Since the beginning of 2021, there has been a new immigration system in place in the UK. For those of our clients who have been used to sponsoring only ICT (Intra Company Transfer) visas, there may have been no particular difference in experience. However, as a reminder, the key differences compared with the previous system are:
- New EU migrants wanting to come to work in the UK will now need to obtain a visa, in the same way as migrants from any other country;
- Tier 2 (General) was replaced with the Skilled Worker visa, which is available for a wider range of roles than previously was permitted, and with lower salary limits.
These changes have led to a significant increase in the number of organisations wanting to hold a Sponsor Licence, particularly those organisations that have previously needed to employ large numbers of EU migrants due to being unable to source sufficient staff from within the UK. As new EU migrants will need, for example, a Skilled Worker visa, this means organisations wishing to employ them will need to hold a Sponsor Licence. Similarly, those organisations that already hold a Licence to sponsor ICT migrants will need to apply to add the Skilled Worker tier to their existing Licence.
This has now led to very substantial demand being placed on the Home Office systems for Sponsor Licence applications. Recently, the Home Office indicated that they were receiving around 500 Sponsor Licence applications every week. This is leading to much slower processing times than were experienced previously - now it is expected that applications may take the full 8 weeks stated processing time, whereas previously waits of around 4 weeks were much more normal. In addition, although the Home Office does offer a priority service for Sponsor Licence applications, this is extremely limited in availability.
Currently, only 10 priority applications are accepted each day, and can only be requested by email. In practice, therefore, many organisations are finding that it is simply impossible to obtain the priority service and are having to wait the full 8 week processing time. The Home Office has indicated that they are keen to expand the number of priority slots, but there is no clear timescale for this and given the significant demand for applications it is to be expected that providing a priority service will not be considered as important as ensuring they can match the demand for the number of applications overall.
3CS regularly supports clients with either initial Sponsor Licence applications, or to apply to add further tiers, such as Skilled Worker, to existing Licences. We are pleased to have over a 99% success rate across the thousands of visa applications that we have submitted since 3CS was established.
For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.