Thursday, December 6, 2007


Graeme Kirk
Gross & Co.

2008 will see the biggest changes in the UK immigration law for over 30 years.

The most important change will be the way in which UK-based employers can employ foreign non-EEA citizens in future. With effect from the third quarter of 2008, UK employers will only be able to employ foreign non-EEA nationals if they have obtained a Licence to issue sponsorship certificates from the British Government. Applications for such Licences, which will be valid for a period of 4 years, can be made from early 2008. At this stage, no information has been provided as to the cost of the Licences.

A Licence will give a UK employer authority to issue sponsorship certificates to prospective foreign employees, up to a limit. The foreign national will then be able to apply to a British Embassy or Consulate for entry clearance on the basis of the issuing of the sponsorship certificate. Time will tell how simple or complex this procedure turns out to be.

Many UK immigration lawyers are extremely worried as to the potential effect of these changes upon UK employers, particularly those who only apply for Work Permits on a relatively rare basis. Concerns are also expressed as to the likely increase in timescales for arranging the transfer of staff as a result of the changes. The current Work Permit scheme has by and large worked extremely efficiently over the past few years.

Further information will be provided on the blog as it becomes available.