The Home Office published its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 16th October 2014. Here is an overview of the key changes and how they will affect both employers and individuals:
The Statement of Changes specifies that Entry Clearance Officers and caseworkers will be able to refuse applications where there are realistic grounds to believe that the job does not genuinely exist or has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold. They may also withhold acceptance if they feel the applicant is not qualified to do the job or that the position has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.
If the applicant is not yet properly qualified or registered to do the job in question, he or she must provide evidence that he/she can reasonably be expected to obtain the appropriate qualifications or registrations by the time they begin their UK employment.
Applications may be refused if the job requirements are inappropriate to the vacancy or have been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.
Applicants for Tier 2 ICTs will have to prove that the vacancy recorded by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is indeed genuine, as applications may now be refused where grounds exist to believe otherwise. They may also refuse the application should Entry Clearance Officers feel that the applicant is not appropriately qualified to do the job in question. Sponsors will need to ensure that the need for the assignee to work in the UK entity is justified and for the good of the business.
If you are outside the UK and your application for a visa under the points-based system is refused, you generally do not have a full right of appeal. However, all applicants can apply for an administrative review, which is a tool for reviewing refusal decisions.
As of 20th October 2014, students have lost the right to appeal where they have been refused further leave to remain under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. The new rules will only permit these cases to apply for an administrative review.
We of course do not yet know how strictly this change will be administered but this change appears to suggest that the Home Office may in future apply a greater degree of objectivity during the processing procedure of Tier 2 applications.
The Business Visitor route enables individuals to carry out a wide range of permitted activities in the UK, provided they remain paid and employed overseas. This route is being expanded to permit scientists and researchers to share knowledge, expertise and advice on any UK-led international project, as long as the visitor is not carrying out research. If the assignee is required to undertake research or any form of work then they would require a Tier 5 (temporary worker) or Tier 2 (skilled work) visa.
The Business Visitor Route will also include a facility for overseas lawyers of international law firms which have offices in the UK, to provide direct advice to clients in the UK on litigation or international transactions. This change will permit the business visitor to provide direct advice to clients in the UK on litigation or international transactions.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
A change is being made from 5th November 2014 so that successful applicants will be granted 5 years’ leave (rather than 3 years’).
The English language requirement is being removed for extension applications in this category. This is consistent with introducing a 5-year grant period, as some applicants will no longer need to apply for extensions. It also alleviates the possibility of an otherwise exceptionally talented individual leaving the UK because they did not meet a language requirement. The knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement will continue to apply for indefinite leave to remain applications.
These changes will Increase flexibility for applicants in this category.
Tier 1 (Investor)
The current minimum investment threshold of £1million is being doubled to £2 million.
The new amendments will double minimum investment requirement, remove the ‘topping-up’ provision and not accept loaned funds. Investors will no need to ‘top-up’ their investment if it drops in value due to market fluctuations. The UK Government is, therefore encouraging investors to invest in higher risk investments which could theoretically benefit the United Kingdom.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants making first time applications from within the UK must show that the necessary funds are held within the UK. Applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) who have not provided this evidence with a previous application will need to provide the Home Office with evidence they have invested the funds in a business in the UK to enable the Home Office to verify that the funds are genuine.
This change will prevent applicants under this category, within the UK, relying on funds which are outside the UK.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
The annual allocations for participating countries on the scheme are being set for 2015. There will be a 16% increase in the allocations for New Zealand (11,000 places).
If you have any questions or wish to discuss further how any of these changes may affect you please contact us.