On 25th April 2013 we were pleased to host a breakfast seminar with British American Business Inc (BABI) at the AIG Building in the City of London. This is an event that we host annually with the aim of disseminating the latest information on developments in business immigration.
Our guest speaker was Kirsten McFarlane, the Head of Business and Investment Team at the UK Border Agency (UKBA). A full capacity audience of immigration stakeholders, including representatives of multi-national companies, legal representatives and other immigration specialists, had an opportunity to provide feedback to Kirsten on the experience of working with the UK Border Agency over the last 12 months.
The UKBA has now lost its agency status and has been brought back into the Home Office by order of the Secretary of State, Theresa May. It is likely the new immigration department will be known as the Visa and Immigration Service although no formal announcement has yet been made on this. Their website still refers to UKBA. Kirsten emphasised that the focus is to providing a strong and efficient service to corporate and business users as well as foreign investors. She acknowledged the audience point that stakeholders have a right to expect high service levels in return for the significant fees that now apply to immigration applications. The aim of the session was for Kirsten to clearly understand how the various strands of the service were working in practice and to report a “wish-list” back to the Interim Director General of the new service, Sarah Rapson. Kirsten left the meeting having heard some very forthright views from the audience.
Announcements will be made in the coming weeks about new service offerings. In particular it is hoped that premium and fast-track services will be expanded across the range of applications.