A quick round-up of recent immigration law developments.
Changes to the submission process for pre-licence priority service requests
The Home Office has changed the process for submitting pre-licence priority service requests. The pre-licence priority service, which costs an additional £500 and is open to sponsors fulfilling eligibility requirements and reduces the processing time for sponsor licence applications to 10 working days, from the standard eight weeks. The pre-licence priority service request is now incorporated into the online form used to apply for a sponsor licence and the sponsor licence application fee and priority fee can be paid for at the same time. Alternatively, the prospective sponsor can request and pay for the priority service after submitting their application (if it is not yet under consideration) by accessing their sponsor licence application account and paying the priority service fee.
Home Office announces £10 fee for Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, which is a digital permission to travel similar to the US ESTA scheme, will cost £10 per applicant. It will be required by all non-visa nationals (those who do not require a visa to visit the UK) coming to the UK for up to six months as a visitor, including transit visitors and some creative workers.
The ETA scheme will launch for Qatari nationals from 25 October 2023 and for nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia from 1 February 2024. By the end of 2024, the scheme will be a requirement worldwide.
Number of Home Office-approved sponsor employers published
Data has been released showing the number of Home Office-approved employer sponsors, according to visa route. As of 13 June 2023, the numbers are as follows:
- Skilled Worker sponsors account for the majority of employers (79.16%).
- Approximately 11.72% of sponsors have a Global Business Mobility-Senior or Specialist Worker licence.
- The other 13 work routes account for the remaining 9.12%.
MAC intends to publish its shortage occupation list review in autumn 2023
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has confirmed, through an update to its guidance webpage, that it intends to publish its report reviewing the shortage occupation list in autumn 2023. This is later than the anticipated date of June 2023, as stated in previous press releases.
MAC launches inquiry into the Seasonal Worker visa
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has launched a call for evidence to explore the effectiveness of the Seasonal Worker Visa for employers and employees. It is seeking views on the following:
- the economic impact of the visa
- how well it works for employers
- how well it protects the welfare of migrants
- how it’s organised
- anything that could be improved
The closing date for responses is 19 September 2023.
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