The United Kingdom’s immigration overhaul, which began as a result of Brexit in January 2020, has so far included various initiatives meant to attract international talent to UK countries as well as encourage productive immigration to the UK generally (immigration which Brexit advocates argued was stymied by onerous immigration rules and procedures levied by the European Union). In keeping with this general goal, the UK recently announced the launch of a sponsorship roadmap, which is meant to enable UK businesses to become sponsors and attract global talent faster under the auspices of the new UK points based system. This blog will discuss the new sponsorship roadmap in the context of UK business and talent immigration in the year 2021.
- The UK sponsorship roadmap, which was announced this year, was launched with the goal to allow businesses to access skilled talent.
- Recently freed from the immigration restrictions levied by the European Union, the new UK points based system is grounded in a commitment to allow businesses to access skilled talent from abroad, via reforms to the sponsorship licence system.
- Prior to the current system, the UK shared a common visa and border policy with the EU, which forced all Member States to share the same visa and immigration policy. The UK’s desire to control its own borders and immigration system was one of the leading causes of Brexit (the UK movement to exit the EU), which was ultimately successful as a result of a UK referendum.
- Sponsorship—the process by which UK businesses and universities/schools assume financial or other “responsibility” for foreign immigrants (who come to the UK in order to study or work in the country) —i.e. “sponsor” said individuals—continues to be recognized as an essential vehicle for UK economic, social, and cultural growth. Therefore, despite recent UK changes to its immigration policy, the sponsorship system in the UK continues to endure as a critical element of growth.
- In order to enable UK businesses to become sponsors and attract global talent faster, the UK has committed to fully modernizing the sponsorship licence application system, which previously had paper components. One of the primary reforms has been modernizing the system so that it has now become entirely digital. The shift from a paper to digital sponsorship licence application system has resulted in quicker application assessment periods. Additionally, the government has moved to create a digital dashboard for sponsors, which is anticipated to increase engagement and reduce confusion on behalf of UK businesses who are looking to attract international talent to UK as well as the sponsored immigrants themselves.
- One of the main goals shared by the UK government and UK businesses is to increase the number of applications for the UK sponsorship licence and other UK visas. Preliminary research suggests that the country has experienced a significant uptick in applications for work and study visas this year (relative to 2020). This suggest that the new UK points-based system is effective in recruiting talent to the UK (in terms of UK business visa and UK student visa applications).
- The current UK sponsorship roadmap extends from the UK’s “Build Back Better” initiative, as part of a broader goal to encourage UK economic growth through immigration as well as domestic investments in the country’s basic development and financial community.
- If you would like to learn more about the new sponsorship roadmap, or if you are considering pursuing UK immigration and anticipate needing a sponsor, please contact us here.