There have been a number of changes to the Immigration Laws implemented this year, coming into effect after 6th April 2017. If you are preparing an immigration visa application that will be submitted after this date, it may be worth your time to call us on 01793 836010 to see if we can assist you in navigating these changes, to ensure your visa application is a success.
Changes relating to overseas criminal record certificates
The requirement to provide an overseas criminal record certificate as part of an entry clearance application was introduced for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) migrants on 1 September 2015. We are making changes to Part 6A and Part 8 of the Immigration Rules to insert this requirement into the relevant eligibility provisions, as well as to extend the requirement to provide a criminal record certificate to Tier 2 (General) migrants who are intending to work in education, health and social care sectors and to their adult dependants. The extension of this requirement will strengthen safeguards against those with a criminal history seeking to come to the UK. As the requirement will now be set out in Part 6A and Part 8, we are deleting paragraph 320(2A).
Tier 2 (General) Changes
The Tier 2 (General) category is for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer which cannot be filled by a resident worker.
The following changes are being made following the review of Tier 2 by the MAC:
- The salary threshold for experienced workers is being increased to £30,000 for the majority of new applicants. The salary threshold for new entrants remains at £20,800.
- The changes laid in November 2016 (HC 667) exempted nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin from the new salary threshold until July 2019. This exemption continues, and a further change is being made to award these occupations extra points when allocating places in the Tier 2 (General) limit, to bring them into parity with occupations paying higher salaries. The additional points only apply where such jobs are not already prioritised due to being included on the Shortage Occupation List.
- Changes are being made to support posts associated with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project, where the sponsor is a newly-registered (within the last 3 years) branch or subsidiary of an overseas business and the investment involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs. Sponsors in such cases will be exempt from carrying out a Resident Labour Market Test and from the requirement to assign a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship under the Tier 2 (General) limit.
The following additional changes to Tier 2 (General) are being made:
- Changes are being made to the Shortage Occupation List following a separate review by the MAC on teaching shortages, published on 26 January 2017. Secondary school teachers in mathematics and physics are being retained on the list. Secondary school teachers in chemistry are being removed from the list. Secondary school teachers in combined science (where there is an element of physics teaching), computer science and Mandarin are being added to the list.
- Annual updates are being made to the salary thresholds for high earners (whose sponsors are exempt from carrying out a Resident Labour Market Test and from the requirement to assign a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship under the Tier 2 (General) limit) and for indefinite leave to remain applications, based on the latest available Average Weekly Earnings data.
- Minor technical changes are being made to the Resident Labour Market Test, including widening the websites which may be used for graduate recruitment from a specified list of four to any freely-available, prominent, graduate recruitment website.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
The Tier 2 (ICT) category supports inward investment and trade by allowing multinational employers to transfer key company personnel from overseas to their UK branch.
As with Tier 2 (General), a number of changes are being made in response to the review of Tier 2 by the MAC, and have been previously announced. The changes include:
- The Short Term Staff sub-category is being closed;
- The salary threshold for senior transferees who are able to extend their total stay in the category to up to nine years is being reduced, from £155,300 to £120,000;
- The requirement for transferees to have at least one year’s experience working for the sponsor’s linked entity overseas is being removed for applicants paid £73,900 or above.
Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT)
The following changes are being made to both the Tier 2 (General) and the Tier 2 (ICT) categories in response to the review by the MAC:
- Changes are being made relating to the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge, to enable a Certificate of Sponsorship to be considered invalid (and therefore for an application to be refused) if any charge which applies is not paid in full.
- Changes are being made following the MAC’s recommendation that the use of allowances in Tier 2 be reviewed. Changes are being made to provide greater clarity and consistency as to which types of allowance will be considered against the salary requirements. In addition, the closure of the ICT Short Term Staff sub-category means that accommodation allowances can form a maximum of 30% (rather than 40%) of the total salary package for all ICT workers (except Graduate Trainees).
Annual updates are being made to the appropriate salary rates in the codes of practice in Appendix J, using the latest available salary data for each occupation. Additional job information from the SOC 2010 system is being incorporated to remove the need for sponsors and applicants to refer to further guidance outside the Immigration Rules, along with other minor and technical changes.
Changes relating to overstayers
Paragraphs 320(7B)(i) and Appendix V paragraph 3.9(a) are being amended to reduce the period of overstaying which is permitted before a re-entry ban is imposed on individuals who have remained in the UK after their leave to enter or remain has expired. Unless specific exceptions apply, anyone who has overstayed for more than 90 days is subject to a 12 month re-entry ban. This is being reduced to 30 days. Consequential changes are also being made to Appendix V, paragraph 3.8.
The ban was introduced in 2012 to encourage those who had only recently overstayed and who could no longer apply for further leave in-country to depart and re-apply from overseas. The period of 90 days was originally intended to reduce any incentive to remain in the UK without leave. The reduction in the 90-day period to 30 days is being brought in to increase compliance with the Immigration Rules and reduce overstaying, while still enabling those who have overstayed for short periods and who are essentially compliant to return to the UK relatively quickly.
The Immigration laws change on a regular basis, generally significant changes occur every April and November. To keep up to date or if you have questions about the above changes please call us on 01793 836010.