UK immigration to introduce "fast track" for Tier 2 visa sponsors

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The UK Border Agency is set to announce new policies to make it quicker for British employers to hire migrant workers under the Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa system by paying a substantial additional fee to the government.

UK Immigration plans to introduce a new "fast track" migrant worker scheme which will expedite the process for companies who wish to recruit foreign nationals.

According to the report, the "premium sponsor" system is set to be announced imminently as part of wider efforts by ministers to trim red tape for businesses; Immigration officials are understood to have met several key players, including law firms, consultants and professional services companies, within the past few weeks to discuss the proposals.

The scheme would require large businesses to pay about £20,000 a year for the expedited service, while smaller businesses would pay about £8,000 a year.

Employers wishing to hire from outside the EU have to firstly apply for a sponsorship licence from the UK Border Agency and become a sponsor. Applying for a sponsorship licence and the Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa application could take months to process; The new paid system could introduce same-day applications.

The UK Border Agency introduced a similar immigration scheme this year which allows applicants applying under the current policy to pay a fee of £6,000 for "super premium service" to extend their Tier 1, 2, 4, and 5 visas. This service includes an immigration officer visiting you at a preferred location to collect biometric data and a decision being made on your application within 24 hours.

The planned changes are likely to be introduced by the UK Border Agency in 2012.

It is important to note that the new scheme would not lead to an increase in the annual cap of 21,700 non-EU workers coming to the UK.

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