The Home Office has recently set out a roadmap for a sponsorship system that will enable employers to have an overseas worker ready to start work in the UK faster than in any other G20 country. The Home Office is looking to streamline the process for companies and universities becoming sponsors, and for workers and students to obtain immigration permission for the UK.
Substantial changes had already been made to the Skilled Worker category in response to Brexit, which significantly reduced the length of the process to recruit a worker from overseas eg by removing the resident labour market test.
The Home Office is now planning a series of changes to further overhaul the sponsorship system.
The next set of changes include:
- a review of the documentation required for a sponsor licence application (with the intent of making it easier for a company to register as a sponsor);
- the establishment of a service that supports small and micro businesses (the Home Office currently provides individual support to sponsors, but at a fee of £25,000 per year);
- a review of the fees the sponsorship system entails (the Home Office has acknowledged the current fees disproportionately affect smaller sponsors);
- the introduction of an enhanced Skilled Worker eligibility checking tool; and
- piloting a new salary check feature with HMRC to check employees are being paid the amount a sponsor has confirmed.
The Home Office’s digitalisation plans (Digitalisation of the Immigration System (gryklaw.com)) will also serve the sponsorship system, allowing for automated checks and more knowledge sharing between the Home Office and HMRC. This automatic data sharing will in turn be used to further monitor compliance among sponsors.
One of the most welcome changes will be the updating of the Sponsor Management System, which has not changed since it’s introduction in 2008, though we will have to wait until the end of 2022 at the earliest for this.
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