Business Immigration Update August 2021: What employers need to know

Blog | Business Immigration
Published: 5th September 2021
Area: Business Immigration

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Remote Right to Work checks to continue until 5 April 2022

The Home Office has confirmed that the end of the temporary COVID-adjusted right to work measures that was due to end on 31 August 2021 has been extended to 5 April 2022. This means employers can continue to conduct remote checks to support their employees in the new world of remote working. This will allow the UK government some time to review their revised plans to be implemented from 6 April 2022 onwards. They have indicated they intend to adopt a new, more secure, long-term digital service for remote right to work checks, which will also include a provision for both UK and Irish nationals.

The Home Office announced earlier in the year that employers will not have to carry out retrospective checks once the COVID-19 adjustments end for all checks done between 30 March 2020 and 5 April 2022 inclusive.

Government plans for new sponsorship system for workers and students

With the end of free movement between the UK and the European Union, employers have experienced an entire revamp of the UK immigration system that was launched at the beginning of 2021. Such changes as new immigration categories have been introduced, a makeover of the points based system impacting skilled workers and students and changes to the visa application process, which some may say, has been triggered by the global pandemic.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Home Office has published its 12 page sponsorship roadmap, which promises to deliver ‘radical changes to the sponsorship process, making it easier for users to understand and navigate, and substantially reducing the time it takes to bring someone to the UK’.

Their main objectives will focus on:

We also expect continued changes to be implemented to the current system between now and early 2022, to include review of government fees, the introduction of a skilled worker eligibility tool and the launch of a pilot salary checking tool in conjunction with HMRC. Watch this space!

Quicker processing times, from applying for a sponsor licence to a worker being approved their visa to start or continue their employment;

Improving employer’s experience of using the sponsorship system to reduce the burden on them to maintain their licence and providing the functionality and transparency they have much desired for years; and

Preventing abuse of the system with effective management of information risk.

Sponsor licence priority service

Since Brexit, the number of UK-based employers applying for a licence to sponsor non-UK workers has increased significantly, and even more so over the last few months since the Brexit “grace period” for EU nationals ended on 30 June 2021. It currently takes the UKVI up to eight weeks to process a sponsor licence application so to keep up with the demand, they introduced a pre-licence priority service at the end of 2020, costing employers an additional £500 for their application to be expedited from eight weeks to two weeks. So far so good, so where is the catch? While this is a positive initiative for faster processing for businesses that need to recruit fast, it is not entirely clear how the priority service is allocated. It is limited in numbers with a maximum of ten applications per day available on a first come first serviced and if applications are not accepted they fall into the normal processing standards without any communication to employers and with a £500 price tag, many businesses will simply not afford it. It remains to be seen whether this ‘service’ has any future at all, particularly with its current offering.

Shakespeare Martineau's business immigration team can help you to secure a sponsor licence for your business so that you can employ skilled foreign workers from outside of the UK and continue to operate post-Brexit.

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Tijen works with global UK businesses advising on strategic international recruitment and supports with immigration compliance facilitating assignments and relocation.

The EU Settlement Scheme which was introduced two years ago now allowing EEA nationals and their family members to register their rights to live and work in the UK post-Brexit will close on 30 June 2021. What will this mean for UK employers?

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