK’s pool of experienced business people, the options are sure to be greater for candidates looking for positions, employers seeking out the very best personnel for any given role and of course, the headhunting agencies that are there to enable such transitions.
In line with these changes is the recently launched Sirius Programme (http://www.siriusprogramme.com), an initiative championed by Cobra Beer founder Lord Karan Bilimoria and in conjunction with UK Trade and Investment, that on paper at least looks to follow the ‘Dragons’ Den’ model of offering investment and advice to global entrepreneurs who believe they have an idea or business with worldwide potential. Successful candidates (final year students and postgraduates) will be offered £12,000 investment along with a place on a business accelerator programme and assistance with relocating to the UK and setting up their business. It’s hoped that the programme will bring the best ideas from all over the world to the UK, which of course would be a huge boost for UK business but also send the message that the UK is a thriving hub for new ideas and new thinkers. Whether the scheme will achieve large scale success isn’t guaranteed of course, but it remains an exciting prospect and one which has the potential to dramatically boost the UK’s status as a desirable prospect for existing companies and new ventures.
Taken together, The Sirius Programme and the recent changes to the Immigration Rules show that the UK is committed not only to developing and strengthening existing business and international relationships but also to attracting the next generation of business leaders from other countries to our shores. Ultimately, headhunters and the companies that utilise them can only benefit from an increase in the skilled workforce and an influx of new talent eager to establish business roots in the UK.