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19/02/2020

UK launches new Points Based System effective from 1 January 2021

Following the end of the free movement of EU citizens, the UK has launched a
new points-based system, which is designed to treat the EU and non-EU citizens
alike.

The new system expands the skills threshold for skilled workers. Those looking
to come to the UK to work will now need to be qualified up to A level or
equivalent, rather than degree level under the current system.

The minimum salary threshold has been lowered from the current salary
threshold of £30,000 and will be set at £25,600. The current cap on the number
of people who can come on the skilled worker route and the resident labour
market test will be removed.

The new system offers greater flexibility by allowing applicants to ‘trade’
characteristics such as their specific job offer and qualifications against a
salary lower than the minimum salary in their field. For instance, if an
applicant earns less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less
than £20,480, they may still be able to come if they can demonstrate that they
have a job offer in a shortage occupation, or that they have a PhD relevant to
the job.

The new routes are likely to open from Autumn 2020, so that migrants can start
to apply ahead of the system taking effect in January 2021.​​​​​​​

09/01/2020


2-year UK post-study work visa for the 2020/21 intake of students

In 2019, the UK government announced that it will be reintroducing a 2-year post-study work visa which will be open to all international students who have completed a course of study at the undergraduate level or above, at an approved UK Higher Education Provider. The new ‘Graduate’ immigration route visa, it will be called, will be open to students who enrol on courses from this year on. This route will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, at any skill level or subject for two years after completing the study. After the two years, students will be able to switch onto the work permit visa if they find a job, which meets the skill requirement of the route.

If you are considering your options to study abroad and are going through the list of countries that you would like to study in, the year 2020 makes the UK an attractive destination as students who enrol on a course from this year on will get two years post-study work visa which will allow you to remain in the UK to gain work experience and or find a job and make the UK your home.

15/10/2019


UK Immigration system – where we are headed

In concomitant to the changes to the EU free movement law resulting from the referendum vote to leave the EU on 23 June 2016, a complete overhaul of the UK immigration system is on the horizon.

What has changed and what next?

EEA nationals resident in the UK prior to the exit date
EEA (includes EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss nationals and their family members resident in the UK before the exit date of 31 October 2019, are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement scheme to be granted permanent or temporary status to live, work and study in the UK. Permanent status, also known as Indefinite Leave to remain is referred to as ‘Settled status’ and temporary status, also known as limited leave to remain is referred to as ‘Pre-settled status’.
Individuals who have been resident in the UK for five years will be eligible for Settled status and those who have been resident for less than five years will be eligible for Pre-settled status. This is subject to the application being made before 31 December 2020 and proving residency in the UK prior to 31 October 2019.

EEA nationals arriving post-exit date
EEA nationals and their family members, who arrive after the exit day, can remain in the UK until 31 December 2020. If, however, they wish to stay in the UK beyond 31 December 2020, they would have to apply for a new immigration status called European Temporary Leave to Remain or under the new immigration system.

European Temporary Leave to remain (‘Euro TLR’) potentially effective after the exit date and prior to 31 December 2020
The Euro TLR applications will have to be made after arrival in the UK. They will be free. The maximum time permitted under Euro TLR will be 36 months. This status will not be extendible beyond 36 months. Those who intend to continue to live in the UK will have to apply under the new immigration system or leave the UK. The upshot of this scheme is that the time spent in the UK with Euro TLR status will count towards settlement if the holder of the leave qualifies for settlement under the new immigration system.

New Immigration system effective 1st January 2021
In Boris Johnson’s first statement to Parliament as the new Prime Minister on 25th July, he declared that one of his priorities was to review the current immigration system and look to introduce an ‘Australian style’ points-based system after Brexit.

As a result, Migration Advisory Committee (MAC’) has been commissioned to research and provide evidence-based recommendations on how the ‘Australian-style’ system might work in the UK as well as to probe potential future salary thresholds and the range at which they could be set. The MAC is expected to produce its final report and recommendations in January 2020.

The UK’s current points-based system, first introduced in February 2008 under the then Labour government was also heralded as based on the Australian system. It remains to be seen how new the new immigration system will be to the current one other than that it will be applicable to individuals of all nationalities alike. There are no details of the new immigration system published at the date of writing and we do not know what the new system will look like in 2021. It seems unlikely that the rules will be substantially different from the current rules. Conceivably, it will be a reintroduction of the genuine points-based system grounded in objectivity, which the current system has been deprived of.

Pertaining to the salary threshold level, whilst there is optimism that threshold will be substantially lowered from £30,000, there is also scope for introduction of exemptions from salary thresholds for instance due to jobs being in the shortage occupation list, or having regional variations.

The definitive immigration system of the future is yet unknown, but what is known is that the immigration system is changing, come what may.


18/06/2019


EU Settlement Scheme - ‘no deal’ scenario

The UK has an extension of Article 50 period until 31 October 2019 and in the evolving UK political situation, ‘no deal’ scenario seems like a probability than a mere possibility. Evidently, a tremendous amount of work has been done to protect the rights of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals already living in the UK, covering both eventualities of UK leaving the EU with a deal or without a deal. In the event that UK leaves the EU with no deal, the UK has made provision set out in its policy paper, that it will adopt ‘an approach based on the Withdrawal Agreement’ which was negotiated with the EU institutions and has not taken effect as it failed to get sufficient support.

Part 2 of the draft Withdrawal Agreement was drafted to preserve the rights of the EU nationals resident in the UK by giving them new status, Settled or Pre Settled status under the Settled status scheme. In line with the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the UK introduced the EU Settlement scheme, which became open to the public on 30th March 2019. Despite assurances to safeguard the rights of EU nationals resident in the UK, the provisions put in place are likely to have consequences.

‘No deal’
The UK has set out its position that there would be some changes if the UK leaves the EU without a deal and these are:
  • There would be no agreed implementation period, and the assurance to protect status under the EU Settlement scheme will apply to those EU citizens and their family members who are resident in the UK by the exit day, 31 October 2019 (at present). They will continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis as they do now.
  • EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by exit day would have until 31 December 2020 to apply for a status under the EU Settlement Scheme and there will be no six months grace period beyond this. The new UK Immigration system would be implemented from 1 January 2021.
  • A decision to refuse the status under the EU Settlement Scheme would be open to challenge only by way of administrative review and judicial review, as is the case with most leave to remain applications under the Immigration Rules. There would be no appeal right.
  • The EU deportation threshold would apply to crimes committed before exit and UK deportation threshold will apply after the exit day.

Those who have pre-settled or settled status would be able to be joined in the UK by family members (children, spouses and partners, parents and grandparents) by 29 March 2022, where the relationship existed by exit day. After this, the UK Immigration rules will apply, which will align the rights of EU citizens with the rights of UK nationals from 30 March 2022.

Issues
  • EU citizens and their family members who do not apply to stay in the UK by the 31 December 2020, will not be able to demonstrate their rights to work, study, access benefits and services, and risk becoming overstayers.
  • Those with pre-settled status must accrue five years of continuous residence before they become eligible for settled status. Any absence from the UK for six months will break the continuity of residence, which can be rectified as they long as the residence is resumed. However, if residence in the UK is not resumed by the exit date, you will not qualify under the EU Settlement scheme at all.
  • Those with settled status can lose this status through absence from the UK of a period exceeding 5 consecutive years in accordance with the draft Withdrawal Agreement. Whereas, the Immigration rules allow absences of no more than two consecutive years outside the UK before entitlement to return to the UK as returning resident is lost. There is a gap in the proposed legislation and the immigration rules under which the EU Settlement scheme operates which need to be aligned.

Protect your right
  • Those with less than five years qualifying residence in the UK should apply for pre-settled status and those with five years or more of qualifying residence for settled status.
  • Those who have a valid UK permanent residence document, must either apply to the convert their status to settled status or apply for citizenship by 31 December 2020.


05/02/2019

Gear up for Future UK Immigration System

The UK Government published its long-awaited immigration White Paper titled -UK’s Future skill based Immigration system on the 19 December 2018. This paper sets out proposals for a post-Brexit immigration system that will apply to the European Union (EU) nationals and non-EU nationals alike. The proposals are mainly recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on EU migration.
The key message highlighted in the White paper is that as the UK exits the EU and freedom of movement to the UK comes to an end, the UK Immigration rules will start to apply to migrants from the EU. The white paper proposes to introduce a single skills based system for workers that will apply to all nationalities alike.

The new system is intended to start from the end of the Implementation Period. The UK will exit the EU on 29 March 2019. The Implementation Period is scheduled to run until 31 December 2020, during which current EU free movement rules will continue to apply under the EU Settlement scheme. Thereafter, EU citizens and their family members will have until June 2021 to secure their status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The White Paper indicates the UK Government’s aim to bring the migration of EU nationals under the current Tier 2 skilled worker route of the Points Based System with some modifications.

What is proposed is:
  • Migrants of nationalities from across the globe will be required to obtain permission to come to the UK to work or study,
  • An annual cap of 20,700 applications would be removed,
  • Resident labour market test will be abolished,
  • Lowering the skills threshold from National Qualification Framework level 6 to level 3 (A-level or equivalent),
  • Make in country employer switches easy, and
  • Minimum salary of £30,000, irrespective of the skill level,(A level or post-graduate job), The government would engage with businesses and employers before accepting MAC’s recommendation on salary threshold.

Those coming to the UK under this route will need an employer to sponsor them. They will be allowed to bring dependants, extend their stay, switch to other routes, and, settle permanently.

In its recognition of significant skills gap in the UK in some sectors such as construction and social care, and to assist UK businesses to adjust to the change, the Government has proposed to introduce in parallel a transitional and interim measure of short-term workers route. This route will allow low skilled workers to come to the UK for a maximum of 12 months and contains a 12-month cooling off period to prevent further applications from migrants to return to the UK for similar work. This route does not require a sponsor and will enable workers to move between employers.

This route will be open to nationals of low-risk countries (likely to include EU countries) and will be highly restrictive. It will not allow bringing dependants, or rights to extend stay while in the UK or switch to other routes. This route is anticipated to run until 2025.

While the proposals in the White Paper are encouraging, the substance of it remains awaited as the Government embarks on a year-long journey of extensive engagement with stakeholders in the UK. Also, what remains to be seen is how the government that remains committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels will achieve its target by scrapping annual caps.


​​​
24/01/2019

Why parents have to be terminally ill to live with their immigrant children in the UK, while Canada has a humane approach.

Born and brought up in India I moved to the UK decades ago and my sibling immigrated to Canada a few years ago. After my sibling's departure to Canada with his family, my parents who are old and in good health and live in India became very lonely. Disheartened to see their plight via modern means of communication, both my sibling and I invited them to come and spend time with us.

We started the process of applying for a Canadian visa and it soon became apparent that there was a stark contrast not only in the fees charged but also the level of humanity and respect the Canadian immigration rules provided for elderly parents of immigrants. The entire process was seamless and their visas were issued within 8 weeks. This included the time taken to arrange medical appointments and for Doctors to send their reports to the Canadian Embassy.

A visitor visa to Canada costs CAD100 and is granted for up to10 years. Whereas a visitor visa to the UK costs GBP 93 if applying for 6 months, GBP 350 for two years, GBP 636 for five years and a whopping GBP 798 for 10 years. Despite the extortionate fee that has to be paid, one has to keep their fingers crossed that the immigration officer deciding the application deems their intentions consistent with that of a visitor. Should they deem it otherwise, a visa is most likely to be refused. Should the decision be
favourable, a six-month visa may be granted even if a visa for a longer duration was applied for and a higher fee paid. So you can pay GBP 798 for a 10 years visa but only end up being granted six months.

The most remarkable part of the Canadian immigration system is that it offers the immigrant population the right to have their families with them, which includes not just children under 18 but also their parents and grandparents. Unlike the UK, Canada offers - Parent and Grandparent Super Visa (Super Visa), which is a multiple entry visa granted for 10 years or the length of the validity of the passport, whichever is longer. The Super visa costs the same as a visitor visa but differs significantly from it. While visitors are permitted to stay for up to six months, those with a Super Visa can visit family in Canada and stay for up to two years each visit during the validity of the visa. So parents can spend two years in Canada and then leave the country for a day and re-enter for another two years. There are other requirements, which must be satisfied such as a minimum income threshold, health insurance etc. following which a visa is granted for 10 years or the length of
passport.

These are family-friendly rules, which provide tremendous support to the immigrant in a new country and enables them to integrate more easily. These rules are also recognition of the role parents play in their children’s lives, not only when they are young but also when they are grown up by providing additional familial support with, for instance, the raising of grandchildren.

However, the right to sponsor parents under a Super Visa
is non-existent under the UK Immigration rules. Unless, of course, one is able to prove that because of their parents' age, illness or disability, they require long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by the sponsor. Parents in good health have lesser rights to be with their children and can only be visitor parents to their UK Immigrant children. If they are in poor health and require long-term personal care of their UK sponsor, the cost of their visa application is £3250. And the success rate is grim.

The government’s refusal to introduce a Super Visa in the UK on the pretext that “important considerations against the Immigration Rules would not be applied consistently and could raise equality concerns, does not give much hope for now. It is, however, questionable how introducing a family income threshold along with the requirement of having health insurance and a condition of no recourse to public funds, raises equality concerns any more or different to those which are already applied under other immigration routes such as partners/ spouses.

Dependent relatives and elderly parents is an area of immigration law that affects many and there is a call for the current rules to be replaced with a more humane one to make the current system a
“fairer, more compassionate immigration system”.

The difference between the systems of the two countries is stark not only in policy but in practice too. The Canadian visa application process can be completed
on line and attendance at visa application centre is required, once the decision to grant a visa is made. Conversely, the UK immigration application is not considered until the biometrics appointment and original documents are submitted in person. Despite submitting the original documents, the application can still be refused because the Entry clearance officer cannot tell the difference between electronic documents and photocopies. So it is a matter of whether your application has gone in on a good or bad day.

Pleased with the outcome of my parents’ Canadian visa application, we then applied for their UK Visitor Visa, which is stated to take around 4 weeks. We were unwisely hoping that the immigration officer deciding their application would see their Canadian Super Visa and without difficulty grant the application within the stipulated timeframe.

In the excitement for the family get together, we made several bookings. First, my
parents flights to Canada via the UK were booked, before their UK application was submitted. There was still a six weeks window, which, in my view, and in normal circumstances is nothing out of the ordinary, as the visa processing time is 4 weeks. Hotel bookings were made near the airport in India before their departure (as my parents live at 8 hours drive from airport) then I booked myself on the same flight as my parents from the UK to Canada, and another hotel booking for best falls view – Niagara Falls, two days after our arrival date in Canada.

Almost 3 weeks into the processing of their UK visitor visa application, we received an email from UK Visas & Immigration with an update that the processing of my parents' Visitor Visa application is complex so it will not be decided in the said timeframe. Our excitement disappeared in the click of an email. But fortunately, their visa was received in time for the booked flight, after a lot of chasing up and a complaint.
The difference between the systems of the two countries became noticeably apparent - under the UK system, immigration officers suspect applicants until they find nothing, so you are guilty until proven innocent while it is otherwise with Canada.

What is of disquiet to many in a similar position to me is that while other nations have humane rules, the UK expects you to abandon the life that you have spent a lifetime building, to care for your parents if they do not meet the threshold of severity of incapacity, or you have to be prepared to have parents as visitors only until they become terminally ill. This is deplorable and change is desperately needed.

Monica Karir is Principal of the law firm Karir and
specialises in Immigration law.

This article was also published
here.


12/04/2018

Update on EU citizens’ rights in the UK post Brexit

An agreement to protect the rights of the EU citizens living in the UK after the UK leaves the EU has been reached between the UK government and the European Union on citizen’s rights.

The agreement provides certainty to the EU citizens and their families living in the UK, after UK leaves EU on 29 March 2019. It allows the EU citizens to continue to live in the UK and to access public funds and services on the same terms as before the Brexit.

It has also been agreed that there will be an implementation period from 30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. EU citizens and their families arriving during the implementation period will be required to register if they wished to stay for more than 3 months. And those who will complete 5 years of continuous and lawful residence in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to apply for settled status. Those who will not have completed 5 years will be able to apply for temporary status to stay in the UK until they have completed 5 years, at which stage they will be able to apply for settled status. Family members of those EU nationals living in the UK will be able to apply to join them even after 31 December 2020, provided their relationship existed prior to the expiry of the implementation period.

Those arriving after December 2020 will have to apply under the new immigration rules that are anticipated to be in place by then.

Consideration of applications under the new system

There will be three phases under the new system:
1. Registration system for status documents for EU nationals and their families already in the UK,
2. Registration for new arrivals during the implementation stage between 30 March 2019 and 31 December 2020,
3. A new immigration system for those arriving after the implementation date.

The expected date for the 1st phase above which will cater for resident EU population to go live is likely to be September 2018. The system is to remain open until 30 June 2021.

It will be mandatory for EU nationals and their families living in the UK to apply for their status document to prove their right to live and work in the UK. According to the Home Office, the application process under the new system is simplified. The fee is stated to be no more than that charged for UK passport. It will be free for those who already hold permanent residence document.

Once the settled status is acquired, it will only be lost through absence from the UK for 5 years.

If you are an EU citizen or their family member and require advice and assistance about your situation, please contact us now.



17/07/17

EU citizens rights to live in the UK post Brexit

On 26th June 2017, the UK government published its proposals “safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK” setting out its position on the status of EU citizens when UK leaves the EU.

Briefly, what UK has proposed in terms of EU citizens rights to live in the UK is new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens, enforceable in the UK courts. The Court of Justice of the European Union will have no jurisdiction in the UK. The proposals are:

(1)EU nationals who have been living in the UK in accordance with the EU treaties for five years prior the ‘specified date’ will seek comfort in that they will be granted ‘settled status’ in the UK. The specified date is likely to be a date between 29th March 2017 and the date of UK’s exit from the EU.

(2) Those EU nationals who entered the UK before the specified date and are yet to accrue five years residency in the UK will be given the opportunity to build up five years residency so that they could qualify for a settled status in the UK on completing five years residency. In the interim, they will be granted ‘temporary status’.

(3) Those EU nationals who enter the UK after the specified date will not be able to benefit under the proposals as they could not have entered the UK with the expectation that they would be able to settle in the UK under the EU provisions and build their future in the UK. Rather, they may have to qualify under the UK Immigration rules or possibly under new rules for EU nationals under the post-exit immigration arrangements.

(4) Family members of qualifying EU nationals who join them before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years residency in the UK. Whereas family members who join after the UK has exited the EU may have to qualify under the UK immigration rules or possibly under the post-exit immigration arrangements.

It will be mandatory for EU nationals and their family members living in the UK to apply for their new residence status in the UK – settled or temporary, depending on the individual circumstances. Anyone without a residence document will be deemed undocumented and will be at risk of removal from the UK.

While the UK’s proposals and assurance to EU nationals are subject to EU offering reciprocal treatment for UK nationals resident in its member states, the European Commission has also published its proposal on the Citizen’s rights as the first round of negotiations with the UK. These proposals seek the same level of protection for the EU citizens living in the UK at the date of UK’s exit from the EU as under the Union law. Further protection is sought for the family members of EU nationals who have already joined them in the UK or are likely to do so in the future, after the UK’s exit from EU. The Commission also proposes that the Court of Justice of the European Union should have jurisdiction over the protection of EU citizen’s rights in the Withdrawal agreement.

It is an untrodden territory and what the final exit deal on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK remains to be seen. The EEA nationals living in the UK are best advised to obtain documentation confirming their residence status. Those who have completed five years residence should consider applying for a permanent residence status document followed by a British citizenship as soon as they become eligible.



07/02/2016

Brexit

The result of the EU referendum on the 23rd June when the UK voted to leave the EU, has left us in uncertainty about the future relationship of the UK with the EU. But of immediate concern is the potential effect of this decision on EU nationals and their family members resident in the UK. There are around 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. As EU nationals are not required to hold residence documents to prove their status, it remains to be seen what rules the UK government will implement to enable them to continue to live in the UK and how the rules will affect individuals. In any event, they would be required to hold a document to prove their status. Before any such changes are introduced we would strongly encourage EEA and EU nationals and their family members to apply for status documents and particularly if they qualify for permanent residence to preserve their status. Although the only thing that is certain about Brexit is uncertainty for individuals and businesses alike about their future. Whatever changes are on the horizon, one can only anticipate that they are likely to make it harder to qualify for residency status in the UK and or permanent residence.

It has been widely reported in the media that the politicians' strongest option for the Brexit negotiation is to restrict EU migration to those who have job offers in the UK. This will be in line with the wider aim of the UK referendum to 'cut immigration while keeping the freedom of movement needed to stay in Europe's single market.'
In light of the recent discussions about the negotiation options, it is likely that in the future EU nationals wishing to migrate to the UK will find themselves having to meet similar and stringent requirements like migrants from outside the EU are required to meet.

If you are an EU or EEA national resident in the UK we encourage you to get in touch to discuss how best to protect your status as we move towards 'Brexit'.


31/10/15

New UK Immigration rule changes announced on 29th October 2015

The Home Office has published its latest Statement of Changes in Immigration rules ( HC 535), fifth in the year 2015. Most of the changes take effect on the 19th November 2015 and will affect applications submitted on this date onwards, unless otherwise stated. The key changes are as follows:

Asylum
making asylum claims from EU nationals invalid, unless exceptional circumstances apply. Where a claim is treated as inadmissible, it will not receive substantive consideration and there is no right of appeal against a decision to treat a claim as inadmissible though this may be challenged by way of Judicial Review, clarifying the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn. These are where evidence emerges that such status was obtained by deception or where it is clear that protection is no longer needed or where someone commits a serious crime or is a considered a danger to UK’s national security or someone who instigates or otherwise participate in acts covered by Article 1F of the Refugee Convention, including those who engage in extremist activities that represent a threat to UK’s national security.

Settlement
ensuring indefinite leave and naturalisation applicants, who normally rely on an English language qualification, take a secure English language test, the introduction of the £35k minimum earnings threshold for Tier 2 settlement, which will come into force on 6 April 2016.

Family/private life
providing that a child’s application for entry clearance will be refused where the Secretary of State considers that the sponsor or the sponsor’s partner poses a risk to the child, for the purposes of an application under Appendix FM, or as a fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same sex partner, child, parent or adult dependent relative under Part 8, requiring an EEA national / non EEA national with an EEA right to reside in the UK permanently tohold a valid permanent residence document to show permission to remain in the UK indefinitely, in order to be regarded as present and settled in the UK. This change will apply to applications made on or after 19 May 2016.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the points-based system
amending the endorsement criteria used by Tech City UK, to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the UK digital technology sector.

Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system
adding nurses and four digital technology jobs to the Tier 2 shortage occupation list,
changes to clarify the charity worker rules for sponsors and applicants,
setting the annual allocation of places available under the youth mobility scheme for 2016,
minor amendments to the list of government authorised exchange schemes.

17/08/15

Review of Tier 2 route of the Points Based System – Initial report published by Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)

In the wake of increasing demand for restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) in the recent months, the monthly limit of 1650 (of annual cap of 20,700 for non-EEU skilled migrants) was hit for the first time in June 2015 since the cap was first introduced in 2011. The demand for RCoS was in excess of 3000 in the month of July 2015. As a result, MAC was commissioned in June 2015 by the UK Government to consider the economic rationale for increasing the minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2 migrants and its impact on reducing net migration to the UK with focus on ensuring that Tier 2 migrants are not undercutting the resident labour force.

The MAC has been asked to report in two stages:

the initial analysis stage of the report encompasses a review of salary thresholds, published on 13th August 2015 and, the in-depth stage of the report encompasses a wider review and is due to be completed by December 2015, it will provide advice on potential changes to Tier 2 route to address concerns about the increasing number of migrants in this route and whether the route should be relied upon to fill shortage occupations. MAC’s initial analysis does not find evidence of undercutting resident labour force. It concluded that if there was any undercutting, it was isolated and not widespread. It states “[h]owever, this conclusion is tentative and we will be conducting more in-depth analysis for our December report to test this further.

MAC also stated that
“As well as preventing undercutting, an increase in the minimum salary thresholds could also be justified if it puts upward pressure on wages in sectors which are currently relying on migrants to fill skills shortages. ... An increase in the salary thresholds will likely contribute to the Government’s aim of reducing skilled immigration in the UK. Higher salary thresholds should reduce employer demand for skilled migrant labour and, all things being equal, reduce inflows of skilled migrants as well as their dependents under Tier 2.”

As part of its findings MAC concluded that aside from the government’s aim of reducing skilled migration if employers are unable to afford skilled Tier 2 labour, “this could lead to bottlenecks constraining the growth of individual firms....and, restricting Tier 2 inflows could limit UK productivity growth.”

However, MAC finds that “ there is a good case for increasing the overall minimum threshold of £20,800 for Tier 2 (General) as this was calculated in 2009 when the skill requirement was NQF3 and it is now NQF6.”

Overall, MAC has urged “caution in making any significant changes to the salary thresholds until the wider review of Tier 2 has been completed in December 2015”, and advices that salary thresholds should not be considered in isolation.

What changes to Tier 2 migrant route are afoot remains to be seen after the wider review at the end of the year. However, the likely changes to prepare for are increases, albeit not significant, in the overall minimum threshold for Tier 2 migrants.

21/07/15

Changes to Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur route requiring applicants and their family members to prove 10 years clean criminal record

From 1st September 2015, all those applying for a visa under the Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur route will be required to provide overseas criminal record certificate for the previous 10 years from every country (excluding the UK) they have lived in for 12 months or more with their application. Original certificate must be provided and if it is not in English, it must be accompanied by a certified translation.

Adult dependants, aged 18 or more (effectively partners or spouses) will also be required to provide overseas criminal record certificate for the previous 10 years to prove that they have no criminal convictions in any overseas countries where they have lived for 12 months or more.

Failure to provide a criminal record certificate without an acceptable explanation will result in mandatory refusal of the application under the general grounds for refusal.

Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire was quoted by the Mail as saying:
“'Foreign criminals have no place in the United Kingdom and this scheme will help keep them out.
'Since 2010, checks on foreign nationals going through the UK criminal justice system have increased by more than 1,000 percent, helping ensure more foreign criminals are taken off our streets and making our communities safer.

'But we want to go further still by preventing these people getting into the country in the first place. Mandatory police certificates will serve as an additional tool to help us achieve this.'
Visa applications are currently checked against UK criminal records and any overseas offences that are recorded on the UK Police National Computer (PNC) or immigration systems.

But not all offences committed abroad are provided by overseas authorities to the UK proactively.
The changes are being announced now to ensure that people have sufficient time to obtain certificates from relevant countries before the scheme is introduced on September 1.”

This is the rollout of a trial scheme and is likely to be extended to other routes depending on the success of the trial. The rollout, however, is not likely to extend to visitors.

The process of obtaining a criminal record certificate can be quite cumbersome in some countries and the processing time can also vary from country to country. For instance, it can take up to four weeks to obtain a certificate in India whereas it can be obtained in less than three weeks in Canada. The changes call for potential applicants to plan well in advance the timing for the submission of their application.

22/03/15

UK Immigration Health Surcharge introduced, effective 6th April 2015

From 6th April 2015, all non-EEA nationals (save exemptions) applying to enter the UK or remain in the UK for more than six months will be subject to a mandatory health surcharge which is set at £200 a year for temporary migrants and £150 for students.

The purpose of the health surcharge is to allow temporary migrants’ access to NHS on the same terms as a settled person. Where a settled person is required to pay for services such as dental treatment and prescription charges, those services are not covered by the surcharge.

The surcharge will be payable upfront at the time of the immigration application and the amount will depend on the length of visa or leave applied for. Where it includes part of the year, the amount payable will be half of the annual surcharge for six months or less and full for more than six months.

In the event of refusal of an application, a full refund will be issued.

Dependants will be required to pay the same amount as their main applicant.

The following are exempt from paying the surcharge - Visitors, Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers ), asylum and humanitarian protection claimants, applications under Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, children under 18 taken into care, victims of human trafficking, applications under destitute domestic violence concession, dependants of members of HM Forces or another country’s forces who are exempt from immigration control, nationals of Australia and New Zealand, and British Overseas Territory Citizen who is the resident of the Falkland Islands.

06/02/15

Home Office announces proposed visa fee for the year 2015 to 2016

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/indicative-visa-charges-for-2015-to-2016

04/02/15

Begum (false documents and false statements) [2015] UKUT 00041 (IAC)

The Upper Tribunal dismisses the appellant’s appeal for submitting a document in support her entry clearance application which unknown to her contained a false statement. The false statement was made by a third party in a document that was procured by the sponsor and relied upon by the appellant. It is the knowledge of the third party and that of the sponsor in relation to the false statement in the document relied upon by the appellant, the case fell to be refused under paragraph 320(7A).