Visa bottleneck stops employers using foreign talent

Businesses
trying to plug skills gaps with foreign talent are being forced to wait as long
as three months before their new employees can start work because the Home
Office cannot handle the visa workload.

Organisations
have been unable to hire workers already living in the UK
because there are not enough staff to handle the volume of applications at the
Home Office’s Work Permits UK division, reports the Financial Times.

Delays
began in April when the Home Office altered the application procedures for its
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) programme, which provides work permits for
foreign workers hired by companies in the UK.

Instead
of a single application, taking a few days, the Home Office split the process
so that both the employer and the employee needed to gain separate approval
before the employee can start a new job. The new procedure was applied to
tighten checks on foreign workers.

However,
people who applied in July are still waiting for the applications to be
processed, according to the most recent government update.

Ben
Sheldrick, a partner at Magrath, the law firm that
handles non-UK employee visa applications for investment bank Merrill Lynch,
told the FT: "Things have gone to pot."

The
Home Office’s “incompetence” was particularly disappointing because the scheme
had great potential to erase skills shortages through immigration, Sheldrick said.

The
Home Office said it had four teams, with about 20 people in each, handling
applications for the ILR programme. It said the department hoped to have a
fifth team "shortly", but could not give a date when this would
happen.

By Daniel Thomas

 

 

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