As Home Secretary Priti Patel laid out further details of the UK's post-Brexit points-based immigration system in Parliament, Indian companies can see much promise in the levelling up of the playing field.
The new points-based immigration system (PBS), first announced by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in February, is now laid out in full detail before the UK Parliament. Indian industry has widely welcomed the new changes, which they believe signal that the UK is open for business and ready to accept global talent. It is hoped that as a result of the new post-Brexit system, which brings the rules at par for countries within and outside the European Union (EU), will help provide Indian investors and businesses a more comprehensive understanding of the UK′s aspirations for its future relationship with India.
“The new system will benefit Indian companies and employees doing business in the UK. It is equitable and will provide level playing field to EU and non-EU citizens seeking assignments and skilled jobs in the UK,” said Baroness Prashar, Chairperson of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) UK Council. Jim Bligh, Chair of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) UK India Business Forum, notes: “It's positive that the UK is seeking to attract highly-skilled nationals from across the world, regardless of nationality. “Across all sectors, Indian businesses bring in highly skilled nationals from around the world to help UK plc grow and compete. From high tech to haute cuisine, engineering to drug design, a smooth, skills-focused immigration system should help Indian companies across the economy to flourish in Britain in the years ahead.”
The PBS will come into force from January 1 next year, at the end of the ongoing Brexit transition period which concludes on December 31. The UK government pegs its as a “fairer, firmer, skills-led” regime that will include a new Health and Care Visa and post-study work visa.
Priti Patel said: “The British people voted to take back control of our borders and introduce a new points-based immigration system.
“Now we have left the EU, we are free to unleash this country's full potential and implement the changes we need to restore trust in the immigration system and deliver a new fairer, firmer, skills-led system from 1 January 2021. Britain is open for business and ready to welcome the best and brightest global talent.”
At the end of this year, the UK will no longer be part of the EU free movement of people rules and under the British government′s plan, those wishing to live and work in the UK from January 1, 2021, must gain 70 points, awarded for meeting criteria such as having a job offer, holding a PhD relevant to the job, speaking English or earning more than GBP 22,000 a year. Those with job offers in "shortage occupations", such as nursing and civil engineering, would be able to earn extra points.
According to the UK Home Office, the further details being published will give employers the time to prepare as the new immigration system is implemented in phases to ensure smooth delivery.
A new Health and Care Visa for key health professionals, including from India, will make it easier and cheaper for health professionals to work in the UK, ensuring the state-funded National Health Service (NHS) has continued access to the top global talent. The new “fast-track” visa was previously referred to by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the NHS Visa.
“This will make it easier and quicker for talented global health professionals to work in our brilliant NHS and in eligible occupations in the social care sector. The visa fee will be reduced and health professionals applying can expect a decision on whether they can work in the UK within just three weeks, following biometric enrolment,” notes Patel, in a written statement to the House of Commons.
Also, in recognition of a long-standing demand of Indian doctors and healthcare professionals in the UK, these healthcare workers will be exempt from the annual Immigration Health Surcharge.
“We will exempt frontline workers in the health and social care sector and wider health workers from the requirement to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge,” adds the Cabinet minister.
A new Graduate Route, already announced to commence from 2021, will allow international students to stay in the UK once they have successfully completed their studies. Overseas students, including Indians, who have completed undergraduate and master's degrees will be able to stay for two years and those who have completed PhD can stay for three years, making it easier for some of the “best, international graduates to secure skilled jobs in the UK and contribute to the UK's economic growth”.
The new points-based system will also expand the skills threshold for skilled workers and an applicant's job must be at the minimum skill level of A-level or equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system. This will provide greater flexibility and ensure UK business has access to a wide pool of skilled workers, the Home Office said.
FICCI's UK Council described the new visa routes as a very welcome initiative, which will help attract Indian talent and business ideas.
Baroness Prashar said: “The fast-track healthcare visa is a welcome initiative. The Graduate Route will help retain the brightest and best students to contribute to the UK. The Start-up and Innovator routes will attract Indian entrepreneurial talent and scalable business ideas to the UK. It will also encourage innovation.
“Access to highly skilled talent is critical especially for India's service sector which generates substantial number of jobs in the UK. It will also benefit sectors like IT, financial services amongst others.”