8 September 2021
UK sponsorship reforms in 2022 and beyond
By Nida Qadir and Sofia Liu, Legal Interns
Due to the various changes in the immigration system over the last couple of years, the UK government has recently released the sponsorship system roadmap to assist firms and others regarding the criteria they need to meet when entering the UK via this route.
The government stated that sponsorship of workers and students is going to be a key part of opening the UK up to the world, and will be the leading element of the new UK points-based system in order to allow a way for foreign nationals to live and work in the UK.
These sponsorship requirements would need to be met on the majority, if not all work-based visas. These include changes such as paying licenses fees and meeting salary requirements, while also meeting the good character requirement, which is already part of the criteria for other settlement visas in the UK.
The aim of all these changes would be to ensure that the system in order to bring someone to the UK is more streamlined, easier to understand and be simplified such as removing the labour market test which was one of the previous criteria where companies had to demonstrate a need for the hired worker, as a result of this removal this would give more opportunities to potential employees and the employer due to having to spend less time identifying this.
Other changes include suspending the cap on skilled workers whereas previously employers could only hire a certain number of employees, compared to now these changes have been introduced but also making sure that people do not abuse the system by introducing new salary checking and making sure correct documents are provided.
The Sponsorship Roadmap
There are a range of technological and system reforms planned from 2022. A faster and more straightforward system will be delivered by these reforms, which will reduce the administrative burden on sponsors. This will enable the UK to be the global leader in helping sponsors quickly and effectively access people overseas to start work and study in the UK.
In Q1 of 2024, the reforms will mean that the sponsorship system will benefit from the following:
- A faster end-to-end process will be delivered for sponsors and the employed workers to reduce the time it takes to recruit people overseas
- Re-using information the government already holds where possible to make it simpler for sponsoring new workers
- To make it easier for sponsors to understand the status of their sponsorship licence and the actions they need to take, the accessibility and usability of the systems will be improved with a single online dashboard.
Improvements for customers
By Spring 2022, improvements with the customer journey will be delivered. This means that there will be a faster end-to-end customer journey, and the time between sponsor licence application and approved application will be reduced. Furthermore, the priority service offer has been bolstered, doubling the cap for post-licence priority service requests from 30 to 60 per day. Moreover, the licensing renewal patterns for sponsored employment routes will be reformed to simplify the system for users.
The build of a new sponsorship IT system is a core element of the sponsorship transformation plans. The new IT system will be made into three initial delivery packages, each of which will be rolled out to a minimal set of users at first. The chosen users will cover a cross-section of businesses. This includes SMEs and larger employers and organisations that are active enough to use the developments in this new service. The purpose of this is to let some real users test and learn before increasing the volume of users. It may take around 2 years to the full rollout.
Relevant checks on all potential sponsors will be made to ensure the safety of those coming to the UK for work. From the point sponsors apply to be a sponsor and throughout the period they hold a licence, compliance visits may be subjected. During these visits, key protections for workers will be monitored, such as the maximum 48-hour working week and the right amount of salary.
Sponsorship transformation will extend to students and their sponsors. How to make the best changes to the sponsorship of students will be further discussed with the sector.
The Global Business Mobility route
In Spring 2022, the new Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence here or transfer staff to the UK will be launched under the existing sponsorship system. Improvements in this will be in line with the broader sponsorship covered in this post. As a result, it will be easier for overseas businesses to assign and manage workers coming to the UK under the Global Business Mobility route.
A comprehensive sponsorship engagement strategy will be delivered to inform the design and delivery of the new system. This strategy will ensure that qualitative customer feedback is included in policy and design analysis on the sponsorship system. Furthermore, customer feedback is included on both the high-level design of the sponsorship system and on the technical design of the IT transformation.
Several key stakeholders will be for external engagement, such as businesses, SMEs, the education sector, and advisory groups.
In conclusion, the hope is that the new system will allow more people to be sponsored in the UK to cover any shortages in the workplace and allowing these people to integrate and help the UK economy. We will continue to keep our clients up to date with the latest news from Home Office.
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