We know how complex and difficult it is to navigate the UK immigration rules and procedures, not only for the applicants but also for the immigration practitioners. On top of their complexity the rules are also constantly changing. We publish our blogs to address the updates and important immigration topics.
In July 2022, the Home Office published ‘New Plan for Immigration: legal migration and border control strategy’ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-plan-for-immigration-legal-migration-and-border-control-strategy. This relatively recent publication document builds on the ‘New Plan for Immigration: Legal Migration and Border Strategy’ which was published in May 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/new-plan-for-immigration-legal-migration-and-border-control
The idea behind the recently published ‘New Plan’ is to set out the Home Office vision for transforming the legal migration and borders system and how to achieve this. The key aim is to enhance the immigration and border system by streamlining processes through technology, to provide greater efficiency.
Simplification of the immigration laws and processes
Home Office promises to simplify the Immigration Rules and implement the recommendations of the Law Commission to cut through complexity and make the Rules clear, consistent and accessible. They aim is to ensure the users can navigate the immigration system easily, get what they need and understand how to comply with the rules.
Home Office vision for the immigration rules and system
The vision is to have a streamlined, digital system which responds to customer needs and enhances the security of the UK. More streamlined and seamless digital application processes, including innovative identity capture and verification, to improve the customer experience. A transformed sponsorship system to speed up the process for customers and sponsors.
Travelling to the UK
Planned introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme, enabling more upstream security checks to prevent more harmful people getting to the UK border in the first place.
Roll out of eVisas – digital immigration status information accessed via an intuitive, user-friendly online system or system to system services.
Crossing the UK border
The Home Office plan is to use innovative technology increasing automation for everyone travelling to the UK across all modes of transport, proof of concepts in place to test full “contactless travel” options. Using what they already know about people to inform flow and interventions at the border, better informed “counting in and counting out”.
In 2022 and 2023, this will include extending re-use of biometric data already held by the Home Office to more routes, so that applicants will not need to provide their fingerprints again.
Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) and vignettes phased out
The digital approach will result in physical evidence of immigration status, in the form of vignettes and Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)/Cards, gradually being phased out by December 2024. This is also why the BRPs have the expiry dates by end of December 2024.
To ensure visa holders with historic and paper-based evidence of their immigration status can take advantage of the benefits digital status brings, Home Office at some point will provide guidance on how to register for a digital customer account and convert to an eVisa. Home Office is planning further communications activity aimed at this group to advise them what they need to do, by when.
Sponsor licence applications and processing time
According to the Home Office published information, Sponsor licences are currently being processed within the service standards and additional reforms between now and 2025 will further reduce the time it takes a sponsor to hire a worker from overseas.
In August 2021 Home Office published our Sponsorship Roadmap https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-sponsorship-roadmap which set out the package of reforms to the sponsorship system up to 2024. The Home Office has now stated that the full transformed sponsorship system for employers remains the same, however, it will now be in place by 2025, subject to user feedback and the success of the testing outlined in the table below.
This transformation will hopefully result in a system that is faster and simpler, with a reduced administrative burden on sponsors.
Permission to travel to the UK
To further strengthen the UK border Home Office is introducing Permission to Travel scheme in 2023. Everyone wishing to travel to the UK will need permission in advance of travel. This will increase Home Office knowledge about those seeking to come to the UK and prevent the arrival of those who present a threat. Instead of turning people away at the border or detaining them at a cost to the taxpayer, this approach will allow Home Office to stop people travelling to the UK in the first place.
Carrier integration – travel to the UK
To support carriers with permission to travel, Home Office is developing a single, integrated approach to security, immigration, and health (if applicable) pre-departure checks, based on their existing Advance Passenger Information (API) systems.
Carriers will receive a single message from the Home Office confirming whether an individual has permission to travel when they submit API data. This will help carriers discharge their statutory obligations under the UK ‘carriers’ liability’ scheme, to ensure passengers are properly documented for travel to the UK without the need to check additional immigration documents. This scheme will be amended to reflect the introduction of ETAs and the wider permission to travel requirements.
What will the future UK border look and feel like?
According to Home Office, by 2025 the UK border will look very different. Once Home Office have undertaken proof of concepts and pilots for optimising greater automation, including rolling out ETA and increased provision and functionality of eGates, it will transform the border operating model.
Home Office vision is to transform the UK Border, making visible changes to security, flow and passenger experience by enabling automated entry to the UK for most passengers across all modes of transport at all ports. We are looking forward to the new immigration system with simpler and more user friendly immigration rules and more streamlined processes.