On 26 August 2021, the Home Office published guidance for the immigration points-based system to streamline the process for employers and educational institutions to assist them sponsoring immigrants to the United Kingdom.
Much will depend on what the outcomes are and will certainly have a considerable impact.
Herewith are the main points:
- review the supporting evidence sponsors must provide when making an application for a sponsor licence – given the technical issues sponsors and immigration lawyers encounter when submitting applications for sponsor licences, this hopefully is to be welcomed
- research into providing a service to support small business – the Sponsor Helpline and Business Helpdesk can assist, but can be problematic for more complex queries, so this could be a step in the right direction
- review of the fees to ensure fairness – considering the application fee for a sponsor licence and skilled worker levy charge and the associated visa costs, this can be burdensome on smaller businesses. A more equitable fee structure may encourage more businesses to sponsor workers, particularly given the present economic challenges
- providing a Skilled Worker Eligibility tool (2021) – given the complexity of working out whether a proposed salary meets one of the bands for the Skilled Worker visa, this would be good – and has certainly proved challenging to work out, even for these immigration lawyers! The question is whether such a tool will perform the necessary calculation for points to be awarded when considering salary, working hours, discounts for shortage occupation type roles and higher-level degrees = yes please!
- piloting a check with the HMRC to see whether employees are being paid the correct salary – this is perhaps contentious as it raises privacy issues. It will depend on the parameters, but would potentially provide the Home Office with a powerful information system – will this just be deployed when the caseworker is considering an application? Can it be used at any time during a Skilled Workers leave? In either case it will enable them to accurately check salaries are being paid according to what the employer stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship. It looks like the immigration sector will not be able to provide a defence here.
This will be aimed at making the UK a ‘global player’ in helping the UK attract talent through technology:
- commitment to a faster process for sponsors to recruit workers
- make it simpler to sponsor new workers through use of existing information – this raises flags for obvious reasons
- improving the useability of existing systems through use of a single dashboard for sponsors to both understand the status of their licence and actions to take.
The Home Office plans are evidently advanced, and changes are coming for sponsor licence holders - some to be welcomed, but we will just have to wait and see.
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