- 161% rise in sponsored full-time workers nationally in post-pandemic
Loch Associates Group, the leading Multi-Service Law and HR business has witnessed clients in the South East needing support with workplace immigration double this year, as companies are forced to look abroad due to regional recruitment challenges.
Loch Associates Group, which helps clients in all sectors successfully apply for sponsorship licences and migrant worker visas, noted a growing number of local business owners are now conscious of the need for overseas recruitment as access to local talent has declined.
Joe Milner, Partner and Solicitor Advocate of Loch Associates Group, said: “Whilst tensions rise in the UK Government around migrants and migrant workers, there is limited Government direction on how businesses can tackle the shortage in available staff here in the UK. Regardless of this, we anticipate continuing to see an increase in all sectors turning to migrant recruitment.”
There were 267,670 grants given for work visa applications in 2022 nationally —95% higher than in 2019, prior to the pandemic.1 Of this, sponsored full-time worker visas saw an increase of 161% within the same period and made up 62% of all visa applicants last year.
Milner warned that businesses are losing out due to visa limitations, with many companies being unprepared. “A lot of employers are not aware of the preparation time required before they can hire potential talent abroad. This has meant that overseas workers are being snapped up by businesses who already have their sponsorship licence – whilst those only just discovering the need for it are missing out. Once you have been awarded a sponsorship license, it remains in place for four years, enabling employers to manage their recruitment process abroad as and when required,” said Milner.
Businesses, which have relied on migrant workers, are experiencing difficulties securing new and experienced staff from outside the UK due to post-Brexit restrictions and are facing strong competition from companies based in London that can offer higher salaries and benefits.
Milner commented: “The application process needs to be started well in advance, if employers want to ensure they can guarantee long-term success with their recruitment.”
South East businesses applying for workplace immigration will find the process to be a front-loaded exercise. It can take anywhere between six to twelve weeks for a sponsorship licence to be approved, due to current government backlogs for immigration applications. This makes it vital for business owners to have a long-term strategy for whether migrant workers will be needed in the future and – if so – apply for their licence sooner rather than later.
Milner added: “Typically, when a business approaches us to help with their workplace immigration strategy, it is during the final round of their interview stage, when they are ready to make an offer – but this can often be a more difficult process than they might have envisioned. They will need to complete a sponsorship license application and obtain a skilled worker visa. Another factor is helping the individuals and potentially their families enter the UK as well.”