Autumn Changes to UK Immigration Rules coming into effect on 24 November 2016
UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) announced in April this year that they would roll out changes to the UK immigration rules in two stages, the first being in Autumn 2016. Whilst we expected the changes to take place early October 2016, it has been announced on 3rd November that the following changes will come in to effect as of 24th November 2016.
We have outlined the main changes which are likely to affect businesses and migrants and what they need to be aware of for future assignments, whereby sponsorship will be required.
The following will apply for all Tier 2 categories, currently this consists of four overall categories.
- The Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased from £20,800 to £25,000, the new entrants rate will remain at £20,800 and an exemption from this increase will apply for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin. The exemption will end July 2019.
- Increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff from £24,800 to £30,000.
- A reduction for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 from £24,800 and increasing the number of places from 5 to 20 per company per year.
- Closure of the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.
- A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes. This enables them to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme, without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.
As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 salary threshold will not apply to workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) category before 24 November 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the same category. The Government intends to increase the threshold to £30,000 in April 2017; there will be no such transitional arrangement for workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) between 24 November 2016 and April 2017, they will be required to satisfy the £30,000 salary threshold for any future application.
UKVI are yet to announce from which date the Immigration Health Surcharge will apply to Tier 2 ICT applications, we will announce further updates when available, however, we think this maybe later this year.
English Language Requirement
There will be an introduction of a new English Language requirement at Level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), for applicants applying for further leave to remain as a Non-EEA family member or parent, after completing 30 months in the UK on a 5-year route to settlement under Appendix FM.
The new requirement will apply to partners and parents whose current leave under the family Immigration Rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.
A change is also being made to Appendix B to be clear that an applicant must provide official documentation produced by UK NARIC to confirm any assessment of their degree by UK NARIC.
The following will be applied to Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications.
- An amendment to clarify that applicants supplying third party evidence do not need to meet the requirement for their bank statements to cover a consecutive 90-day period.
- An amendment to make clear that applicants who are also accountants cannot sign-off their own accounts and/or funding evidence.
- Making a provision to allow applicants with funding from an endorsed Seed Funding Competition to provide a letter from an authorised official of the fund as confirmation that money is being made available for investment, rather than a letter from an accountant as at present. This brings the provision for funding from endorsed Seed Funding Competitions into line with the provisions for funding from UK and Devolved Government Departments.
- A clarification that the company’s register of members must come from Companies House.
- In response to queries from external stakeholders, minor clarifications are being made to existing Immigration Rules around job creation and evidence to demonstrate Pay As You Earn (PAYE) reporting to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Tier 4 (General)
A vast number of changes have been made to this route, including amendments to the academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and evidence of overseas qualifications, UK qualifications used as evidence, and a series of minor and technical adjustments.
Other changes to the Points-Based System
There will be a change in the time given to applicants and sponsors to respond to requests for further information in relation to genuineness assessments in both categories is being reduced from 28 calendar days to 10 working days, for consistency with other similar requirements elsewhere in the Immigration Rules.
Minor changes are also being made across both these categories to clarify appropriate rate requirements and replace outdated references to the UK Border Agency.
We have only highlighted the main changes, there are several extensive changes which can be found on the UKVI website to other immigration categories. To review the changes in full refer to the Statement of Changes or contact us for clarity or advice on any of the rule changes and to check how they may affect your business or the migrants you employ.
We would be delighted to answer any questions you may have in relation to the changes, you may contact us on 020 3318 5794.