UK Immigration Law Changes 2024: Key Updates and Their Impact on Businesses

The UK government has introduced several significant changes to immigration laws in 2024, which will impact businesses that rely on foreign talent. Key updates include an increase in the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) from £624 to £1,035 per year, substantially raising the cost of securing visas for foreign workers. Additionally, fines for employing illegal workers will triple, with first offenses now attracting penalties of £45,000, and repeated breaches facing fines of up to £60,000.

Skilled Worker Visa Salary Requirements:

The salary threshold for skilled worker visas will increase from £26,200 to £38,700. This significant rise is intended to reduce the number of skilled worker visa applications and address concerns over immigration levels. However, it will also pose challenges for businesses that rely on overseas talent to address domestic labor shortages.

Impact on Businesses:

  • Increased Costs: The higher IHS and fines mean businesses will face increased costs when hiring foreign workers. This could impact budget allocations and financial planning.
  • Talent Acquisition Challenges: The increased salary requirements may make it more difficult for businesses to attract and retain skilled foreign talent, particularly in industries experiencing domestic labor shortages.
  • Compliance Pressures: Ensuring compliance with the new regulations will be critical to avoid hefty fines and legal complications. This will require rigorous internal audits and possibly consulting with immigration experts to navigate the complexities of the new laws.

Preparation Strategies:

To prepare for these changes, businesses should reassess their hiring practices and budget allocations for immigration-related expenses. Reviewing and adjusting compensation packages to meet the new salary thresholds will be essential. Additionally, exploring alternative talent pools, such as domestic workers or other visa categories, can help mitigate the impact of the new regulations.

Staying informed and proactive in adapting to these changes will be crucial for maintaining operational efficiency and compliance in 2024 and beyond.

A New Fixed Costs Regime

A new Fixed Costs Regime is coming into force on 1 October 2023 for most claims worth between £25,000 and £100,000, where the trial would last no more than three days. This will be known as the Intermediate Track.

Currently there is no limit on the amount of the costs that a successful party may recover from the losing party for such claims, other than that they must be proportionate and reasonably incurred. This generally means that the costs will not be permitted to exceed the value of the claim.

For claims in this bracket issued after 1 October 2023, the successful party will only be able to recover the fixed costs which have been set by the Ministry of Justice. These fall into four bands, depending on the complexity of the case.

London weighting of 12.5% will be added to the fixed costs where the party lives or has a business in London or within the jurisdiction of the Bromley, Croydon, Dartford, Gravesend, and Uxbridge County Court hearing centres.

So for example, under the new regime, a claim allocated to Complexity Band 3 that reaches a two day trial where judgment is given at the end of the trial, the Claimant is awarded the sum of £60,000. And, where Counsel has drafted the Particulars of Claim, advised in writing, and attended the trial, the fixed costs that are recoverable from the losing party will be £42,800 (or £48,150 with London weighting).

Potential Claimants are therefore encouraged to consider whether they should start to pursue any existing claims now so that they are ready to issue court proceedings before 1 October 2023, after having complied with any pre-action procedure as required by the Civil Procedure Rules. This will avoid having their recoverable costs limited by the new fixed costs regime.

Should you have any questions, please please do not hesitate to contact Michael Shapiro directly on: [email protected] or 0207 822 2246.

© 2023 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

The Growth Plan 2022: Highlights

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, delivered the Growth Plan 2022 on 23 September 2022. The document is setting out the plans to address energy costs and assist businesses and households.

Below is a summary of the key announcements for the private client world.

Income tax
  •  The basic rate of income tax will be reduced from 20% to 19%.
  • The additional rate of income tax (currently 45%) will be abolished, leaving a single higher rate of 40%.
  • From 6 April 2023 the dividend ordinary rate will be reduced to 7.5%. The dividend upper rate will be reduced to 32.5%. The dividend additional rate will be removed.
 Stamp duty land tax
  • The residential nil rate band will be doubled to £250,000.
  • The level first time buyers start paying stamp duty will be increased from £300,000 to £425,000.
  • First time property buyers will have access the relief when they buy a property costing up to £625,000 instead of £500,000.
National Insurance Contributions
  • The 1.25% increase will be reversed from 6 November 2022.
  •  Thehealth and social care levy set out in the Health and Social Care Levy (Repeal) Bill and will be cancelled.
  • The NICs thresholds that were increased earlier in 2022 will be maintained.
EIS and VCT
  • The government will continue to support the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCT).
Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)
  • The maximum amount a company can raise via SEIS investment will be increased from £150,000 to £250,000
  • The gross asset limit will be increased from £200,000 to £350,000.
  • The age limit for eligible companies will be increased from two to three years.
  • The annual investor limit will be increased from £100,000 to £200,000.
Corporation tax
  •  The rise in the main rate of corporation tax from 19% to 25% scheduled for April 2023 has been abolished.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on [email protected] or 0207 822 2257

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Trust Registration Service: Update

Background

All trusts with a UK tax liability have been required to register under the Tax Registration Service (TRS) since March 2018. Following the country’s adoption of the EU’s 5th Money Laundering Directive, the scope of the TRS has been expanded. As a result of the change, all existing UK trusts and some non-UK trusts, irrespective of whether the trust has a UK tax liability, need to now register with HMRC too, unless they fall within the list of excluded trusts.

What are excluded trusts?

 Excluded trusts include but are not limited to:

  • charitable trusts;
  • will trusts (for the first two years after date of death only);
  • co-ownership trusts where legal and beneficial owners are the same person;
  • bank accounts for minors;
  • trusts for bereaved minors or adults aged 18-25;
  • trusts of life policies paying out on death, terminal illness or disability;
  • trusts imposed by courts or created by legislation.

It is important to note that bare trusts have not been excluded and, therefore, will be required to register.

What information is required?

The following information will need to be provided:

  • trust name;
  • status;
  • details of assets;
  • reference numbers of settlor, trustees and beneficiaries.
Who is the information available to?

 The register can be viewed by HMRC and law enforcement authorities.

What is the registration deadline?

 The deadline for registrations for non-taxable trusts is 1 September 2022.

Are there any other deadlines?

 Both taxable and non-taxable trusts will have 90 days to report any changes.  If the trust is taxable, a declaration that the trust is up to date needs to be made on an annual basis by 31 January.

What to do next?

 Trustees have a legal duty to comply with the HMRC reporting requirements. If you have any questions, please contact us, and we will advise on the above.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on [email protected] or 0207 822 2257, or Alla Stepanyants on [email protected] or 0207 822 2222.

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Machine Learning engineer? Why you should consider the UK for your next move

LinkedIn has listed Machine Learning Engineer as second place in this year’s 20 most in-demand job titles in the UK. Top locations for this position include London, Cambridge and Edinburgh, and employers are generally asking for around three years of experience. Interestingly, while Data Engineers and Back End Developer roles are also in demand, London and Manchester are the most popular locations.

If you’re thinking of relocating here, the UK is attractive for many reasons; here are just a few:

  • The average base pay for a Machine Learning Engineer is £51,487, and it goes up to a six-figure salary for the right person (Glassdoor[1]).
  • The UK is ranked third in the world for private venture capital investment into AI companies; in 2019, investment into the UK reached almost £2.5bn. It’s also home to a third of Europe’s total AI companies.
  • More and more Unicorn start-ups[2] are making their presence felt in the UK, with three in four of the UK’s unicorn companies based in London. As this includes all 20 fintech unicorns[3], the demand for a skilled workforce couldn’t be higher.
  • The UK offers the most flexible visa for specialists and highly skilled individuals. The traditional Skilled Worker visa route is readily available if you qualify to enter the UK market on a sponsored route.
  • Alternatively, the Global Talent Visa offers great flexibility if you’re a highly accomplished ML engineer. A successful application will get you through a fast-track route to permanent residency status after three years and you wouldn’t be bonded to any employer throughout the visa duration.

The UK also offers a fantastic work-life balance for professionals with a family. With excellent commuting routes, you wouldn’t necessarily have to live in London. With access to an exceptional school system and being strategically located geographically, it’s a smooth ride for your family members if they relocate to the UK with you.

At GSC Solicitors LLP, we advise clients on all aspects of Immigration, UK tax, and UK employment law. If you’re considering moving to the UK for work, get in touch with our specialist immigration team to discuss your options. Call our Private & Corporate Immigration expert Shareena Rahman on +44 (0)20 7822 2222 or email [email protected]

[1] https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/machine-learning-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,25.htm

[2] https://startupsoflondon.com/the-complete-list-of-unicorn-startups-in-the-uk-2021/

[3] https://www.beauhurst.com/research/unicorn-companies/

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

The Register of Overseas Entities: Questions & Answers

Why is the Register of Overseas Entities being introduced?

The UK government is introducing a ‘Register of Overseas Entities’ to achieve transparency of property ownership where any UK property is held by an overseas entity. The government is looking to disincentivise foreign criminals from using UK property to launder money while continuing to provide legitimate businesses with an opportunity to invest in the United Kingdom.

The deadline for registration will be 6 months from the commencement of this new law.

Who will the measures apply to?

 The measures will apply to the following foreign owners of UK property:

  • any companies or legal entities governed by the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom
  • individuals who have significant influence or control over the entity.
 What property will the measures apply to?

 The measures will apply to property bought since January 1999 in England and Wales and since December 2014 in Scotland.

 What will the Register do?

The ‘Register of Overseas Entities’ will:

  • provide more information for law enforcement to assist with identifying criminals who use UK property to launder money
  • require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their identity
  • bring the regulations in line with those for UK companies owning property in the United Kingdom who are already obliged to disclose their beneficial owners to Companies House
  • impose sanctions for non-compliance.
What will foreign property owners have to do?

 This regime is modelled on the “People with Significant Control” (PSC) regime which is already in place for UK Companies. Foreign entities will now have to register their beneficial owners at Companies House.

Beneficial owners include those individuals who own more than 25% of the shares or have significant influence or control over the foreign entity.

 What will the sanctions for noncompliance be?

 There will be civil sanctions in the form of financial penalties of up to £500 per day, restrictions on dealing with property as well as criminal sanctions for both owners and managing officers.

 Review

 Currently there are approximately 90,000 properties in the UK that are owned by offshore companies and this new legislation has been sitting on the shelve for 4 years. However, it has taken the crisis in Ukraine to put this now on the top of the political agenda.

It is doubtful how this new legislation will succeed in dealing with those criminals or individuals on the Sanction list who use UK property to launder their funds. The flaws of the new legislation is the same as those being faced by the current PSC regime for UK Companies. The main disadvantages being that it is still possible to create structures so that the real individual is hidden from the register and that there is no mechanism to check that the information that is provided is true.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact James Cohen directly on [email protected] or 0207 822 2257.

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

Application for the Ukrainian Humanitarian Route

Further support for Ukrainians fleeing Russia invasion

Thousands more Ukrainians will be welcomed to the UK as the Government continues its support for Ukraine in their fight against the Russian invasion.

The Prime Minister this morning (March 1) announced an expansion to our Ukrainian Humanitarian Route, which will increase the number of people from Ukraine who are eligible to come to the UK to be reunited with their families.

As well as immediate family members, British nationals and people of any nationality settled in the UK will now be supported to bring parents, grandparents, adult children and siblings to the UK. British nationals and people settled in the UK will be able to bring extended family members to the UK and sponsored humanitarian visa route will be established.

Assistance available to Ukrainian family members of British nationals and family members of Ukrainian residents in the UK.

The new changes will allow the arrival of Ukrainian immediate family members of families of British citizens and people living in the UK:

Who are considered to be the immediate family members?

  • Spouse/Unmarried partner
  • Children below 18 y/o
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Adult offspring above 18 y/o
  • Siblings and their immediate family members
  • a full-time relative you look after, who lives with you due to health

NO APPLICATION FEE

NO English language and salary requirements

People who successfully apply under this scheme will be granted an initial leave of 12 months.

If you meet the requirements and want your relatives to join you, please contact the hotline and apply.

You will be informed if you qualify to apply. You will also be given the information on how to submit the free application.

Telephone: +44 300 3032785 – select option 1 (0300 3032785 if you’re in the UK – select option 1)

Lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

This is a free phone number, but network charges may still apply.

Once you apply, you need to contact a visa centre in the neighbouring country to register biometric data after applying.

Visa centres where you can submit biometric data:

  • Poland- An additional visa centre has been created in Zhešuví, Poland.
  • Moldova
  • Hungary

Basic security checks will be carried out, taking into account Russia’s offensive actions regarding infiltration into Ukraine, but the UKVI will continue to accelerate this process and consider applications as soon as possible.

UKVI aims to process these applications within 24 hours from the date when the applicant registers his biometric information.

For any questions or assistance please do not hesitate to contact us directly on +44(0) 207 8222222 or get in touch with our Immigration experts, Hateem Ali on [email protected] or +44(0)207 822 2209, or Shareena Rahman on [email protected] or +44(0)207 822 2222.

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-support-for-ukrainians-fleeing-russia-invasion

 

Investor visa route closure

The Home Office announced last week that they are shutting the ‘Golden visa’ Investor visa route with immediate effect. This is amid pressure on ministers to cut UK ties to Russia over the threat of invasion to Ukraine.

The UK investor visa was first introduced in 2008, and while the visa traditionally attracts Russian, Chinese and the Middle Eastern investors, it has recently attracted western investors post-Brexit.

In 2020, a total of 216 visas were issued; in 2019, the figure was 360. Figures show that mainland China was the largest source of successful applicants (23), followed by Russia (12), the US (10), Canada (8) and Hong Kong (5), Switzerland (2) and France (1).

The Home Office has announced that they will be making reforms to the Innovator route as part of the new points-based immigration system. It is expected that it will include an ambitious investment route that will effectively support the UK economy.

At present, the Home Office will be announcing the statement of changes that includes the new Global Business Mobility visa. It is expected that this route will offer a wide range of business-friendly visa route.

We will continue to monitor the development very closely and will ensure that our clients are kept up to date.

For any questions on Private Immigration to the UK or if you would to find out regarding your eligibility for UK visa routes, please contact our Immigration Advisor, Shareena Rahman on [email protected] or +44(0)207 822 2222.

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

The Scale-Up Visa – A real solution or a nice idea on paper?

The Scale-Up visa was announced on October 27, 2021 by Rishi Sunak MP who is the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer as a part of his 2021 budget. This new visa category is supposedly going to help accelerate the UK business’s ability to attract highly skilled migrant workers in the post Brexit economy.

The main purpose of the Scale-Up visa (in theory) is that it should allow certain employers identified as Scale-Up Companies quicker access to skilled labour from overseas.

WHAT IS A SCALE-UP COMPANY?

A Scale-Up company is a company of high growth that has an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a 3-year period greater than 20% and have minimum 10 employees in its observation period.

Scale-Up visas and Skilled Worker visas are almost very similar and differ slightly from each other. Skilled Worker visa applicants need to be sponsored by a UK company that holds a licence approved by the Home Office before they can employ a migrant worker from overseas while a Scale-Up visa applicants proposed UK employer does not.

Both visas require a job offer from UK company but the salary requirement for Scale-Up visa is £33,000 whilst the minimum salary required for Skilled Worker visa is £26,000.

KEY ELEMENTS OF NEW VISA:

Following are the key elements of the Scale-Up visa:

  1. Applicant’s will need to prove their English proficiency.
  2. An applicant must have a job offer from a Scale-Up company with salary of at least £33,000 annually to be considered for this visa.
  3. Applicants of Scale-Up visa can extend their visa for a period of 5 years.
  4. After 5 years on the Scale-Up visa route applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and thereafter British citizenship.
  5. In the event that an applicant wants to switch employers while holding Scale-Up visa and the new employer is not a scale up company then the applicant can switch into another visa route such as the Skilled Worker visa.
WHAT’S NEXT?

Information published so far indicates that the visa is expected to be launched in 2022 apart from that the UK government hasn’t given a conclusive timeline of when it will be launched.

Subject to meeting specific requirements, further details regarding extension will be released in 2022. It will be interesting to see how the process for accepting that a company meets the ‘Scale-Up’ company definition will work in practice, as it is clearly envisaged that someone will have to make such a decision on behalf of the Home Office.

It remains to be seen whether the changes introduced at the start of 2021 to the Skilled Worker visa and the anticipated Scale-Up visa together will help to kick start the UK economy in 2022 and provide UK employers with access to the best possible talent allowing them to compete and attract the ‘brightest and the best’ to coin a much-loved government phrase.

For any questions on Business or Private Immigration to the UK or if you require assistance with your existing application, please contact Head of Business & Private Immigration at GSC Solicitors LLP Hateem Ali on [email protected] or +44(0)207 822 2209.

© 2022 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved.  GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.

 

 

Does Plan B mean that I cannot go into the office?

In an effort to tackle the large rise in Coronavirus cases, the government has recently implemented Plan B, which includes measures to try and reduce the spread of the virus.

In relation to those working in offices, the guidance states that “Office workers who can work from home should do so”. However, there are some exceptions to that recommendation. For example, when it is necessary to access certain equipment to allow a person to do their job.

The government has clearly taken into account the toll that working from home has had on certain individuals, as the guidance states that employers should consider whether working from home is appropriate for those “facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.”

What has not changed is an employer’s obligation to provide for a safe working environment, and employers should remember this if staff will be going into the office.

The law in this article is current as of 20 December 2021.

If you have any employment law queries, please do not hesitate to contact David Nathan at [email protected] or on 020 7822 2247.

© 2021 GSC Solicitors LLP. All rights reserved. GSC grants permission for the browsing of this material and for the printing of one copy per person for personal reference. GSC’s written permission must be obtained for any other use of this material. This publication has been prepared only as a guide to provide readers with general information on recent legal developments. It is not formal legal advice and should not be relied on for any purpose. You should not act or refrain from acting based on the information contained in this document without obtaining specific formal advice from suitably qualified advisors.