The Government has published its first statement setting out its vision for legal migration and border control as part of the new plan for immigration. This article summarises the key goals that form part of the vision.

The statement sets out key delivery priorities for 2021 – 22. These include:

  • EU Settlement Scheme – it references the ‘grace period' until 30 June 2021, during which time EU citizens who had arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020 may apply to the scheme. Border Force staff will have the ability from July 2021 to check whether an individual has applied for, or been granted status under the scheme should they need to do so.
  • Simplification – the statement pledges that the Government will continue to simplify the Immigration Rules and make them as ‘user-friendly and accessible as possible'. It is also promised that questions on application forms will be simplified and there will be further flexibility on how an applicant can evidence or provide they meet the required for their chosen route. The statement also reveals that in some cases, applicants will also have the ability to upload their evidence from home.
  • Sponsorship  – the statement sets out that the Government intends to deliver ‘a digital, simplified and modern sponsorship system' which will ensure a more effective operation for both users and the Home Office and encourage compliance. It promises to deliver a sponsorship system that will permit employers to have overseas workers equipped to start work quicker than any other G20 country. It details the following proposals:
    • Speeding up end-to-end processing from applying for the licence to the individual being approved for a visa through for example applicants applying for visas using a mobile device to scan their passport and to capture their facial image without the applicant needing to attend an appointment in person.
    • Improving a sponsor's experience of using the system, reducing the burden placed on them to maintain the licence through the introduction of automated checks with HMRC and Companies House to identify sponsors and users that can have fast track approval and by providing a dashboard that sponsors can use to manage their sponsored workers and see feedback on their visa applications.
    • Preventing abuse of the system by introducing trust ratings for sponsors based on their history of compliance. The statement emphasises that compliance is central to the approach to sponsorship.

The new roadmap detailing the above is due to be published this summer.

  • New and reformed immigration routes – the statement boasts the UK's goal to build a ‘truly Global Britain'. The statement emphasises the Global Talent, Innovator, and Global Business Mobility routes and also plans to introduce a new, unsponsored points-based route to attract talent to the UK. The focus will primarily be on the very high skilled and academically elite. There are also plans to deliver a new Graduate route into the UK, launching in summer 2021 and also a new International Sportsperson route, date to be confirmed.
  • Delivering a fully digital system – the final section of the statement sets out that further improvements to the online immigration status service will be considered but provides no further detail at this stage.

The statement goes further and sets out the vision for the border and immigration system beyond 2022. Part of this includes a phased programme in 2025 which will see the introduction of a universal ‘permission to travel' requirement requiring anyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) to seek permission in advance of travel.

The full statement can be accessed here: New Plan for Immigration: Legal Migration and Border Control

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.