Business Immigration: What's new in June 2022?

This month there hasn't been such a flurry of activity as in recent months. We have chosen to cover the continued impact the war is having on visa processing times for applications made outside of the UK, the details of the first three certified identity service providers for digital right to work checks and the call for evidence on the UK labour market following Brexit and the pandemic.

Visa processing delays

The UK Home Office has updated its visa processing guidance to confirm that applications under the Skilled Worker and Standard Visitor visa route are currently taking 6 weeks to process, rather than the usual 3 weeks. Student visa applications are less delayed, taking on average 4 weeks to process, rather than the usual 3 weeks.

With priority and super priority visa services temporarily suspended for those applying from outside of the UK, businesses need to factor in these processing delays and plan applications as far as possible ahead of proposed start dates. It is likely that there may be further processing delays before this begins to improve. At the time of writing, priority and super priority services are still available for applications made inside the UK – however, this may be subject to change.

First certified identity service providers announced – digital right to work checks

From 6 April 2022, businesses have been able to use identity service providers ("IDSPs") to complete digital right to work checks for British and Irish nationals, however, until earlier this month, the government had not published the details of any certified IDSPs. At the time of writing, three organisations have been granted certification (1) Yoti and Post Office Easy ID, (2) HooYu Limited and (3) TrustID Limited but it is expected that this list will continue to be updated as more IDSPs are certified. The certified published list and can be found here

While the right to work guidance does not require businesses to use a certified IDSPs, we recommend that businesses use those on the government's approved list, for better protection. After all, businesses will remain liable for a civil penalty if the right to work check is not carried out properly by an IDSP.

Businesses can continue to use the Covid-19 temporary adjusted right to work checks until 30 September 2022, however, we recommend that if businesses are looking to use IDSPs, they start to make enquiries over the summer to understand each certified IDSPs terms, including process, pricing, and data protection. Businesses need to be thinking ahead so that they can be sure they have engaged the right ISDP and are ready to use them by 30 September 2022, at the latest. 

Call for evidence on UK labour market following Brexit and COVID-19

As part of its Post-Pandemic Economic Growth inquiry, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee have put out a call for evidence to help MPs examine the challenges faced by businesses and workers, and to understand what the government and companies can do to support the labour market in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

The Committee is seeking views on a number of areas including:

  • The impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on recruitment, skills shortages and growth of the labour market.
  • The use of artificial intelligence and technology in the workplace.
  • Improvements in employment rights.
  • Modern working practices.
  • The impact of an ageing population on the labour market.

The backdrop to the call for evidence is that ONS figures from February to April 2022 showed there were more job vacancies than people available to fill the roles. The Chair of the BEIS Committee commented that recovery from the pandemic is made "more difficult by the effects of an aging population and changes in migration".

Since January 2021, we have had a notable increase in enquiries from businesses struggling to recruit and opting to apply for a sponsorship licence to open themselves up to the worldwide talent pool. If you are considering employing overseas nationals and would like further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Business can submit their responses to the BEIS Committee's call for evidence by 8 July 2022 here. Please note that evidence submitted is not confidential and if published, will be available as part of the public record indefinitely.

If you have any questions on any of the above developments or have general business immigration queries, please do get in contact with Gemma Robinson or Laura Coombs.