UK Immigration Rule Changes – April 2016

sydneyThe Home Office has published a Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules, the majority of which will take effect from 6th April 2016.

It is worth noting that these rule changes do not include any reforms resulting from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s recent reviews of Tier 1 or Tier 2. The Government has not yet announced its response to those reports, but we will bring you further news as we have it.

The main changes from 6th April are:

  • Domestic workers will be permitted to change employer within their six month visa. Furthermore, domestic workers with a conclusive grounds decision that they are trafficked or enslaved will be allowed to apply for leave to remain for up to two years
  • Time spent in the UK with leave under Tier 4 (General) under the age of 18 will count toward calculation of the maximum period an individual can spend in the UK under Tier 4 (General)
  • A new discretionary power is to be introduced to refuse applications on the basis of any outstanding litigation debt owed to the Home Office by applicants. The new rule will encourage applicants to pay litigation debts that they owe and assist the Home Office in recovering the costs incurred in dealing with the unsuccessful litigation
  • The same power will also apply to:
    • Appendix V, which contains ‘suitability requirements’ for applicants under the visitor route; and
    • the ‘suitability requirements’ in Appendix FM and Appendix Armed Forces so that applications made under those Appendices may also be refused on the basis of litigation debt

In summary, in the Tier 1 category:

  • Across Tier 1, there are changes to allow for accounts and supporting letters from certain sources of funds, or from UK Trade and Investment, to be used in support of an application instead of a third party declaration
  • The evidential requirements for applicants applying under Tier 1 and using funding from venture capital firms are being expanded
  • There are some clarifications to the rules for Tier 1 Entrepreneurs seeking an accelerated route to settlement, plus further clarifications on creation of jobs under the same route
  • There are some changes to endorsement letters for applicants under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Some minor amendments have been introduced to the criteria used by Tech City UK for endorsing applicants under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

Under the Tier 2 route:

  • To better reflect seasonal demand for places across the year, based on recent trends, there are changes to redistribute the monthly allocations of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) under the annual limit
  • An annual uplift is being applied to the earnings threshold for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) settlement application; the uplifted threshold will apply to settlement applications made from 6th April 2021
  • Previously only seen in Home Office guidance, the requirement that an application cannot be made earlier than three months before the start date given by the sponsor will be moved to the Immigration Rules for Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

In other changes, the “points based calculator” will no longer exist after 5th April 2016, replaced by UK NARIC VisasAndNationality. See this DWI news update for more details.

A further change will allow Masters degrees and PhDs taught in English to be used to satisfy the English language requirement for Representatives of Overseas Businesses.

For details on the recent Statement of Changes, please visit the Rule Changes section at www.immigrationuk.co.uk

Please contact one of DWI’s specialist #ukimmigration advisors if you have any queries.

 

 

 

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UK Immigration – Sponsors & Compliance

Our #ukimmigration blog continues with this look at Sponsors and ensuring your organisation fulfils its UK immigration obligations.

The Sponsor Licence

All UK employers who want to employ overseas workers under Tier 2 General need a Sponsor Licence, authorised by the UK immigration authorities. If the licence application is approved, employers are given either an A-rating or B-rating depending on their level of compliance or risk factor.

The Government places a significant amount of responsibility on employers and sponsors are required to continually meet specific obligations.

A sponsor failing to comply with the duties laid out in the Home Office guidelines faces severe penalties:

  • The Home Office may suspend or downgrade your licence if they believe you are not complying with your duties as a sponsor.
  • Alternatively, the Home Office may revoke your sponsor licence entirely. This will mean all migrants with Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 status will have to leave the UK voluntarily or face enforced removal.
  • Further penalties for employing illegal workers may also include a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.

Home Office Compliance

In late 2015, the Home Office stated that the number of Compliance Audits will be increased in all industry sectors, and that many of these will be unannounced.

  • 1792 sponsor licence applications were made in Q2 2015
  • Of these, 791 received a HO visit, some 44%
  • Of those receiving a visit, 57% were unannounced

Approximately 4000 sponsor licence applications were received in 2015; around 25% of those have been audited. The refusal rate is currently almost 1 in 3 (over 30%).

In an effort to rationalise the number of sponsors on the register in 2016, renewal applications will be approached with increased scrutiny and issues including further visits.

Dearson Winyard’s Compliance Audit

Dearson Winyard (DWI) can help your organisation maintain its compliance in case of a Home Office audit.

As part of our Compliance Audit, DWI will undertake a full audit of your organisation’s HR systems as regards its migrant workforce. This will cover six areas:

  1. Prevention of illegal employment and how this is integrated into the hiring process – how document checking procedures are integrated into the recruitment process and how migrants are identified and tracked
  2. Maintaining migrant contact details – which processes are in place to ensure HR records are kept up to date with staff personal contact details
  3. Record keeping – quality of HR file-keeping and how this corresponds to best practice
  4. Migrant tracking and monitoring – how the company monitors, tracks and reports its migrant population
  5. General sponsor duties – compliance with sponsorship duties, including management of the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
  6. Ongoing sponsorship compliance – reporting changes to employee details (contacts, job roles etc.) and employee absence as well as company changes and updating the SMS

Following this, DWI will provide a full report of our findings and make recommendations on areas that need focus to ensure your maximum compliance. We will also give guidance on the presentation of evidence during the audit and the procedure of the audit itself.

Please contact Sarah Jackson, DWI Client Services Manager, at sarah.jackson@dwiglobal.com or 07884 549109 to discuss these services further.