Business Immigration Quarterly Update: September 2022

In our latest quarterly immigration update Freeths' immigration team bring you information about improvements to the sponsor management system for the sponsors of Skilled Workers and brings you up to speed with the Ukrainian schemes.

Sponsorship reforms 2022

Most immigration practitioners will tell you that the technology used in the sponsor management system, which was originally implemented in 2008, is clunky and in desperate need of updating. The sponsor management system is the platform used by UK businesses to manage their immigration licence and to sponsor overseas workers. It seems the Home Office agrees that an update is long overdue. According to their sponsorship roadmap, some improvements to the online management system are intended to be implemented before the end of 2022. The Home Office state that these changes to the platform will allow sponsors to make changes to their licence more easily and to enable the Home Office to use data more efficiently enabling automatic checks against data held by departments such as HMRC and Companies House.The Home Office does not have a great track record in delivering new projects effectively and within their proposed time scale. Improvements which were expected by mid-2022 are yet to be implemented. These were expected to create a more streamlined process by linking the sponsor management system and candidate facing visa application processes. This has not yet been delivered.The Home Office anticipate full roll out by Q1 2024. The longer-term changes are intended to deliver a faster end to end process for sponsors at the initial licencing stage, and with the day to day management of a licence, thereby reducing the overall burden on sponsors.

Further Sponsorship Reforms:

  • The Home Office have published their Skilled Worker Eligibility Checker. This online tool can be used by workers and sponsors alike to check whether the proposed role is eligible under the Skilled Worker route.
  • The Home Office intend to implement an IT package which will streamline the application process for existing sponsors who wish to sponsor a worker. The technology will allow a sponsor to invite the worker to make their visa application, whilst pre-populating the worker's visa application with role information from the sponsor. This is meant to allow for sponsor and worker data to be aligned which will make Home Office case working more efficient.
  • For business who do not currently hold a licence, new technology due to roll out in early 2023 will allow the sponsor application process to be streamlined with the use of automated data checks.

Shortage Occupation List

The government have commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review the shortage occupation list. The last time MAC reviewed the list was in 2020. At the time, MAC had made several additions to the shortage occupation list which the government rejected save for those in the health and care sector. In February 2022 the government added Care Workers to the list. The government said that at the time it “was not right to make such widescale changes while the Skilled Worker visa route was still bedding in and the state of the labour market emerging from COVID-19 restrictions was highly uncertain. Since then, the labour market picture has become clearer. We now consider the time is right to review shortages at these levels against the latest available evidence.” The report is expected to be published in Spring 2023.

Ukrainian nationals

In response to Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine, the UK opened a number of schemes to allow Ukrainian nationals to come to the UK. These schemes include the Ukrainian Family Scheme, the Ukrainian Extension Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.As of 6 September 2022, a total of 182,900 applicants have been given permission to live in the UK under the schemes. Up to June 2022, 61% of these individuals are aged 18-65.Those with permission under the Ukrainian Family and Homes for Ukraine Schemes are allowed to enter the UK labour market and work without restriction. Those with permission under the Ukraine Extension Scheme are allowed to work in line with the conditions of that route.The government have published guidance aimed at businesses who wish to offer employment to Ukrainian nationals. The guidance confirms that employers can complete and submit a Vacancy Information Questionnaire. The employer will be contacted by the National Employer and Partnership Team in the DWP to discuss the role. The job offer will then be shared across DWP Jobcentre Plus network and the Refugee Employment Network.The Home Office has published separate right to work guidance aimed at Ukrainian nationals in the UK under the Schemes. This guidance should be read in conjunction with standard right to work guidance. Employers should check current right to work guidance before the commencement of employment of any new employee.

If you have any questions in relation to the above, or have general queries in relation to UK immigration, please do reach out to our National Immigration Team for further assistance.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.