Latest set of changes to the UK Immigration rules
On 1 October 2013, the new changes to the Immigration Rules came into effect.
These changes will mean greater flexibility for businesses and workers in the UK. However, a new “genuineness” tests in Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5, may have a negative effect on timings for applications. The now defunct UKBA sought to simplify the immigration rules with the introduction of the points based system in the year 2008. The objective was to create a set of rules where there was no discretion and the applicant either met the rules or failed. These rules were originally underpinned by policy guidance on how each rule operated. It however appears the Home Office is now shifting away from the objective “Points-based” system and is re-introducing the pre-2008 aspect of subjective decision-making.
Key changes under Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5 include:
- Removing the English language requirement for applicants in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category who are applying to extend their stay for three years (at present only high earners paid £152,100 or more are exempt);
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants can benefit from the post-study work provisions when switching into the Tier 2 (General) category (so they will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test and can be paid at the “new entrant” salary);
- Waiving the maximum 10% share ownership restrictions for Tier 2 (General) applicants for high earners paid £152,100 per annum or more;
- Correcting the Codes of Practice (which set, amongst other things, the minimum appropriate rates of pay for occupations under Tier 2 and work permit arrangements) to reflect the weekly hours on which the rates are based in line with information from the salary sources used to derive the rates;
- A new “genuineness” test is being added to the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) category;
- A new “genuine earnings” test is being added to Tier 1 (General) extension and settlement applications to enable caseworkers to test the evidence presented in cases where there is doubt as to its validity;
- Changes relating to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route to reflect an added criteria by the Arts Council for endorsing applicants in the Arts who ‘demonstrate exceptional promise’;
- In July 2012, a “genuineness” test was introduced to Tier 4 Student applications applying for entry clearance. This test is being extended to Tier 4 leave to remain applications too and will be accompanied with powers to refuse Tier 4 extension applications where the applicant cannot speak English;
- A new “genuineness” test is being added to the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category;
- Hong Kong is being added to the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme(YMS);
- New Tier 5 YMS quotas will be published for 2014; and
- Allowing some students to work as interns under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange scheme.
Other key changes to the Rules are as follows:
- Allowing tourists and business visitors to do up to 30 days of recreational English language or academic study provided that it is not the main purpose of their visit;
- Expanding the activities a business visitor can do in the UK such as expanding the training a business visitor can receive in the UK;
- Allowing an internal auditor from a global organisation to undertake a short internal audit as a business visitor rather than using the Tier 2 route; and
- The prospective student route will be abolished.
- Expanding checks to ensure applicants for work and student visas are genuine, and that they intend to meet the conditions of leave they apply for;
- Adding the power to curtail leave for persistent or serious offenders under the Immigration Rules for curtailment;
- Introducing temporary Immigration Rules so participants and personnel can come to the UK during the 20th 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow from 23 July to 3 August 2014;
- Minor changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules, including those relating to family life;
- From 28 October 2013, there will be an additional English language component to the KOLL requirement to ensure all applicants can communicate orally in English at a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Applicants will still be required to demonstrate their knowledge of life in the UK by passing the Life in the UK test (the new version of the test came out on 25 March 2013).
For full details of the changes please click on the link Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules (HC 628).
In case of any questions/clarifications, please contact one of our Global Mobility professionals on 020 3553 7711 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.