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Latest UK & International Legal News

5,000 refugees arrive since Syrian scheme expanded

More than 5,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the UK under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) scheme since October 2015, new figures reveal today (Thursday 23 February).   Over 1,200 refugees arrived in the final 3 months of 2016, meaning 5,454 people have been given refuge since the government pledged to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020. Within this total, approximately half of those who arrived under the scheme were children. Today’s figures also show Syrian refugees are now being housed by more than 200 local authorities across the United Kingdom. The government continues to work with councils and devolved administrations to ensure placements are available as more vulnerable people arrive. Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said: The humanitarian crisis in Syria is unprecedented, which is why this government is undertaking one of the largest resettlement schemes in the UK’s history. I’m delighted with the significant progress we have made with the VPR scheme so far and vulnerable refugees are arriving here every month. The hard work will continue throughout this Parliament, as we work with local authorities to provide those who have been displaced by conflict with a safe environment and the opportunity to rebuild their lives. In September 2015,...

Changes to the immigration rules

The Home Office is making changes to the Immigration Rules affecting a number of categories. The government announced today, 3 November, changes to the Immigration Rules which will affect applications made on or after 24 November unless stated otherwise. The main changes are outlined below: Tier 2 Implement the first of 2 phases of changes to Tier 2, announced by the government in March following a review by the Independent Migration Advisory Committee. Increasing the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions Increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000 Reducing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year Closing the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category These changes will come into effect for all certificates of sponsorship assigned by Tier 2 sponsors on or after 24 November 2016. The date from which intra company transfers will be liable for the health surcharge will be announced in due course. Tier 4 A number of changes are being made, including amendments to the academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for the Doctorate Extension Scheme...

6th April 2017 – Changes following Statement of Intent

When the Points-Based System was introduced in 2008-2009, it replaced several previous immigration categories which were then closed. Changes are being made to remove the transitional arrangements for applicants who were previously granted leave in these closed categories to switch into the Points-Based System, where these arrangements are no longer needed. References to closed categories are being retained where required, such as for applicants who may still be relying on a period of leave as a highly skilled migrant or as a work permit holder to contribute towards their qualifying period to support an application for indefinite leave to remain. Changes are being made to update references to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) to refer to the new Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).  Changes are being made to reflect advice from UK NARIC that it is now able to assess qualifications as having been taught in English to levels below C1, and to bring evidential requirements in Appendix B in line with previous changes. IDFC Bank Ltd is being added to the list of financial institutions in India whose financial statements are accepted. Further changes to this list are being made to reflect the change of name of The Dhanalakshmi Bank...

Certain changes related to Tier 5 of the Points-Based System

Sponsors of creative workers in the Creative and Sporting sub-category must comply with a recruitment code of practice or otherwise take into account the needs of the resident labour market. A change is being made to waive this requirement for creative sector jobs which appear on the Shortage Occupation List. A further change is being made to the codes of practice for creative workers so that sponsors do not need to carry out a recruitment search where a performer is required for continuity or is engaged by a unit company in relation to productions outside the UK, rather than outside the EEA, as at present. This ensures that non-EEA nationals who have performed in productions elsewhere in the EEA are not disadvantaged. Amendments are being made to clarify the maximum grant periods for Tier 5 (Temporary Workers). The Rules are amended to provide for the operation of arrangements to manage the allocation of places under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) allocation for Taiwan, where demand is expected to significantly exceed supply.

Changes relating to Tier 1 of the Points-Based System

Tier 1 of the Points-Based System caters for high value migrants, and currently consists of four active categories: Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). It also includes the Tier 1 (General) category, which was closed to new applicants in April 2011 but remains open for settlement applications. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category caters for applicants coming to the UK to set up, take over, or be involved in the running of a business in the UK. The following technical changes are being made to this category to clarify various evidential requirements and to correct minor drafting errors: An amendment to provide a clearer definition of “invested” funds; Removing references to HM Revenue & Customs documentation which has been discontinued in light of self-assessment of self-employed earnings; Clarifying the evidential requirements for applicants who have invested in a Limited Liability Partnership; Revising the specified evidence required to demonstrate that an entrepreneur’s employee has settled status in the UK (to satisfy the requirement for the applicant to create jobs for settled workers); Clarifying the specified evidence on job creation, so that an applicant can provide confirmation from an accountant that...

Tier 2 changes being enforced from April 2017

The Tier 2 (General) category is for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer which cannot be filled by a resident worker. The following changes are being made following the review of Tier 2 by the MAC: The following changes are being made following the review of Tier 2 by the MAC: The salary threshold for experienced workers is being increased to £30,000 for the majority of new applicants. The salary threshold for new entrants remains at £20,800. The changes laid in November 2016 (HC 667) exempted nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin from the new salary threshold until July 2019. This exemption continues, and a further change is being made to award these occupations extra points when allocating places in the Tier 2 (General) limit, to bring them into parity with occupations paying higher salaries. The additional points only apply where such jobs are not already prioritised due to being included on the Shortage Occupation List. Changes are being made to support posts associated with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project, where...

Changes relating to Tier 4 of the Points-Based System – 17th March 2017

Changes relating to Tier 4 of the Points-Based System  Tier 4 of the Points Based System is the route used by non-EEA nationals wishing to study in the UK. Tier 4 is comprised of two categories: Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child). The following changes are being made in Tier 4: Tier 4 students who have work rights are limited in the number of hours they may work per week. An amendment is being made to set out a definition of a week, in order to ensure clarity for students, employers and sponsors. An amendment is being made to clarify that only where an applicant is being sponsored wholly by a Government or international scholarship agency by means of an award which covers both fees and maintenance must they provide the unconditional written consent of the sponsoring Government or agency to the application, and the specified documents set out in paragraph 245A. Under Tier 4 (General), if the course is below degree level, the grant of entry clearance or leave must not lead to the applicant having been granted more than 2 years in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant since the age of 18 to study courses that did not consist of degree level study....

The Home Office has published its response to two reviews of Tier 2 policy, undertaken by the Migration Advisory Committee

Tier 2 is the main immigration route for non-EEA nationals to apply to work in the UK. The proposed changes are balanced to ensure that employers are incentivised to up-skill and train resident workers, whilst making sure they can continue to access migrant workers when needed. The main changes include: Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017. However, some health and education professionals will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019. The minimum threshold of £20,800 for new entrants will be maintained. Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers and their sponsor will not have to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test. Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse the current intra-company transfer provisions are being simplified by requiring all intra-company transferees to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, with the exception of the graduate trainees. The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at...

Tier 2 immigration skills charge from April 2017

An Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is being introduced as part of upcoming changes to the Tier 2 (General) immigration route from 6 April 2017. The ISC will be paid by employers who recruit skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) through the route. This will have implications for your recruitment activities outside of the EEA. Key points to consider The charge is a flat rate of £1,000 per person per year of the sponsorship. Employers must pay the ISC upfront at the point a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is assigned to an individual. Exemptions apply to Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2, PhD occupations and the individual's family (dependants). The ISC does not apply to CoS assigned to individuals before 6 April 2017 or to existing Tier 2 workers already in the UK before 6 April 2017 who extend their stay or change job or employer. The funds raised from the ISC will be used to address the skills gap in the domestic workforce. We are awaiting further details to be released by The Department of Education. Salary Thresholds The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 applications is increasing as outlined in the table below. For experienced workers, there...

Secure English Language Testing (SELT)

What is a SELT provider? For certain visa applications applicants must demonstrate a certain level of English language ability. This can be through passing a test with a Home Office approved Secure English Language Testing (SELT) provider. Which test should I take? It is for you to decide which SELT test to take. These tests on the published list offered by Trinity College London and the IELTS SELT Consortium are acceptable for a number of immigration routes. You should take the level of test required for the immigration route you are applying for. What is the difference between the tests? There are two types of test as different immigration routes require different English language ability. The GESE and Life Skills tests will assess your speaking and listening abilities. The ISE and IELTS tests will test your reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities. What is the process for taking a SELT? You can only take a SELT test offered by either: Trinity College London (UK only); or, IELTS SELT Consortium (UK or overseas). You will need to book your test using the relevant online booking system. The details used to book your test must be as stated on your passport or...