The changes to the Immigration Rules made by June's Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC1154) will take effect from tomorrow, 6 July 2018, however in relation to these changes, if an application has been made for entry clearance or leave to enter or remain before 6 July 2018, the application will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 5 July 2018.
Main Purpose of the Changes:
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I recognise the pressures faced by the NHS and other sectors in recent months. Doctors and nurses play a vital role in society and at this time we need more in the UK. That is why I have reviewed our skilled worker visa route. This is about finding a solution to increased demand and to support our essential national services."
The memorandum which supplements the changes informs that the purpose of the new changes are as follows:
- To make provision for returning residents, including those affected by Windrush.
- To create a route for Afghan locally engaged staff to apply for settlement in the UK and to extend the ex-gratia redundancy scheme by six years, to include those made redundant on or after 1 May 2006.
- To create a new settlement route for Turkish ECAA business persons, workers and their family members.
- To create a new form of leave for people, transferred to the UK under the Dubs amendment, who do not qualify for international protection.
- Exempt all doctors and all nurses from the annual Tier 2 (General) limit.
- Create new provisions in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category.
We have highlighted the main changes below:
Tier 2 Visas (General): Monthly Cap
There will be changes to exempt doctors and nurses from the monthly Tier 2 (General) restricted COS ('Certificate of Sponsorship') limit. The belief is that this will open up "about 40% of all Tier 2 places". This means that the demand for restricted CoS will shrink.
The requirement of labour market test remains so that it can be proved that there are no suitable UK worker for the position. However, visas will now be allocated from the employer's unrestricted COS allocation.
This may result in problems for the NHS sponsors who do not have a large enough COS allocation.
The government has indicated that the changes "will be kept under review". It is hard to understand exactly what is meant by this, but it could be that if there is suddenly a big increase in roles being sponsored under the relevant codes that the relaxation could be removed. However, the government has also indicated that it will commission the Migration Advisory Committee to review the composition of the shortage occupation list following the removal of doctors and nurses from the annual Tier 2 (General) limit.
Other changes under Tier 2
The government has finally indicated that the 10% limit on shares which a Tier 2 migrant can hold in their sponsor includes shares held indirectly, as well as directly. This provision dates back to the old 'work permit' scheme, and it is surprising that it has taken so long to be addressed.
References to the old Universal Jobmatch service have been replaced with references to its successor Find a Job scheme.
Tier 2 applicants applying for settlement after 6 July 2018 who have been absent from work on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave will now need to submit documentary evidence of the birth or adoption.
Changes to Tier 1 visas
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
The scope of roles that can be enforced under the arts field by the relevant designated competent body (in this case, the British Fashion Council operating within the endorsement remit of Arts Council England) is to be widened to include those in the fashion industry who are operating leading designer fashion businesses.
This targeting of specific roles and sectors is becoming an increasing feature of the skilled work-related routes. Another example is the proposed changes to the existing Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur scheme announced by the government on 13 June designed to attract those who wish to start a business in the UK, particularly high-tech start-up businesses.
Tier 1 (Investor)
The evidence requirements for applicants in this category have been tightened. Currently, applicants must submit a portfolio report as evidence that investments have been maintained at the required £2 million level, signed off by a financial institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The financial institution must now also confirm that the funds have only been invested in qualifying investments, and that no loan has been secured against the funds.
Changes to Tier 4 (student) visas
The government has made a number of changes which will generally help Tier 4 students, and are broadly good news for Tier 4 sponsoring institutions.
The minimum length that a postgraduate course needs to be in order for a Tier 4 migrant to be eligible to bring dependants with them to the UK is being reduced from 12 months to nine months.
The Home Office will now accept printouts from awarding bodies' online checking services as evidence of previous qualifications, although it has retained the power to request to see the original certificate of qualification or transcript if required.
Documentary requirements have been reduced for students from Bahrain, Cambodia, China and the Macau SAR, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Maldives, Mexico, Serbia and Thailand.
ATAS certificates will now be required from students who undertake a relevant period of study or research of any length as part of an overseas postgraduate qualification. Previously, this was not required if the period was for less than six months.
New Settlement route for Turkish ECCA workers
There is now a new 5 year route to settlement that has A new five-year route to settlement has been announced for Turkish businesspeople who are in the UK under the EU-Turkey European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA).
The continuity of leave
It has been accepted that requirements relating to continuity of leave are more generous for those making in-country applications, compared to those making out of country applications. As such, changes will be made to make entry clearance applications in line with with the in-country requirements.
Therefore, an applicant whose application failed in-country, may be able to make an application out of country within 14 days of the previous refusal without affecting continuity of leave– if the application is then approved.
The Calculation of absences from the UK
There has been a change to the original decision to make retrospective a change to the calculation of the no more than 180 day absence requirement for most applicants applying for leave to remain in a work-related category.
The requirement was widened on 11 January 2018 so that the 180 day limit could not be exceeded in any 12 month period during that time. This included absences by highly skilled individuals with leave that was granted before the date of the change.
The new change means that the rolling 180 day requirement will not apply to absences which occurred during periods of leave granted before 11 January 2018.
Although this is good news for the people who are affected by this, there will be a different 180 day tests that will apply depending on the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain.
The rules now make a distinction between returning residents who have been absent from the UK for under two years and those who have been absent for longer than two years, to assist members of the 'Windrush Generation' who left the UK before the April change in the law guaranteeing them UK citizenship. The latter must apply for leave to enter and must show that they have strong ties to the UK and intend to make the UK their permanent home. This is a weaker test than that which applied in the past, where in practice only exceptional circumstances might enable a successful application.
For more information on the changes, please see the link for the complete Statement of changes in the Immigration Rules: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/716674/CCS207_CCS0618810832-1_HC1154_Web_Accessible.pdf