UK Visas and Immigration publishes new plan for immigration and border control

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In May 2021, the Government announced a new plan for their immigration processes, including new routes of entry, changes to the application and sponsorship process and introduction of an electronic border.

New/updated routes of entry

The routes of entry announced are as follows:

  • Unsponsored ‘points-based’ route – this is aimed at the ‘high skilled and academically elite’ who wish to enter and work in the UK. This route will allow those who are ‘scaled up’ to be granted a fast-track visa and will not need sponsorship
  • Innovator route – the Government has confirmed they are ‘exploring how we can adapt the endorsing bodies model’ to attract businesses with ‘high growth potential to the UK’
  • International Sportsperson – this route will provide more flexibility with length of stay and will replace the T2 and T5 sport routes
  • Global Business Mobility route – this route will incorporate a number of existing routes, such as:
    • Intra-Company routes
    • ‘Arrangements for implementing the UK’s trade commitments in respect of contractual service suppliers and independent professionals’
    • ‘Arrangements for employees of an overseas business assigned to the UK to establish a branch or subsidiary” (Representative of an Overseas Business route, currently an unsponsored route). The Home Office state that “existing rules which restrict the route to a single representative per sending business will be relaxed depending on, for example, the size of the investment in the UK’
    • ‘New provision to accommodate import and export-related secondments to, for example, better accommodate scenarios in which an overseas business has contracted with a UK business for the supply of goods and needs to second workers to the supplier for the purposes of product development or familiarisation’ (the closest relevant route is currently Visitor).

Application process

The Home Office has confirmed the following changes to the application process:

  • The intention is to move towards a fully digital application process for EEA nationals. For non-EEA nationals, they will follow the same process once they have provided their fingerprint biometrics (in a visa application centre) on their first application
  • There are plans for the ChipChecker service to be available on more applications so the identity stage can be dealt with online
  • The majority of applications can be done online for the Graduate route, as the Government has confirmed they will reuse the biometric fingerprint data from their student applications. Applicants will be able to use the ChipChecker for their identity requirements and rely on their Biometric Residence Permit.
  • A Biometric Residence Permit will be issued to visa nationals to travel to the UK. Non-visa nationals will not be required to hold this permit to travel. Both visa and non-visa nationals will be provided with access to the online service. This service includes evidence of their immigration status, proof of their right to work and enables access to NHS services
  • The application questions will be simplified on the Graduate, and International Sportsperson route and more flexibility will be applied to an applicant showing they meet the requirements for their route. The Government have provided an example of allowing applicants to rely on their GCSEs or A Levels/Scottish Highers to meet the English language requirement.

Sponsorship system

The Home Office have advised they will provide a roadmap, which will confirm the long-term plan for the sponsorship system. In the meantime, the Sponsorship system has been updated based on three objectives laid out as follows:

1. Speed up end-to-end processing by:

  • Expanding the use of ChipChecker for ID.

2. Reducing a sponsors burden to maintain their licence and improving the sponsor system by:

  • Provide support for small businesses
  • Reviewing the fees for those who use the sponsorship system
  • Providing a skilled worker eligibility tool to make it easier employers to establish if a role is available under this route.

3. Prevent abuse of the system by:

  • Introducing a salary check system to ensure employees are being paid what the employer promised.

Electronic border

The Home Office is rolling out ‘Border Crossing BX’ nationally. The new technology is designed to improve the quality of information for Border Force Officers and allow them to check an individual’s status under the EU Settlement Scheme at the primary control points. The Home Office plans to extend the BX technology to e-gates.

Contact our business immigration solicitors today

At Ashtons Legal, we support businesses with a range of immigration issues. For tailored advice for your business, please contact Jessica PiperRobert Hickford or Claire Sleep through this website or by calling 0330 404 0768.


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