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Navigating the changing immigration landscape in the UK

In the UK, the impact of Brexit, COVID-19 and the resulting ‘great resignation’ movement on the labour market has been substantial. Indeed there have been significantly increased volumes of immigration applications, such as local new hire applications, given the current trend amongst sponsored skilled non UK nationals, who are increasingly exploring alternative career paths and new roles in the UK.

With cross-border travel resuming, the nature of the moves has also become more complex given the additional COVID-19 requirements.

Lyudmyla Davies

The challenges for UK business

UK businesses are facing a number of challenges when managing their immigration programmes, including:

  1. Increased immigration costs. The Home Office fee for the one year work visa is close to £2,000 for a non UK employee.
  2. Increased pressure on internal immigration teams. Given the high volume of applications and queries from businesses and candidates, there has been increased pressure placed on immigration teams. This has been exacerbated by the increasing complexity of international moves and remote working requests.
  3. Staying compliant in a constantly changing UK/European immigration landscape. There have been many changes to the UK immigration requirements this year - with further changes to be introduced next year. Whilst many of these are positive for UK businesses, it is becoming ever more challenging for sponsoring companies to stay abreast of immigration policy changes in order to ensure that policies and processes are promptly and appropriately flexed and adapted.

Industry insights: best practices

Companies that are successfully managing their immigration programmes have invested time in planning immigration strategies, which allows them to proactively navigate the new and evolving immigration landscape. Please click on the following sections below to discover more:

1. Clear and consistent immigration policies

It is important to ensure that the immigration programmes have documented policies that are consistent in terms of the level of support provided to the employees and their alignment with the companies’ employment policies. The policies would not only be required as part of the Home Office compliance audit but also ensure the company’s commitment to immigration compliance and treating all their employees fairly.

2. Use of technology

Increasingly companies utilise technology to bring cost efficiencies whilst maintaining compliance. Innovative technology solutions allow companies to employ their talent to best suit the needs of the candidate and business. Technology can assist with analysing immigration options for remote working and enhancing compliance within the business by raising awareness of the risks whilst providing alternative immigration routes to mitigate these.

3. Strong governance model

Whilst every organisation is different in terms of their immigration needs, global mobility professionals ought to ensure that they have a strong governance framework in place supported by senior business stakeholders. This will assist in driving the culture of compliance within the organisation protecting against reputational risk and penalties to both employees and the business.

4. Upskilling and regular communication

As immigration rules and requirements continuously evolve, having regular training sessions to upskill HR, talent acquisition teams, recruiters and relevant business stakeholders is central to ensuring that employee and business expectations are adequately managed from the outset and any interruptions are minimised. Regular communication (such as virtual webcasts or lunch and learn sessions) to the impacted population also fosters increased compliance and creates a better experience for employees.

5. Working together

Given the competing priorities companies are currently facing, such as the current ‘war for talent’, commitments to minimise CO2 emissions, the need for global mobility professionals to work together with other areas of the business has never been more important. For example, global mobility professionals should ensure close partnership with the internal talent acquisitions teams, company’s ESG leadership and HR business partners to create a coherent company strategy for deploying and welcoming talented candidates to the business.

Summary

With considerable demands on recruitment in the UK, global mobility professionals have a very important role to play in attracting and retaining the best talent within organisations. This month’s COP26 further highlights the need for the immigration policies to be fully aligned with the company’s ESG commitments whilst ensuring an enhanced experience and fair treatment for all employees.

Whilst there is no prescribed format for the company’s immigration policies, there are some key considerations such as the employer’s duties and financial support for dependents, to name a couple, that should be included in policy making.

Our dedicated UK immigration advisory team assists clients with developing tailored governance models, creating immigration policies and upskilling business stakeholders on all aspects of UK immigration. Please reach out to me if you would like to find out more.

Contact us

Lyudmyla Davies

Lyudmyla Davies

Director, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7803 456020

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