As you may have seen in the news, the UK and India have launched a migration partnership for young professionals aimed at making it easier for them to live and work in both countries. The two countries will cooperate on removing unauthorised migrants in the UK in exchange for visas for temporary migration to the UK. The Young Professionals Scheme will allow up to 3,000 Indians aged between 18 and 30 with at least three years’ higher education to live and work in the UK for up to two years without requiring sponsorship. At the end of that period, those who are already in employment, or have a promise of employment and who meet UK immigration requirements, will be allowed to continue to live in the UK to carry out their professional activity. In return, UK nationals will be able to take advantage of the same rules in India. It is the first such agreement with a country where visas are normally required to visit the UK. It also covers immigration rules for students, skilled workers and academics and, overall, it looks like a great route for UK employers to utilise. So, let’s hear more about it. Louisa Cole is an immigration specialist and she joined me by video-link to discuss it:
Louisa Cole: “Yes, so last week, the UK Government and the Indian government signed a new Memorandum of Understanding which will basically allow young professionals aged 18 to 30 from India, and from the UK to go to India, to come and work in the UK for a period of up to two years, 24 months, when they're just starting out in their career. It’s a great opportunity, if those individuals meet the requirements which are to have undertaken a course in higher education for at least three years, to come and get some work experience in the UK, to meet new employers and to undertake, I suppose, some professional work experience without having the pressure of securing sponsorship or a role which requires them to meet the usual requirements of the immigration system., so things like skill and salary levels which are obviously quite challenging for young professionals to meet just starting out in their career. So, we don't have a date that the scheme is going to be introduced yet but I imagine it will be at some point this year and it's a great scheme that will work in harmony with the graduate recruitment route which was recently also introduced by the UK Government that is coming into effect from 1 July 2021. So, both routes used in combination with each other will be great schemes for UK employers to utilise, to onboard skilled talent and attract skilled talent from overseas into the UK without employers needing to really invest in, you know, the costs of sponsorship for young individuals that are going to be a challenge to recruit into the more difficult Points Based System routes such as the Skilled Worker Route or the Intra-Company Transfer Route.”
Joe Glavina: “So which sectors in particular do you think this new route will benefit most”
Louisa Cole: “So, this is going to be of particular use to sectors such as the information technology sector who usually recruit quite large numbers of skilled individuals into the UK and often face challenges in terms of meeting salary requirements. Also, it will be useful for the infrastructure sector and the financial services sector as well. So, we think all of those sectors, and clients in those sectors, will find these new routes of particular interest and want to really be familiarising themselves with the requirements of those routes so that they can make the most of them once they introduced.”
Joe Glavina: “Can I ask you about why this is happening right now, and the costs involved?
Louisa Cole: “So, the intention of the schemes is obviously to encourage young skilled talent and the best and brightest talent to the UK and that's one of the government's objectives under the new immigration system. Obviously, we know that's incredibly challenging with the routes that are currently available under the Points Based System and I think this new Memorandum of Understanding, and the graduate route, are sort of new routes that the government intends to assist employers in the UK in filling skill shortages that are perhaps filled by the challenges of the Points Based System and also Brexit. So, you know, the intention is that they are not expensive, so they wouldn't be expensive for either party. We are unsure about the costs associated yet with the new route agreed with India but we imagine that they will be low in terms of that route. It will probably involve individuals having to show at the point of application that they can satisfy a certain level of maintenance once they arrive in the UK, similar to the kind of costs associated with, for example, the Tier 5 government authorised exchange route at the moment but that hasn't been revealed yet. Similarly, with the graduate route, the costs we imagined will be relatively low as a result of the route being for young professionals starting out in their career that are probably on the lower end of the pay scale and just looking to get some good work experience for businesses in the UK, so we think the routes will be fairly accessible. Obviously, the number of individuals that can come over under the new route agreed with India are capped at 3,000 individuals per year at the moment, so relatively low number, but I understand that that is going to be revisited depending on how the route goes and the take up etcetera by individuals and UK businesses.”
Joe Glavina: “Has this come out of the blue? The UK/India Trade Deal was in the news a couple of weeks ago, but no mention of this.”
Louisa Cole: “So, I didn't see much in relation to it prior to its announcement last week. There was a bit of noise online in relation to the fact that the UK was in talks with the Indian government and, indeed, for some time the government has been looking to introduce additional routes to encourage highly skills young talent come to the UK and it certainly remains one of their priorities. As I mentioned, it is definitely a challenge of the new immigration system. The Points Based System can be particularly challenging for those starting out in their careers because of the difficulties with satisfying the relatively high salary threshold requirements and, in some instances, the skill threshold requirements. So, we know that it is something the government is looking to prioritise and encourage. So, I think it's relatively in line with their overall broader objectives under the new immigration system, and it will certainly complement the graduate scheme that is being introduced in in the summer from 1 July 2021. We don't know the date it's going to come into effect yet but we hope that will be in the in the coming few months. So, yes it fits in with the sort of broader objectives of the UK government and, hopefully, it will really assist young professionals starting out in their careers, and also employers looking to recruit young professionals starting out in their careers and really grow and expand that UK businesses.”
Finally, some news you may have missed. You may remember that the UK’s right to work checks concessions were due to end in the middle of May. We flagged that in our programme ‘UK right to work check concessions end on 16 May’. As we highlighted in that programme there was a lot of criticism of that May deadline because the country would still be under lockdown, albeit the last phase of the lockdown, and a number of parties were lobbying the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to delay it further. Well it seems she has listened. She has moved the date to the end of the next, and hopefully last, lockdown phase which is 20 June. So that is the new date. We have updated our previous article on that – it is now called ‘UK right to work check concessions to end next month’. You can find that on the Outlaw website.