ONS Q4 Visa

ONS Q4 Visa

On March 13, 2021 | In General | By A Y & J Solicitors

The number of visas granted to people wishing to visit the UK and to work and study here in 2020 dropped by 69%, according to a new Office for National Statistics figures.

There were just under one million visas granted throughout the year, of which 51 percent were for visitors, 23 percent were for students and 13 percent were for work reasons.

The figures give the first indication of the effect the pandemic has had on migration and show a sharp decline in the number of foreign workers coming to the UK. Indeed the 125,176 work-related visas granted last year represent a 35% drop year-on-year.

The ONS reports that the main reason for the decline in work-related visas was a 63 percent drop in the number of Tier 2 – Intra-company transfer visas (down 31,988 to 19,178). These visas allow employees of international organisations to transfer to entities in the UK to work and relate to long term staff and graduate trainees. While the decline is largely due to the pandemic, it does follow a pattern that had started to emerge in 2019. 

Visa expert Yash Dubal, director or A Y & J Solicitors said: “The drop in visa numbers is expected given the restrictions on international travel. Many businesses in the UK closed down for the duration of the lockdowns and employees have been encouraged to work from home so it no surprise that international work-related movement has slowed.”

He predicts a surge in visa applications from summer 2021 into 2022.

He explained. “According to the statistics there were 32 percent fewer skilled work visas granted in 2020. This represents pent up demand. Many businesses, particularly in the IT and service sectors, have survived the pandemic intact and, in some cases, have benefited from it but have been unable to expand because of restrictions in movement. In my consultancy we have seen a five-fold increase in inquiries from both businesses and people overseas who want to apply for UK visas.”

The number of Tier 2 – General visas for skilled workers also fell (by 17 percent), but due to the larger decline in Intra-company transfer visas is now the largest skilled worker route into the UK for the first time.

The final quarter of 2020 also saw a 40 percent decrease in the number of Tier 1 – Investor visas granted, with the majority going to nationals from China and Hong Kong.  This visa route, designed to attract wealthy migrants with over £2m to invest in the UK, had a higher than normal refusal rate in the three-month period with 12 refusals, half of which from potential investors from India.

Mr Dubal continued: “As applications continue to rise, the higher than normal refusal rate illustrated in the figures for Investor visas shows the importance of getting the right visa advice.”

There is already evidence that the flow of international workers will pick up as the pandemic subsides. The ONS data shows that, in the final quarter of 2020, the overall number of Work visa applications was 21% higher than the same period in 2019, largely due to the increase in applications for Turkish ECAA Businessperson visas.  

Indeed, the statistics also provide a glimpse into the potential make up of post-Brexit migration. The top five nationalities granted Skilled Work visas were India, Philippines, United States, Nigeria and Egypt respectively. 

Other declines were recorded in Tier 5 (temporary work) visas (down 39%), Youth mobility and temporary workers (down 48%) and Domestic workers in private households (down 70%). The number of Tier 5 – Seasonal Worker visas tripled however, up by 4,743 to 7,236 due to an increase in quotas. Almost 90 percent of seasonal workers granted these visas were Ukrainian.

The number of visas granted to people wishing to visit the UK and to work and study here in 2020 dropped by 69%, according to a new Office for National Statistics figures.

There were just under one million visas granted throughout the year, of which 51 percent were for visitors, 23 percent were for students and 13 percent were for work reasons.

The figures give the first indication of the effect the pandemic has had on migration and show a sharp decline in the number of foreign workers coming to the UK. Indeed the 125,176 work-related visas granted last year represent a 35% drop year-on-year.

The ONS reports that the main reason for the decline in work-related visas was a 63 percent drop in the number of Tier 2 – Intra-company transfer visas (down 31,988 to 19,178). These visas allow employees of international organisations to transfer to entities in the UK to work and relate to long term staff and graduate trainees. While the decline is largely due to the pandemic, it does follow a pattern that had started to emerge in 2019. 

Visa expert Yash Dubal, director or A Y & J Solicitors said: “The drop in visa numbers is expected given the restrictions on international travel. Many businesses in the UK closed down for the duration of the lockdowns and employees have been encouraged to work from home so it no surprise that international work-related movement has slowed.”

He predicts a surge in visa applications from summer 2021 into 2022.

He explained. “According to the statistics there were 32 percent fewer skilled work visas granted in 2020. This represents pent up demand. Many businesses, particularly in the IT and service sectors, have survived the pandemic intact and, in some cases, have benefited from it but have been unable to expand because of restrictions in movement. In my consultancy we have seen a five-fold increase in inquiries from both businesses and people overseas who want to apply for UK visas.”

The number of Tier 2 – General visas for skilled workers also fell (by 17 percent), but due to the larger decline in Intra-company transfer visas is now the largest skilled worker route into the UK for the first time.

The final quarter of 2020 also saw a 40 percent decrease in the number of Tier 1 – Investor visas granted, with the majority going to nationals from China and Hong Kong.  This visa route, designed to attract wealthy migrants with over £2m to invest in the UK, had a higher than normal refusal rate in the three-month period with 12 refusals, half of which from potential investors from India.

Mr Dubal continued: “As applications continue to rise, the higher than normal refusal rate illustrated in the figures for Investor visas shows the importance of getting the right visa advice.”

There is already evidence that the flow of international workers will pick up as the pandemic subsides. The ONS data shows that, in the final quarter of 2020, the overall number of Work visa applications was 21% higher than the same period in 2019, largely due to the increase in applications for Turkish ECAA Businessperson visas.  

Indeed, the statistics also provide a glimpse into the potential make up of post-Brexit migration. The top five nationalities granted Skilled Work visas were India, Philippines, United States, Nigeria and Egypt respectively. 

Other declines were recorded in Tier 5 (temporary work) visas (down 39%), Youth mobility and temporary workers (down 48%) and Domestic workers in private households (down 70%). The number of Tier 5 – Seasonal Worker visas tripled however, up by 4,743 to 7,236 due to an increase in quotas. Almost 90 percent of seasonal workers granted these visas were Ukrainian.

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