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Latest UK & International Legal News

Tier 4 visas: Immigration Rules changes

The government announced changes to the Immigration Rules on 13 July. Many of these affect Tier 4 of the points-based system. The main changes will: stop new students at publicly funded colleges from working, bringing them in line with those at private colleges (from August) allow university students to study a new course at the same level but only where there’s a link to their previous course or the university confirms that this supports their career aspirations. There will be credibility interviews and sanctions against universities who abuse this rule (from August) ban college students from extending their Tier 4 visas in the UK unless they are studying at an ‘embedded college’, one which has a formal, direct link to a university that is recognised by the Home Office. This will require them to leave and apply for a new visa from outside the UK if they wish to study another course (from November) ban college students from being able to switch visas to Tiers 2 or 5 in the UK, and require them to apply from outside the UK (from November) reduce the time limit for study at further education level from 3 years to 2 years. This brings the maximum period...

Migration Advisory Committee publishes initial results of Tier 2 review

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) yesterday released a comprehensive 182-page review of Tier 2 visa salary thresholds. Tier 2 mainly consists of non-EU work migration. The MAC was commissioned in June to carry out the review, and it will report in two stages - firstly, yesterday's early advice on Tier 2 salary thresholds, and secondly, a wider review which will be delivered to government at the end of the year. The MAC urged the government to be cautious over any early decision to raise the minimum salary requirements for skilled migrant workers, pending the completion of the wider review. Yesterday's review stated: "Our focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We examine the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents. We set out the impact on the number of migrants excluded as the pay thresholds are raised (assuming firms do not raise their pay offer). We urge caution over thresholds because such decisions interact with the second tranche of our work, particularly the skills levy. In any event a modest rise in the minimum thresholds would have minimal impact on Tier 2 (General) because currently the prioritisation system with the limit is yielding required pay above £30,000...

Germany suspends Dublin Regulation procedures for asylum seekers from Syria

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) (a project of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles) reported yesterday that Germany has suspended deporting asylum seekers from Syria under the Dublin Regulation. The EU's Dublin Regulation (No 604/2013) determines which EU Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application and allows deportation if an asylum seeker tries to apply in another Member State. According to AIDA, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) issued internal instructions on 21 August 2015 suspending Dublin Regulation procedures in respect of Syrian nationals. The Telegraph reported that an official German source confirmed the suspension. AIDA says that Dublin procedures already initiated in relation to Syrians are to be cancelled, and newly applying Syrian asylum seekers will be channelled into the regular asylum procedure and will not be given the usual Dublin questionnaires. According to the Telegraph, Germany has long complained that the Dublin system is failing and that the rules are abused by other Member States to avoid taking asylum seekers. The Telegraph noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande held emergency talks in Berlin yesterday on the refugee and migrant crisis facing Europe and called for an overhaul of the EU's asylum system. According...

Illegal working punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine under new Immigration Bill

Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said yesterday that the forthcoming Immigration Bill will introduce a new offence of illegal working punishable by up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine in England and Wales. The Immigration Bill is set to be introduced this autumn. A Gov.uk news release reported that the Bill will also make it easier to prosecute employers who know, or reasonably suspect, that persons they employ do no have legal permission to work in the UK. Businesses such as pubs, off-licences or takeaways who evade sanctions or offend repeatedly face losing their licence to operate. Brokenshire was quoted as saying: "Anyone who thinks the UK is a soft touch should be in no doubt — if you are here illegally, we will take action to stop you from working, renting a flat, opening a bank account or driving a car." "As a one nation government we will continue to crack down on abuse and build an immigration system that works in the best interests of the British people and those who play by the rules." "Through our new Immigration Bill, illegal workers will face the prospect of a prison term and rogue employers could have their businesses closed,...

Net migration to the UK reaches record high

The latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that net migration to the UK for the year ending March 2015 reached an all-time record high of 330,000, beating the previous record of 320,000 in the year ending June 2005. The ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report, August 2015 is available here. The key points of the report are: • Net long-term international migration = +330,000 (up 94,000 from YE March 2014), in the year ending (YE) March 2015. • Immigration = 636,000 (up 84,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015. • Emigration = 307,000 (down 9,000), in the year ending (YE) March 2015. • The net migration figure was a statistically significant increase from 236,000 in YE March 2014 and is the highest net migration on record. • Net migration of EU citizens showed a statistically significant increase to 183,000 (up 53,000 from YE March 2014). The increase in non-EU net migration to 196,000 (up 39,000) was also statistically significant and is a result of an increase in immigration (not statistically significant) and a decrease in emigration (statistically significant). • The increase in long-term international immigration included a statistically significant increase for EU citizens to 269,000 (up 56,000), the highest...