New reforms planned by the UK Government on visa categories

It is quite interesting to view the UK Government’s opinion in terms of the impact migration has to the UK, and the benefits it brings about. The Entrepreneurs Network published a very detailed report on the major contribution foreign-born entrepreneurs are making to the UK economy. The reports provides important factual data, that demonstrates that migration plays an important role towards our economy. For example, 49% of the UK’s fastest-growing startup companies have at least one immigrant co-founder. According to the report, since the Post-Study Work Visa route was withdrawn the UK’s global market share of international students has fallen from 12% in 2010 to 8% in 2016. That does not surprise me at all, as the entire immigration programs have been drastically changed or removed, impacting the very essence of how important migration is to the UK. A perception that the Government has created whereby everyone is either coming to take our jobs or being reliant on the State, which is not true.

This moves us to the new “digital transformation” that the UK Home Office have moved their immigration systems to. I welcome the news that the new partner for the UK Home Office, Sopra Steria have ended their relationship with an immigration firm. What is important is that the rule of fairness and justice must be ensured by the public body. This was a grave failure by all of those who did not consider the issue in hand. We also find that some Service Centres, run by Sopra Steria, appear to demonstrate the lack of experience on the UK Home Office process and providing Applicant’s wrongful information.

As Brexit becomes part of the national debate and a change in the UK’s PM, the ability to control immigration and secure the border was
an important part of why many people voted to leave the European Union. It has now led to a number of key debates, including the reforming of the Immigration Rules HC395 policy law. Some interesting changes to be implemented post Brexit, and here is an overview of those:

  1. The Tier 2 General currently requires almost all employers to run a Resident Labour Market Test, also known as the RLMT. It is part of the Sponsor Licence holders compliance requirements, to demonstrate that there are no settled person able to fulfil this job. This created unnecessary bureaucratic systems and the UK Home Office are considering to remove this, as this will allow employer’s to find a suitable worker without the need to follow that process. The Tier 2 General has one more criterias, which is the genuine vacancy test, and this would be part of an Applicant’s visa consideration.
  2. EU nationals and other low risk countries will have the benefit of being able to work and live in the UK without undertaking a rigid process. This will be confirmed by the UK Home Office in due course and we anticipate that those changes would be implemented some point this year.
  3. Employers have to some extent become reliant on lower skilled workers from the EU for certain jobs. Leaving the EU provides an opportunity to drive business change and ensure that UK companies are at the forefront of innovation going forward. However, UK Home Office recognise the challenges faced by these employers, particularly in sectors like construction and social care, who would find it difficult immediately to adapt. In that case, there will be a transitional measure in place to allow low skilled workers to remain in employment, possibly for 12 months and will not be allowed to extend unless a 12 months cooling off period has applied to that migrant.
  4. As you may remember that the closure of the Tier 1 post study work visa which allowed a student to complete 2 years work experience, is likely to be introduced however this will only be for a short term of 6 months. It would allow those students who have completed a degree or Masters with a University only.

Finally, we end with the current figures from the UK Home Office. The Border, Immigration and Citizenship System currently costs £2.8 billion a year to run including asylum and enforcement costs and the UK Home Office raise £2.3 billion a year in visa and passport fees. Income generation through fees and charges will continue to underpin the future system, contributing significantly towards funding. However it is important to note that fees have become a serious burden on migrants, to bear the costs of the system.