In this episode of the Help with my visa! Podcast we talk to Ian Robinson about recent changes to the UK’s visa and immigration system, including the new Points-based System and Skilled Worker visa.

Ian is a Partner at global immigration law firm Fragomen and a former UK Home Office civil servant.

On the podcast, Ian gives us his expert opinion on how you should approach immigration to the UK as both an individual and employer, with four excellent pieces of guidance on how to cut through what is, at times, a fairly complicated immigration system.

DISCLAIMER: while Ian has provided his thoughts, professional opinions and guidance on the new UK visa and immigration system, none of the content he covers should be treated as legal advice. You should always refer to the law or speak to an immigration expert if you have any queries about a visa application.

Ian Robinson, Partner at Fragomen

Speaking to us just as the UK’s new Points-based System for visas and immigration launched at the beginning of December 2020, in this podcast Ian covers how Fragomen helps visa applicants, employers, educational institutions and other stakeholders successfully navigate the UK’s complex and ever changing immigration landscape.

 Working for the world’s largest immigration law firm, Ian tells us that his role at Fragomen is to “make what’s known about [immigration] policy, practical.” This means talking to people in lots of different roles who are touched by immigration, such as the visa applicant, employers, educational institutions, government and the media, to name but a few, and being able to propose the best solutions for a given situation.

New Points-based System for Visas and Immigration

This holistic approach has been super-relevant as the UK introduced a new Points-based System for visas and immigration, and the launch of the new Skilled Worker visa.

Ian believes that officials have done a good job building on the Tier 2 points-based visa regime introduced by the Labour Government in 2008, as it now makes the visa application process a lot quicker for many people coming to the UK to work from overseas

Obviously the new Points-based System isn’t as simple as Free Movement under EU regulations, but the system does now apply equally to everyone from outside the UK and Ireland. And as employers no longer need to first advertise roles in UK or EU markets before looking further afield, appointing a new hire on a Skilled Worker visa can take a little as 3-4 weeks, as opposed to 3-4 months previously.

UK Employer Sponsor Licences

UK employers looking to hire skilled workers under the new Points-based System will need a Home Office Sponsor Licence, which they’ll need to apply for in advance and that can take up to 8 weeks to come through. Ian says the Home Office appears to have the capacity to manage any sponsor licence application queues that may form, but he recommends applying early so at least you’re at the “front of the queue”.

Once employers have a Sponsor Licence, they can hire skilled workers from overseas, provided the worker meets the Skilled Worker visa eligibility criteria. Being paid enough for the role and being able to speak English are two of the major eligibility criteria that Ian mentions.

How Much Does a UK Work Visa Cost?

Ian gives us several examples of what UK visas can cost – and they aren’t cheap.

Employers have their own set of costs to apply for the Sponsor Licence, Certificate of Sponsorship to sponsor a visa and the Immigration Skills Charge. These vary depending upon the size of your organisation and the length of time you employ someone on a visa you sponsor but are typically several thousand pounds to get started, then at least a further £1,000 per year.

For the visa applicant, Ian says in his experience most employers also cover the visa fees of the people they hire, and they usually also cover the Immigration Health Surcharge as well. When a 5-year Skilled Worker visa for one person can cost £5,700 in government fees alone – and almost £27,000 for a family of three – being clear on who is picking up the costs for your visa is super-important.

What Type of UK Visa is Best for Me?

The UK has dozens of different visa types, but Ian recommends that you don’t feel overwhelmed.

In the podcast, Ian goes through four things you should do when planning your UK visa application to make sure you apply for the most appropriate option for you. 

These include making use of the EU Settlement Scheme if you can, checking your eligibility for UK Ancestry or Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visas or seeing if you can qualify for another type of self-sponsored visa. You also now have the Skilled Worker visa option available to you as well if you can get a job offer from a Sponsor Licence holder.

Ian goes into much more detail on the podcast, which you can watch on our YouTube channel or listen to an audio version on our Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts and Spotify channels. Don’t forget to like, rate and subscribe so that you’re notified when the next episode goes live.

If you’d like to know more about the UK’s new Points-based System for visa and immigration, how to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, how to make a Sponsor Licence application or speak to an immigration professional about your UK visa options, click on one of the links below to find out more.

Your Complete Guide to the UK Skilled Worker Visa

Everything you need to know... and how to apply

New UK Points-based System

A detailed guide to the new visa system

UK Visa Consultations

Speak to an immigration professional and get your visa questions answered

Sponsor Licences for Employers

A detailed guide containing 5 simple steps on how to apply
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