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K2 recently re-launched our Corporate Virtual Roundtables, a quarterly webinar series which invites a network of US-based global mobility professionals to participate in open discussion on a number of hot topics.

In our first roundtable of the year, K2’s Head of Global Immigration Services, David Snowling, and K2’s UK Immigration Leader, Sandra Toppin, were joined by Noah Klug from Klug Law Firm to explore immigration changes across the US, UK, and Singapore.

Summary of key points

US Immigration Updates

What is the H1-B Visa?

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant work visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers for specialty jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Benefits to using a H1-B Visa

  • Quick application process.
  • Applicant does not need to follow a petition.
  • Less costly than other visas available.

Considerations when applying for H1-B Visa

  • There is a cap applied on the number of visas which can be issued – this currently sits at 65,000 visas per fiscal year.
  • Eligibility requirements apply – an applicant must meet these to be considered for the visa.Have a job offer from a U.S. employer for a role that requires speciality knowledge.
  • Proof of a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in that field.
  • Your employer must show that there is a lack of qualified U.S. applicants for the role.

There are available options for countries to send foreign national employees who were not selected for the H1-B visa. Larger companies within countries such as the UK, Singapore and Australia will send employees to an office located outside of the US for a minimum of a year, so that they qualify for an L-1 Intercompany transferee visa. Countries with quick and easy visa processing systems and low costs are usually selected for the employee to live in.

UK Immigration

Ukraine Impact

We are experiencing delays in visa processing for the UK, due to the war in Ukraine and Covid, with the UK government struggling to catch up with visa applications in a post-pandemic war.

As a result, priority visa processing services in certain countries are not available, including:

  • Family applications – these previously took 6 weeks on the expedited service and 12 weeks on the standard service. Applications are now taking a minimum of 12 weeks.
  • Work visa (out of country, including skilled worker and global business mobility) – the super priority (1 day) and priority (5 day) services have now been reinstated. Dependant visas are processed on the 15 working day service.
  • Business visitor – the standard processing time is 3 weeks, but in some cases we are seeing that this has increased to 7 weeks+.

Russian Nationals

In addition to the normal delays to the application process, we are experiencing extreme delays in visa applications for Russian nationals (family, work and business visitor visas.)

  • Standard applications under normal circumstances would be approved within the standard 15 working day service, but we are currently experiencing delays of around 12 weeks.
  • Biometric application centres are open in Russia and are working as normal for new visa applications.
  • Currently, there are no flights from Russia directly to the UK and clients are having to take alternative routes (via Turkey, UAE ,or Brazil for example).

Right to work checks

In September 2022, the UK government removed the pandemic concession which enabled UK companies to conduct right to work checks virtually. All employers are obligated by UK law to complete these checks for all new hires and failure to do so could result in files or custodial sentences.

  • Despite the right to live and work in the UK, manual checks must still be completed for British and Irish nationals (including passport checks, birth certificate checks etc.)
  • Due to Brexit, EU nationals must apply for the EU settlement to stay in the UK – to receive this settlement, both online and manual checks must be completed by employers.
  • Once UK companies are a sponsor licence holder, they are obligated to carry out online and manual checks, subject to UK government audits. Failure to conduct checks and keep evidence on file can result in them losing their licence.
  • Other visa categories which will also require a biometric residence card and therefore undergo the same process as the sponsored employees are: ILR/ settlement, students, graduates, youth mobility and dependants.

Singapore Immigration

From September 1st, 2023, employment pass (EP) candidates in Singapore must pass a two-stage eligibility framework. In addition to meeting the qualifying salary, EP candidates must pass a points-based Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). Renewals will be subject to this from September 1st, 2024.

  • This enables employers to select high-quality foreign professionals, while improving workforce diversity and building a strong Singaporean core.
  • It is an easy, transparent system which gives businesses greater clarity and certainty for manpower planning.
  • COMPASS is one of the first points-based systems to appear in APAC. Unique in that the hiring company and number of foreign nationals within the business make up part of the point equation.
  • It is additional framework as does not replace the Fair Consideration Framework.

Stage 1 – Qualifying salary

  • Must pass the minimum salary based on age.
  • This minimum increases by age from 23 up until 45 and above.
  • Divided into financial services and all other sectors.
  • Yearly increase is expected to be the same each year but is not yet confirmed.

Stage 2 – Scoring system

  • This is a unique system to Singapore, with points scored on any criteria, meaning there is no mandatory criteria to score under.
  • 40 points are required as a minimum.
  • The system looks at salary, qualifications and the occupation of the candidate.
  • The system also looks at the diversity, number of local employees and government partnerships of the hiring company.

From K2’s end, we have a team of Immigration Specialists located in Singapore, who have welcomed this type of framework as it enables companies to better plan around manpower strategies. However, until implementation, we firmly recommend for companies operating in Singapore to make an impact assessment on existing employees to ensure changes can be made to hiring plans/ strategies to mitigate any negative impact.

A big thank you to those who attended our webinar, we hope you found the session valuable and engaging. If you are interested in participating in our next roundtable on the 11th May, or if there is a specific topic that you would like our panel of experts to discuss, please email us at

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