On 3 March 2016, Vikki Wiberg, Charlie Pring and Sean Nesbitt from our Mobility Team hosted a breakfast seminar to consider key UK immigration and HR issues when employing international talent. This is particularly relevant in light of the upcoming changes to the UK’s Point Based System which will be rolled out from 6 April 2016. For those readers who were not able to attend some of the key points arising from the seminar are as follows:

  1. When employing international talent in the UK, or transferring international talent to the UK from overseas offices, it is important to consider the impact of visa timing within the secondment timetable and factor that in. This may, for example, delay the transfer by some weeks or months and must be arranged pre transfer.
  2. We recommend you take tax advice as part of your transfer planning as, depending on the nationality of the individual being transferred, this is likely to influence whether you second the staff member to the UK or hire them on local terms.
  3. When preparing the transfer documentation we recommend you consider and document prior to the transfer the planned arrangements for the end point of the transfer. This will include, for example, the relocation arrangements as well as ensuring that confidential information generated by the individual is held by the appropriate group company and that enforceable and reasonable restrictive covenants are in place to protect both the UK and overseas companies.
  4. We are noticing an increasing number of Home Office audits to UK based companies. As part of these audits the visiting officers are checking, amongst other things, that employed staff have the legal right to work in the UK. Ensuring that your right to work documentation has been compliantly recorded and maintained is crucial. (See here).
  5. The Home Office will be rolling out changes to the Points Based System in the next few weeks. These include:
    1. Increases to fees on 18 March 2016.
    2. Changes to Tier 2 from 6 April including, amongst other things, an increase in the prior service required for ICT visa applicants from 1 year to 2 years and the roll out of the Home Office’s £200 per year Immigration Health Service surcharge to ICT applicants and to Australian and New Zealand nationals (who are currently exempt).
    3. Additional changes to Tier 2 from October 2016 which are likely to include, amongst other things, the introduction of a £1,000 per annum skills levy to employers who sponsor a Tier 2 visa applicant and re-categorising of switches of Tier 4 visa holders to Tier 2 General visas from the current unrestricted visa category to the restricted visa category (which will in turn remove this category’s current exemptions from the annual restricted category visa cap as well as requiring the roles to be advertised before a visa is applied for).
  6. We recommend that, if you are planning to transfer international talent to the UK during 2016 you consider expediting transfers to fall before 6 October.