Immigration updates

Had enough of trying to keep up to date with the fast-paced changes in the world of UK immigration?

We highlight below the main process changes the Home Office have implemented that could affect your business and/or workers.

Sponsor licence inspections

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Home Office had postponed all sponsorship compliance auditing. The Home Office have confirmed that it will start to resume compliance visiting activities. This will involve the Home Office complying with Government guidelines, regarding social distancing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

We offer various support for sponsors who wish to prepare for a Home Office inspection.

Processing times for a sponsor licence application

Prior to the pandemic, the Home Office timeframe for deciding a sponsor licence application was within eight weeks.

The Home Office have now started processing sponsor licence applications within 10 working days and on some occasions, we have seen decisions given by the Home Office within 2-3 days from submission.

We work with various sized companies and regularly assist and advice companies on obtaining a sponsor licence.

Sponsor licence renewal applications

Once a licence is granted it is usually valid for four years and prior to the expiry date a renewal licence application must be made in order to continue sponsoring migrant workers.

The Home Office are now requesting sponsors renew licences as early as four months prior to the expiry of the licence. The Home Office suspect that there will be an influx of sponsor licence applications towards the end of this year, as companies prepare for the ‘new immigration system’, which comes into force from 1 January 2021.

Identity Verification (IDV) App

Now that visa centres in the UK have started to reopen, we are seeing that there is limited appointment availability for applicants to submit biometric data in order to have applications processed.

In order to process more applications, the Home Office have introduced the IDV App. This allows eligible applicants to reuse previously submitted biometric data to process current applications, without the need to attend an appointment. The App will allow applicants to submit a ‘selfie’ photo to the Home Office so that the application can be processed.

Grace period

Many sponsored workers and other migrants have had their visas extended to 31 July 2020 but have still been unable to leave the UK. The Home Office have now given them a ‘grace period’ up until 31 August 2020 to leave the UK.

The Home Office have confirmed there is a concession for visa holders whose leave expires after 1 September 2020. These visa holders are able to make an application if there is an urgent need. The Home Office gives starting a new job or a new course of study and the inability to leave the UK as examples of urgent circumstances. However, it seems from correspondence with the Home Office about this concession that they are interpreting it quite narrowly at the moment, so it is important to seek advice before relying on the concession.

Please note that this article does not constitute advice. For advice on any of the above issues or immigration advice generally please contact Talitha Degwa, Spencer West LLP Immigration and Global Mobility Partner, at