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Work permit renewals: processing time to be slashed


The processing time for work permit renewals is to be slashed by up to three months following the introduction of a new renewal system today by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett. The move, together with new measures arising from the work permit review, will particularly help IT employers to address skills shortages.

The new arrangements will give employers a one-stop shop when it comes to renewing employees’ permits, including passport stamping. The aim is to cut down the processing time for 80 per cent of all applications to one week, by March 2001.

The new system will complement a raft of innovative measures included in the work permit review conducted by Employment Minister, Margaret Hodge and announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown in the Budget. The modernisation measures include:

* a fast-track work permit route for employers in recognised shortage sectors, such as IT

* a pilot project involving multi-national employers such as Merrill Lynch and Intel where the companies will be able to self-certify employee transfers

* ‘season tickets’ work permits for people who need to work for short periods on a regular basis

* ‘switching’ schemes whereby students can go on to obtain a work permit without having to leave the country

* a rolling programme of sector analysis to identify quickly any sectors with skills shortages, and the establishment of a user panel

* a revision of the skills criteria for permits for business and commercial workers, less skilled workers and entertainers

* a pilot scheme which will allow individuals of outstanding ability to apply on their own behalf for entry clearance to seek work in the UK

* an increase in the maximum permit period from four to five years.


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