We take a look at the latest news affecting UK sponsoring businesses.

The UK is transitioning to a fully digital immigration system, phasing out physical documents by the end of 2024. This means no more Biometric Residence Cards, Biometric Residence Permits, passport endorsements or visa stickers. Starting in 2025, immigration status will be recorded electronically and accessible through an online UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account linked to travel documents.

Key actions for employers:

  1. Set up UKVI accounts: Ensure employees with Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) set up their UKVI accounts before BRPs expire on 31 December 2024.
  2. Complete IDV App and eVisa process: Encourage timely completion to avoid disruptions.
  3. Right to Work checks: Use the new digital share code system to verify immigration status for any new employees.

This change simplifies status verification but requires timely action to ensure compliance and smooth transitions for your international workforce.

Read more: What you need to know about the UK's new eVisa

Essential BRP information and latest UK immigration changes

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Tories propose annual cap on work visas

As the elections near, the Tories are proposing a bold plan to set an annual cap on work and family visas as part of their campaign promises. If they win the next general election, this "immigration lock" will become law, compelling the government to decide each year how many people can move to the UK for work or family reasons.

Why does this matter? Last year, net migration soared to a record-breaking 764,000. The Tories argue that controlling these numbers is essential for easing pressure on public services and infrastructure. But what does this mean for your business?

If you rely on international talent, it’s time to start planning. This proposed cap could mean fewer visas, making it more competitive to attract the best global talent. To stay ahead, you might need to get creative with your recruitment strategies.

EU Settlement Scheme changes

The Home Office has announced updates to the EU Settlement Scheme to make it easier for those with pre-settled status to prove rights and provide clarity for employers and landlords who need to verify immigration status. The changes include:

  • Extending the duration of pre-settled status from two to five years.
  • Removing the pre-settled status expiry date from digital profiles viewed by third parties through online checking services for Right to Work, Right to Rent and View and Prove.
  • Eliminating the need for employers, landlords and letting agents to conduct additional Right to Work or Right to Rent checks for individuals who remain in their current employment or tenancy agreement.

Graduate visa to remain

On 23 May 2024, the Government accepted the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s recommendation to keep the Graduate Route largely unchanged. Instead of eliminating the Graduate Visa route, the Government has introduced new proposals, which include:

  • Implementing regulations to address issues with rogue recruitment agents, requiring universities to comply.
  • Enforcing stricter compliance standards for institutions recruiting international students.
  • Increasing financial maintenance requirements for students.
  • Reviewing and standardising English language assessments through independent evaluations.
  • Restricting remote learning to ensure most international students attend face-to-face courses.

Read more: UK Graduate visa to stay (for now)

We help individuals and businesses navigate all aspects of UK immigration and can assist with ongoing employee immigration management. Contact us at +44 (0) 20 7759 5307 or email workpermits@sableinternational.com.

We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.