UNITED KINGDOM – Changes to the Immigration Rules from October 2013
On 6 September 2013, a written ministerial statement was laid before Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, effective 1 October 2013.
Some of the changes aim to provide more flexibility for businesses and overseas workers in the UK. The key changes are outlined below.
- The introduction of a “genuine earnings” test for Tier 1 (General) extension and settlement applications, giving Home Office caseworkers greater scope to test supporting evidence where a bogus claim of earnings is suspected.
- A number of changes will be made to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, including the requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they do not rely on the same funds to satisfy both the investment and maintenance criteria.
- In response to representations from businesses, Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) applicants extending their stay beyond three years will no longer need to meet the English language requirement.
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) will be added to the list of categories that can benefit from the post-study work provisions when switching into the Tier 2 (General) category. These provisions waive the requirement for Sponsors to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test, and allow applicants to be paid “new entrant” rather than “experienced worker” salary rates.
- The rule that Tier 2 (General) applicants cannot own more than 10% shares in the Sponsor’s business (for those earning £152,100 or more) will be waived.
- A change is being made to allow students in Tier 4 who have completed degrees in the UK to change status to undertake corporate internships which directly relate to their degrees. These internships will take place in the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange sub-category. Roles must be supernumerary and stay is restricted to 12 months. Switching into Tier 2 at the end of the internship is not permitted.
- This change is also in response to UK business representations which has indicated that it may be easier to recruit graduates with specialist skills for internships, with a view to offering them a permanent position in the future.
- A “genuineness” test is being added to the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category, in order to address concerns that the category is not always being used by those with the skills and experience to do the jobs for which they are being sponsored.
- Hong Kong will be added to the list of participating countries under the Youth Mobility Scheme.
- Changes are being made to the way in which applicants for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK. From 28 October 2013, all applicants will be required to demonstrate their ability to communicate orally at a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, in addition to passing the Life in the UK test. Previously, applicants had to either pass the Life in the UK test or had to demonstrate a good grasp of English by obtaining an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) qualification.
- Migrants granted permission to stay in the UK as work permit holders, before switching into Tier 2 (ICT) and then into Tier 1 (General), will be permitted to count the time spent in all three categories towards the five year qualifying period for settlement, rather than just the time spent in Tier 1.
- Currently, only those who have entered the UK as a dependent are permitted to make an application from within the UK to remain a dependent. From 1 October migrants in immigration categories other than dependents can apply to switch into the status of a points-based system dependent, providing they are not in the UK illegally or were last granted entry as a visitor or given temporary admission. The present restrictions on switching the other way around, from dependent to main applicant, will remain.
If you have people moving to the UK:
- Check the new documentary requirements for Tier 1 and Tier 5 applications;
- Check whether they may benefit from the new rules for Tier 2 applications;
- Check that applicants for settlement meet the new requirements for knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK;
- Be aware that family members with other UK immigration status may now switch to dependent status.