Navigating Immigration and Employment Law Changes in the UK

If you’re an employer in the UK or an individual considering working in the country, it’s essential to stay informed about the latest updates in immigration and employment law. Recent announcements from the UK government have significant implications for both employers and visa applicants, and it’s crucial to understand these changes to make informed decisions.

Visa Application Fee Increases

The UK government has confirmed plans to implement substantial increases in visa application fees. While the exact effective date is yet to be confirmed, it is expected to take place in autumn 2023. These proposed changes are set to create additional financial burdens for employers recruiting individuals from overseas who require visas to work in the UK.

Here’s a breakdown of the key fee increases:

  1. Core government application fees for work and visitor visas are set to rise by 15%.
  2. Fees for Certificates of Sponsorship, indefinite leave to remain, all other leave to remain, entry clearance applications, and priority services will increase by 20%.
  3. The main rate of the Immigration Health Surcharge will see a substantial increase from £624 to £1035 per year. For students and those under 18, the discounted rate will increase from £470 to £776 per year.
  4. For instance, a Three-Year Skilled Worker visa application for a single applicant is estimated to exceed £7,000 under the new arrangements, reflecting a roughly 25% increase.

Impact on Employers

These changes undoubtedly present higher costs for employers seeking to recruit foreign talent. To mitigate the financial impact, employers should consider the following strategies:

  1. Review Recruitment Plans: Evaluate your recruitment plans and budget to ensure they align with the expected fee increases.
  2. Accelerate Applications: If feasible, consider bringing forward visa applications before the fee hikes come into effect to avoid paying higher rates.
  3. Maximise Visa Durations: For new hires applying before the increased fees take effect, consider maximising visa durations to minimise the potential for costly renewals in the future.

Penalty Increases for Illegal Working

In addition to the visa fee increases, the Home Office has announced significant raises in civil penalties for illegal working, anticipated to take effect in 2024. These increased penalties are designed to further discourage illegal working practices in the UK.

Here are the notable civil penalty increases:

  1. The penalty for a first breach will rise from a maximum of £15,000 per illegal worker to £45,000.
  2. The penalty for repeat breaches will increase from £20,000 per illegal worker to £60,000.

Ensuring Compliance

Employers must have robust processes in place to combat illegal working, in accordance with Home Office guidance. This includes conducting proper right-to-work checks for all employees, regardless of nationality. For those holding a Sponsorship Licence, there are enhanced compliance and reporting obligations that must be upheld to avoid penalties.

As solicitors based in Birmingham, we are well-equipped to assist with all immigration and employment law matters. If you require guidance or support navigating these changes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced legal team. Stay informed, stay compliant, and make informed decisions in this evolving legal landscape.

For expert legal advice and assistance, contact Aman Solicitors today. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of immigration and employment law in the UK.