UNITED KINGDOM: Government Publishes Points-Based Immigration System Sponsorship Roadmap

August 27, 2021

The Home Office has released The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System Sponsorship Roadmap, which promises to deliver “radical changes to the sponsorship process, making it easier for users to understand and navigate, and substantially reducing the time it takes to bring someone to the UK”.

The roadmap outlines plans for reforms beginning in 2021 that aim to allow overseas workers to start work faster than in any other G20 country.

The roadmap also outlines plans for the sponsorship system that, by 2024, will:

  • Deliver faster end-to-end visa processing
  • Enable the reuse of information already held by the UK government
  • Be streamlined through the introduction of a “single online dashboard”, designed to make it easier for sponsors to understand the licence’s status and actions required

In terms of roll out it is understood that the immediate objectives will focus on the following;

  1. Reviewing how the documentary evidence required for becoming a licensed sponsor might be simplified in order to speed-up overall processing times
  2. Improving user experience of the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), reducing maintenance burdens and enhancing functionality and transparency through targeted support to small or micro companies
  3. Reviewing fairness of applicable fees and the provision of a visa eligibility tool for prospective sponsors
  4. Preventing system abuse through the introduction of a salary-check pilot from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

The Global Business Mobility route is also due to be introduced in the spring of 2022, for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in the UK or transfer staff to the UK. This is expected to incorporate revised versions of the existing Intra-Company and representative of an overseas business routes, as well as provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals, and new provisions for import/export secondments.

Further reforms over the next three years will include:

  • From spring 2022, the time it takes to apply for and be granted a sponsor licence will be reduced, especially for “straightforward, compliant applicants”
  • From summer 2022, there will be a functionality allowing a visa applicant’s information provided by sponsors for approval of their Certificate of Sponsorship to be transferred to their visa application, to save time and duplication
  • By the end of 2022, there will be enhanced SMS functionality for post-licence activities, such as easier addition of new users, greater visibility of the sponsored population, and the introduction of action-prompts
  • By early 2023, applying for a sponsor licence will be simplified by adopting automated checks on licence key personnel and the organisation
  • Licensing renewal patterns are to be reviewed and reformed
  • Improvements to the SMS will be introduced over a two-year period by trialling with targeted sponsors from the middle of 2023, prior to a more general roll out to all users in the first quarter of 2024

This next phase of reforms to the sponsor process and supporting technology will look to reflect the changing needs around work and travel, recognising a shared appetite from all stakeholders for simplicity and functionality.

Newland Chase will be monitoring these changes closely and will continue to update clients as further developments are announced.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.