The government recently announced changes to the Immigration Rules, following a review and recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
As a reminder, the changes listed below have taken effect from 24th November 2016.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) caters for applicants coming to the UK to set up, take over, or be involved in the running of a business in the UK. The following minor technical changes are being made:
- Applicants supplying third party evidence do not need their bank statements to cover a consecutive 90-day period of time.
- Applicants who are also accountants cannot sign off their own accounts and/or funding evidence.
- Applicants with funding from an endorsed Seed Funding Competition will be permitted 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).
- The company’s register of members must come from Companies House.
- Minor clarifications to existing Immigration Rules around job creation and evidence to demonstrate Pay As You Earn (PAYE) reporting to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
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Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category is for talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology to work in the UK without needing to be sponsored.
The following minor technical changes are being made to this category:
- It has been agreed with the Isle of Man Government that the UK Designated Competent Bodies will consider endorsement applications for this category on the Isle of Man.
- The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) limit of 1,000 places includes applicants who successfully apply under the equivalent Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route on the Isle of Man.
- Evidence originating from the Isle of Man will be acceptable for the purposes of obtaining an endorsement from a Designated Competent Body.
- The list of acceptable awards within the film, television, animation, postproduction and visual effects industry, for endorsement under the Arts Council England criteria, has been updated.
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Tier 2 (General)
The following changes are being made:
- The salary threshold for experienced workers has been increased to £25,000 for the majority of new applicants. An exemption applies to nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers of maths, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin. The exemption will end in July 2019.
- The £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored under Tier 2 (General) before 24th November 2016, if they apply to extend their stay in the 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 24th November 2016 and April 2017 – they will need to satisfy the £30,000 threshold in any future application.
- Applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes will be permitted to change occupation within, or at the end of, the programme without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) or for them to make a new application.
- Nurses are being retained on the Shortage Occupation List. However, an RLMT must have been carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
- Switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 will not be permitted where the applicant is relying on a qualification obtained via supplementary study. An applicant switching from Tier 4 must have studied their course at a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution.
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Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
The changes include:
- The salary for short term ICT applicants has been increased to £30,000 for new applicants. A transitional arrangement applies for those already in the UK under the short term route. Those applicants who obtained their CoS before 24th November 2016 will be subject to the previous salary requirements
- The closure of the Skills Transfer sub-category to new applicants from 24th November 2016.
- salary threshold for the Graduate Trainee subcategory has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000.
- The number of places a Graduate Trainee sponsor can use increases from five to 20 per year.
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Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
The following changes are being made in Tier 5:
- The Immigration Rules are amended to specify new allocations of places to participating countries for 2017 in the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) category.
- The Rules are amended to provide for the operation of arrangements to manage the allocation of places under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) allocation for Japan, where demand is expected to significantly exceed supply.
- Deemed sponsorship status is conferred upon Taiwan.
- In line with Tier 2, A-Rated Tier 5 sponsors will be permitted to certify maintenance in respect of a Tier 5 migrant, and their dependents, by confirming that that they will maintain and accommodate the migrant for the first month of their stay.
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Changes to the periods within which applications for further leave can be made by overstayers
The 28-day grace period for those who overstay their visa is to be abolished for applications made on or after 24th November 2016. However, an out of time application will not be refused on the basis that the applicant has overstayed where the Secretary of State considers that there is a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative, given in or with the application, why an in time application could not be made, provided the application is made within 14 days of the expiry of leave.
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This overview is not exhaustive and does not substitute for actual advice based on specific circumstances. Different employer and individual circumstances will require bespoke advice. Readers are reminded that immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment’s notice without any warning.
For further information, please get in touch with Dearson Winyard.