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UK Visa applications delayed for COS

UK Visa applications delayed for COS
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The processing times for UK visas have markedly increased following comprehensive changes to UK immigration policies announced last December. Home office now Intensified Scrutiny of Visa Applications led to heightened scrutiny of both visa and visa sponsor applications.

Specifically observed delays in the processing times for Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker Visas, both during the employer’s application for the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and in the subsequent processing of Skilled Worker Visa applications. Thousands of care workers including Bangladeshi’s are stuck coming to Britain due to the COS issue.

The delays are especially concerning for people and companies that are in a hurry to complete paperwork before major increases in visa fees and new regulations that make hiring overseas more difficult take effect.

The approval process for “defined certificates of sponsorship” is where the delays are most severe. These are given out by employers to foreign employees as a requirement of applying for a skilled worker visa. An online application typically takes a day to get approved. According to insiders who spoke with Personnel Today, the procedure has been taking anything from one week to two months lately.

This is creating a headache for recruiters rushing to finalise their overseas recruitment needs ahead of a significant rise in the Immigration Health Surcharge, which most migrants must pay. The fee is due to go up from £624 per person to £1,035 (a rise of 66%). The increase was originally due to take effect on 16 January but has been delayed and will now come into force on 6 February.

The problem is compounded because businesses are also eager to beat the minimum salary increase announced in December last year. Currently, in order to meet the criteria to qualify for a general Skilled Worker visa most applicants must be paid a minimum of £26,200 a year (the threshold does not apply to health and care workers). In spring this year that figure is set to increase to £38,700, which is higher than the average salary for full-time employees.

Visa expert and director of visa and immigration law firm A Y & J Solicitors, Yash Dubal, said the delays were causing concern among clients.

“Given the changes that are coming down the line, many businesses that planned to recruit from overseas in 2024 are bringing those plans forward and are trying to get ahead of the restrictions and fee rises. The delays that we are now seeing are a real cause for concern,” he said.

Some immigration lawyers have suggested that the Home Office may be using the application process for defined Certificates of Sponsorship as a way of making further checks on migrants and the companies that employ them.

“The system used to be routine and hassle free,” said Dubal. “The Home Office now seems to be using it to check not only that the skill level and salary requirements are met, but also to do a preliminary assessment of ‘genuineness’, for example by asking for employment contracts and client contracts to show there is genuine work for the migrant to do.

He added: “There is a political imperative to reduce migration and crack down on businesses that cheat the system so this renewed level of scrutiny is not unexpected; however, genuine businesses who are eager to finalise their recruitment processes could end up paying more, or losing the staff they want to employ.”

Chetal Patel, head of immigration at Bates Wells, told Personnel Today she had also seen long delays: “We’ve seen many sponsors submitting urgent certificate of sponsorship allocation requests to support their recruitment needs for those already in the UK. However, securing one of the daily 60 priority change of circumstances service slots has become tricky because so many organisations are applying for it.

“The pressure on the system will only continue with the minimum Skilled Worker salary threshold due to be increased significantly in the spring.

“Businesses are carefully looking at their recruitment needs to consider ways in which they can offset some of the visa costs.”

Patel added that despite net immigration reaching record levels the goal of reducing levels of net migration “isn’t something that’s new, it’s long been part of our UK immigration system”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The prime minister has made clear current levels of migration to the UK are far too high. That is why the government announced a plan to cut the number of migrants coming to the UK and we are working to bring these changes in as soon as possible in a sensible and pragmatic way.

The spokesperson contradicted the evidence from businesses, saying that it had in fact cut processing times for sponsorship, stating: “Our sponsorship system is designed to be easy to use. We have introduced a number of measures to streamline processes for customers which have shaved an average of eight weeks from the process of employing an overseas worker.”

Mzaad
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Daily Dazzling Dawn is the first and only international and non-profitable newspaper, which is 100% ownership of professional journalists from Bangladeshi origin with 20 years of experience in global journalism. The main aim of the newspaper is promoting ethical journalism with truth, accuracy and proficiency.

Editor in Chief

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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