What do the upcoming changes to the Home Office Sponsorship System mean to me as an Employer?

Since the introduction of the new UK points-based system back in December 2020, the Home Office has been introducing changes to the sponsorship system that can speed up operations for both employers and the Home Office.

The Home Office has so far:

  • Removed the Resident Labour Market Test;
  • Suspended the cap on Skilled Workers;
  • Made the sponsor licence application process paperless;
  • Introduced pre-licence priority service which speeds up application processes for businesses; and
  • Introduced Chip Checker which enables holders of certain biometric passports to prove their identity from their own home or workplace.

These changes have significantly reduced the length of process to recruit an overseas worker by up to 8 weeks and have so far been proven popular as there was an increase of 9% on the register of work sponsors compared with last calendar year.

Moreover, the Home Office has recently published a Roadmap for the upcoming changes that will be implemented in 2021 and 2022, and here is an overview of the upcoming changes.

By Q4 of 2021, new changes will be introduced to reduce the burden on the sponsor to maintain their licence by introducing an enhanced Skilled Worker eligibility checking tool. This makes it easier for employers and workers to understand if a particular job is eligible under the Skilled Worker route. They will also introduce a new salary check pilot with HMRC to make sure employees are being paid accordingly. By Spring 2022, improvements will be delivered to ensure that the time it takes to obtain a sponsor licence (from application to approval) will be significantly reduced.

To reduce the processing time of applications even more for sponsorship licences and Skilled Worker visa, a brand-new sponsorship IT system will be introduced in 2023. By Q1 of 2024,  the IT system will be fully rolled out. The new system comes with features such as automated checks with HMRC and Companies House will reduce the burden on employers in providing paperwork. For prospective employees, this will greatly reduce the time and difficulty of visa application, as application forms will already be pre-filled with the employer’s information. This means that employers like you will take less time to get a sponsor licence.

Besides sponsorship of workers, in Spring 2022, the Home Office will launch the new Global Business Mobility route, allowing overseas businesses to establish a presence here or to transfer staff to the UK. The changes mentioned above will also make the process a lot easier for overseas businesses.

There are also plans for changes to sponsoring students. The Home Office are working with education providers to explore ways on how to deliver reforms that will benefit users. More details will be provided by the Home Office soon.

The upcoming changes will make the sponsorship system more digital, simplified and modern. This certainly has given users and stakeholders more confidence in the sponsorship system as the Home Office continue to seek ways to improve and streamline the process for users.

Should you require assistance with obtaining sponsorship license or sponsorship of migrant workers, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team.

Please note that requirements may vary from case to case based on the nuances of your situation, and the information on this page is not intended to replace legal advice.