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Upcoming Changes To UK Immigration Rules

Upcoming Changes To UK Immigration Rules

A Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules has been laid before Parliament. The Statement outlines a number of changes to the UK’s Immigration Rules, which are said to be designed to make the UK more attractive as a destination for international businesses and international students. The key changes employers should be aware of, which come into effect on 1 October 2013, are noted below.

Tier 1 of the Points Based System (Highly Skilled Migrants)

  • The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category is for those who lead the world or show exceptional promise in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts and have been endorsed by a Designated Competent Body. This category will be expanded to provide for artists of exceptional promise.

Tier 2 of the Points Based System (Skilled Workers)

  • At present individuals in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category must meet the English language requirement, unless they are:
    • earning £152,100 or more; or
    • not applying to extend their leave in the category beyond three years total stay in the UK.

From 1 October the English language requirement will be removed for applicants in this category extending their stay beyond three years. As this category ceased to lead to settlement in 2010, the need for integration in the UK is considered less relevant.

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) will be added to the list of categories eligible to switch into the Tier 2 (General) category under the post-study work provisions. Sponsors will not have to carry out a resident labour market test when employing such individuals and may pay them the “new entrant”, as opposed to “experienced” salary rates detailed in the UK Border Agency’s Codes of Practice.
  • The requirement that Tier 2 (General) applicants, earning £152,100 or more, cannot own more than 10% of the shares in the sponsor’s business is being waived.

Tier 4 of the Points Based System (Students)

  • Tier 4 graduates who have completed their degree in the UK will be allowed to switch into a corporate internship under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange category, provided it directly relates to their degree. This change is being made in response to representations from businesses that it will make it easier to recruit graduates with specialist skills for internships with a view to offering them a permanent position in the future. The stay will be restricted to twelve months and the roles must be supernumerary. Switching into Tier 2 at the end of the internship will not be permitted.

Visitors

  • Currently general visitors and business visitors are not permitted to study in the UK. To do so they must apply to enter as a student visitor. There will be greater flexibility for such visitors to attend courses providing that is incidental to their visit. They may undertake up to 30 days of recreational, English language or academic study, provided it is not the main purpose of their visit.
  • There will be an expansion in the permissible activities a business visitor can undertake in the UK.
    • First, to allow internal auditors from global corporations to undertake short internal audits as business visitors rather than using the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer route.
    • Secondly, to expand the training a business visitor can receive to include corporate training that is for the purpose of the visitor’s employment overseas. The training must be delivered by a UK company that is neither part of the visitor’s employer’s corporate group, nor whose main activity is the provision of training.

Further Changes

The Government has yet to release the Immigration Bill, anticipated this autumn. The bill is expected to introduce, among other things, tougher civil penalties for the employment of illegal workers and a reduction in the range of documents that can evidence eligibility to work in the UK. We will report on any such changes when the draft is published.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of the changes referred to above, please contact a member of our business immigration team.

Joanne Hennessy
Senior Associate

LChalmers