On 3rd November 2016, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, which are due to take effect from 24th November 2016.
The statement is a comprehensive outline of detailed, technical changes to specific areas of immigration policy, however, a summary of the main amendments are as follows:
Tier 2 (General):
The following changes are being made following the review of Tier 2 by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC):
- The salary threshold for experienced workers has been increased to £25,000 for the majority of new applicants (the salary threshold for new entrants has been held at £20,800). An exemption from this increase will apply for nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin. The exemption will end in July 2019. For clarity, the salary thresholds are being set out in a new table.
- As a transitional arrangement, the £25,000 threshold will not apply to workers sponsored in Tier 2 (General) before 24 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 24 November 2016 and April 2017 – they will need to satisfy the £30,000 threshold in any future application.
- UK graduates who have returned overseas have been weighted more heavily in the monthly allocation rounds under the Tier 2 limit. Graduates who apply in the UK continue to be exempt from the limit.
- A change is being made to facilitate changes of occupation for applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes. This enables them to change occupation within the programme or at the end of the programme, without their sponsor needing to carry out a further Resident Labour Market Test or for them to make a new application.
The following additional changes to Tier 2 (General) are being made:
- From April 2017, a change to the Rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant 4 years after carrying out a milkround, without the need for a further recruitment search. Sponsors can continue to rely on a milkround which ended up to 4 years prior to assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, but only providing the migrant was offered the job within 6 months of that milkround taking place.
Following a separate review by the MAC on nursing shortages, nurses are being retained on the Shortage Occupation List, but a change is being made to require a Resident Labour Market Test to have been carried out before a nurse is assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship. The rules regarding preregistration nurses are also being consolidated into a new paragraph 77K in Appendix A.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))
A number of changes are also being made in response to the review of Tier 2 by the MAC, and have been previously announced. 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.
- The closure of the Skills Transfer sub-category to new applicants.
- Changes to the Graduate Trainee sub-category. The salary threshold has been reduced from £24,800 to £23,000 and the number of places a sponsor can use has been increased from 5 to 20 per year. As with Tier 2 (General), the salary thresholds are being set out in a new table for clarity.
In addition, a redundant paragraph relating to time spent working in the UK for the Sponsor is being removed.
A change is being made to Appendix B to be clear that an applicant must provide official documentation produced by UK NARIC to confirm any assessment of their degree by UK NARIC.
Changes are being made to references to UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), to reflect that UKTI is now a part of the Department for International Trade and that funding for its global graduate entrepreneur programme is now provided by an external supplier.
Changes to reform the periods within which applications for further leave can be made by over stayers:
While applications for further leave to remain for many rules-based applications are expected to be made before any existing leave expires, any period of overstaying for 28 days or less had previously not a ground for refusal as far as those applications are concerned. This 28 day period was originally brought in so that people who had made an innocent mistake were not penalised but retaining it sends a message which is inconsistent with the need to ensure compliance with the United Kingdom”s immigration laws.
The 28-day period is, therefore, to be abolished. 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, provided the application is made within 14 days of the expiry of leave.
Changes relating to Tier 5 of the Points-Based System
The provisions of the Immigration Rules in respect of maintenance requirements are amended to bring them in line with the equivalent provisions for Tier 2 migrants, providing A-Rated Tier 5 sponsors with the option of certifying maintenance in respect of a Tier 5 migrant by confirming that that they will maintain and accommodate the migrant for the first month of their stay. The rules are also amended to enable a Tier 5 sponsor to certify maintenance in respect of the dependants of a Tier 5 migrant.
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