Favourable changes to UK Immigration Rules for Businesses, Foreign Employees and Tourists
On the 6th of September 2013, Mark Harper, the Minister of State for Immigration, announced a number of changes to the UK immigration rules coming into force in October 2013. These changes will be positive for businesses, employees and tourists alike. Relevant rule changes for business and employees include:
- Removal of the English language requirement for Tier 2 intra-company transferees;
- Making it easier for Tier 1 graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2;
- Waiving share ownership restrictions for some senior staff earning £152,100 or more; and
- Allowing some Tier 4 students to work as interns under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme.
These changes will be welcomed by many businesses, particularly the removal of the English language requirement and share ownership restrictions for senior staff. The removal of the English language requirement for intra-company transferees provides businesses with a greater deal of flexibility when transferring employees to the UK. For example, a business will be able to transfer non-English speaking employees from abroad to the UK on short or long term assignments for projects which do not require English language skills.
By waving share ownership restrictions for some senior staff earning £152,100 or more, the UK government is continuing to demonstrate that people who contribute to the country’s economy should not be penalised for being foreign nationals, rather they should be encouraged to stay and continue to contribute to the economy.
Tourist and business visitors will benefit from the following changes:
- Tourists and business visitors will be allowed to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit;
- Permissible activities for a business visitor in the UK will be expanded;
These changes offer greater flexibility to visitors travelling to the UK. Previously when people wanted to conduct any study during their visit to the UK, they were required to apply for either a student visitor visa if they were attending short courses, or a Tier 4 visa for longer term courses. From October, tourists and business visitors wishing to do some study whilst on their visitor visas will now have a simpler option.
News of the expansion of permissible activities that business visitors can conduct whilst in the UK should be welcomed by work visitors who regularly visit the UK, HR and Global Mobility professionals, and anyone else who organises business visits and assignments for employees. Deciding between a business visit visa and a Tier 2 visa is often not an easy decision to make, but by broadening the scope of permissible activities that can be conducted on a business visit visa, the decision is made a little simpler. It will also allow business travelers to travel with a business visitor visa when previously required to apply for a Tier 2 visa, thus reducing application time and costs associated with Tier 2 visa applications. Business visitors should always be aware of permissible activities under their visa category because the consequences of non-compliance can be severe for both the employee and the business.
For more information on the latest UK immigration rule changes and how they may affect your business, please contact one of our UK immigration lawyers on 020 3553 7711.