New Changes to Immigration Rules Coming into Force on 6 April 2014
A number of changes to the Immigration Rules were laid before Parliament on 13 March 2014 which came into force on 6 April 2014.
Some of the key changes are as follows:
- Allowing Tier 2 applicants to be granted up to 5 years leave at a time (an increase from 3 years) upon payment of a higher fee. This eliminates the need to submit an extension application after the grant of initial leave (usually 3 years) and creates more flexibility for migrants who need to stay on a long term basis in the UK. Sponsors will need to carefully consider the effect of long term recruitment at the initial hiring or intra-company transfer stage (such as meeting UK tax and employment requirements).
- Updating minimum salary thresholds, appropriate salary rates for occupations and maintenance funds thresholds in Tier 2 and other categories. The updates are in line with changes in the average weekly earnings for resident workers. The increase in maintenance funds will affect all applications made from 1 July 2014. As applicants need to have held the funds for 28 or 90 days, anyone planning to apply from 1 July is advised to take note of these changes now to save up the necessary funds.
- Expanding the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to allow applications from those in the digital technology sector who are endorsed as a leading talent by Tech City UK, a new Designated Competent Body.
- Making it easier for applicants in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to apply from overseas and to make time spent in other immigration categories count towards qualifying for settlement.
- Amongst other minor changes, updates are being made to the evidential requirements for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applications including removing the need for third party declarations to be provided to reflect current banking practice, and requiring alternative documentation to evidence the requirement such as producing business accounts as evidence of investment.
- Under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, removing the limited places for MBA graduates to allow places for graduates of any subject from UK institutions and removing the restrictions on participants requiring they obtained their degree within the last 12 months or from a particular institution. This will be of particular benefit to overseas applicants and for those in the UK undertaking research since graduating.
- Creating a new 24 month category for overseas government sponsored language teachers under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route. This will enable government sponsored teachers to share knowledge and awareness of foreign languages and cultures in the UK. The Home Office reports that the first of these schemes will be for a Mandarin teaching scheme designed to foster good cultural relations between the UK and China.
- Introducing a clearer policy on criminal convictions.
- Amending Part 9 of the Immigration Rules relating to the General Grounds for Refusal by incorporating powers to cancel leave in the Curtailment Rules; enabling leave to be curtailed where a Points-Based system sponsor notifies the Home Office that a migrant’s period of study/work is due to end earlier than had been originally planned when leave to enter or remain was granted; and making minor changes to clarify the wording and intention of the Rules.
- Removing the granting of B-rated licences for sponsor applications under Tier 2 and Tier 5. Applicants must be able to achieve an A-rating otherwise the application will be refused. (The policy on downgrading an A-rated licence to a B-rating remains unchanged.)
- Applications for a Tier 2 (General) licence may be refused if the Home Office does not believe the applicant can offer genuine employment which meets the Tier 2 (General) requirements.
- Introducing a change that Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants will be protected in the event that their employment TUPE-transfers to a new company which did not originally sponsor them. In that scenario, we understand the Home Office will treat them as if the identity of their employer has not changed.
For full details of the changes please see the Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules (HC1138) and the Explanatory Memorandum on the Home Office Website.
If your business requires advice regarding these proposed Immigration Rule Changes, please contact our specialist Business Immigration Team: Owen Jones, Anita de Atouguia, Victoria Burnip, Chloe Harrold and Mandeep Khroud.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.