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Immigration News : Another New Plan for Immigration

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On the 24 May 2021 the Home Office published a document entitled  ‘New plan for immigration: legal migration and border control strategy statement’. Your first thought maybe ‘Another one…’

Over the next four years the Home Office promises ‘transformational change’ and a vision for the border and immigration system beyond 2022. Immigration solicitors are busily digesting the near 40-page document whilst grimacing at the thought of having to explain to UK employers that, if Brexit and the end of free movement wasn’t enough change for their HR departments, further changes to both business immigration and individual immigration are planned to ensure that UK businesses have access to talent from across the world to ‘Build Back Better’ following the Covid-19 global pandemic.

We know that Priti Patel isn’t the biggest fan of UK immigration solicitors and the job we do but we do hope that she will spare a thought for the fact that we have spent the last few years advising UK businesses on the impact of closing free movement and access to talented and skilled EU workers, only now to be looking forward to advising businesses and individuals on how the UK is opening up to the world.

In this article we look at the headline changes planned to the UK immigration system referred to in the latest policy paper because, as businesses know from Brexit and the end of free movement , it is best to plan early for change as that way you can try to make the new immigration rules work to your advantage.

UK Immigration Solicitors

London based OTS Solicitors are immigration law experts. For immigration advice call 0203 959 9123 or complete the online enquiry form. Appointments are available by phone call or video call.

Business immigration and work visas

We aren’t sure that the Home Office intended to make us giggle but the 24 May 2021 policy paper promises ‘user friendly and accessible’ immigration rules. As expert business immigration lawyers we work with many highly intelligent HR executives and savvy business owners who so far haven’t been impressed by the Home Office’s attempts to simplify the immigration rules by the publishing of separate appendixes for each work visa route. The immigration rules themselves remain as complex as ever.

For UK businesses the headline news from the policy paper is:

  • A work visa where an employee does not require a sponsoring employer. This has previously been announced as the ‘elite visa’. It is due to open in Spring 2022 but immigration solicitors advise UK business owners not to delay applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor workers under the skilled worker visa route as it is highly unlikely that many UK employers will be able to meet all their overseas recruitment needs through employing EU or non-EEA nationals on the elite visa given its eligibility criteria. The clue is in the name ’elite’.
  • A global business mobility route. For ‘global business mobility’ think of rebranding and renaming of some of the existing work visa routes such as the intra company transfer visa or the sole representative visa.
  • Many business owners have expressed frustration with the end of free movementand the financial impact of needing a sponsor licence to sponsor non-EEA nationals as well as EU citizens who don’t qualify for settled status  under the EU Settlement Scheme . The policy paper promises the expansion of the Chip Checker service and the introduction of HMRC and Companies House automated checks to provide pay roll and company information to fast track sponsor licences. (Immigration solicitors are excited and a little bemused by the thought of how adding HMRC to the sponsor licence application process is likely to simplify or fast track the process for HR directors but we hope to be proved wrong).

Individual immigration

On the individual immigration front, in a speech delivered on the 24 May 2021, the Home Secretary Priti Patel talked about needing to fix the ‘broken immigration system’ through a variety of new individual immigration measures, such as:

  • Reforms to British citizenship to enable the Home Office to grant British citizenship in cases of historic unfairness and where British citizenship applicants can't easily evidence their entitlement to British citizenship for reasons outside their control. For the Home Secretary to grant British citizenship in this type of situation there would need to be compelling and exceptional circumstances. ( Read this as referring to the Windrush generations or similar ‘no fault’ situations).
  • Assistance to asylum seekers with a view to enabling asylum seekers to be more self-sufficient and offered support to integrate into the UK whilst their asylum applications are processed by the Home Office. ( In Priti Patel’s words asylum seekers should be able ‘not just to survive but to thrive’. Didn’t Meghan Markle make a similar comment about UK princesses?).
  • Electronic travel authorisation or in Priti Patel’s words ‘a system to count people in and out’ so it is easier for the Home Office to identify threats to the UK and make targeted interventions. The electronic travel authorisation scheme is being promoted as a USA style system (that seems quite apt to immigration solicitors as the points-based immigration system launched in January 2021 was heavily promoted as the Australian system).The plan  is that all non-UK and Irish citizens will need a visa or electronic travel authorisation to gain UK entry clearance. The target date for this to be implemented is said to be 2024.
  • Digital checking of settled status of EU nationals entering the UK by Home Office officials to avoid confusion arising over evidence of settled status. This is due to be put in place by summer 2021.
  • The family visa routes will be simplified with a commitment to more consistent evidence requirements in different types of family visa applications.

Watch this space

Whether you are a UK business navigating immigration rules on sponsoring employees, an entrepreneur looking to set up a business in the UK or an individual desperate for a spouse visa or a refugee seeking asylum status, the message from UK immigration solicitors is the same. It is a case of watch this space for more news on the government‘s planned changes to the UK immigration system as one thing is certain; further change is on its way.

UK Immigration Solicitors

If you are a UK business or individual needing UK immigration law advice OTS Solicitors have the experts to help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete the online enquiry form. Appointments are available by phone call or video call.

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