Business and the future of immigration in 2021

Blogs 26 Nov 2020

FSB Senior Policy Manager Emelia Quist appeared on the Intelligence Squared podcast to discuss the impact of the new points based immigration system on the UK's businesses

Emelia Quist is a Senior Policy Manager at FSB. Emelia appeared on the Intelligence Squared podcast with Director of Border and Immigration Policy at the Home Office, Philippa Rouse, and Partner at Fragomen, Ian Robinson, to discuss the UK's new points-based immigration system and what it will mean for businesses and individuals.

Listen to the full podcast here, or read an excerpt below to learn more about the key changes and dates your small business needs to look out for.

How will this new system significantly impact recruitment plans for small businesses?

The new system will add a considerable amount of time and additional work for small business employers, so you will need to factor that into your recruitment plans and consider how long it will take to onboard someone and bring them in. This is to ensure you’re meeting all of the necessary criteria and checks that the Home Office has in place.

Why is it important for small businesses to spend time to focus on the new immigration system?

It’s very challenging right now for small business employers, but we know from our research at FSB that around 26% of our members employ at least one person who is an EU citizen. It’s important to know what to do to ensure those workers have EU settled status or pre-settled status. If you’re considering expanding your workforce in the future from the EU, make sure you know what steps to take.

What can small businesses expect over the next five years?

For most small businesses, the current immigration system can be quite complex, but many don’t recruit from outside of the EU so they’re used to freedom of movement and the simplification that it provides for recruitment. The changes are going to be substantial for small businesses who tend not to have a HR person within their business, so understanding all the upcoming rules will be down to the business owner themselves.

Unlike the settlement scheme, we know that the immigrations rules can be complex and difficult to grasp. Having easy to understand guidance from the Home Office will be essential. Most of the small businesses we know don’t currently have a sponsor licence, so getting to grips with the compliance approach is key. There are severe sanctions if you get things wrong, which is concerning for businesses if they feel they don’t have the right guidance.

What advice do you have for small businesses?

  1. If you have EU workers in your business already, ensure they’ve applied for settled status or pre-settled status.
  2. Make sure that you understand the criteria and how it may work for you.
  3. If you are considering taking on a sponsor licence, start that process now, and visit the government website for more information.
  4. For FSB members, we’re providing services to help you adjust to the new system.

For more information, see FSB’s report: A World of Talent: Building an immigration system that works for small businesses


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