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Latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules
07 April 2017
The Home Office has published the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. These Statements come every few months and they amend the Immigration Rules, which is a large body of law which governs visas, right of entry to the UK, leave to remain in the UK and so on. The various new amendments will, in most cases, take effect on 6 April 2017.
The latest Statement introduces - as is the norm - a large number of changes, some of them smaller and some of them larger, and they include changes to the Tier 2 skilled worker scheme, Tier 1 visa rules and overstaying rules.
Regarding Tier 2, there are many changes, including the following. The "Immigration Skills Charge" is being introduced for Tier 2 sponsor employers. There are no surprises here: this scheme, whereby employers who are sponsoring Tier 2 migrants will now have to pay an additional fee to the Home Office, was announced some time ago. The fee is either £1,000 per year per Tier 2 migrant or, for small and charitable organisations, the figure is £364 per year per Tier 2 migrant, and there are a few exemptions.
The scheme has a double-pronged character: it is designed to discourage employers from employing migrant workers, and the money raised from the scheme will apparently go towards training resident workers such that the need for migrant workers should in any case be reduced.
Also regarding Tier 2, a requirement is being introduced that Tier 2 migrants in certain sectors (health, social services and education) applying to come to the UK will have to provide a criminal record certificate from their home country to show (hopefully) that they have no criminal convictions.
This requirement for a criminal record certificate already existed for Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Investor migrants applying to come to the UK but it had not been rigorously incorporated into the Immigration Rules. But the relevant parts of the Rules are now being amended such that, from 6 April, it will be.
Another announced change is one to the rules about overstaying which, in some cases, could be a significant one. Where a migrant had previously overstayed in the UK, but had returned to their home country and subsequently applied for a visa to come back to the UK, any period of overstaying up to 90 days would be disregarded and not held against them. But now the rule has been tightened up and the figure of 90 days reduced to 30 days.
This rule could catch a migrant who is currently overstaying but who is relying on the 90-day rule and is intending to leave the UK before the 90-day rule catches them - and of course it is entirely possible that such a migrant might not be aware of the rule change.
It could also catch a migrant who has had a visa application refused with no right of appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal and who has thus applied for Judicial Review of the refusal decision. Unlike with an appeal, applying for Judicial Review does not extend immigration leave, and many migrants who are fighting a decision via Judicial Review are thus overstayers and thus not legally in the UK - which is of course an uncomfortable and anomalous situation which the authorities have not seen fit to redress.
This latter change is consistent with a recent trend of making things more restrictive for overstayers, both with the Home Office and with decisions of the higher courts.
Please note, very importantly, that this is only a very brief survey of the latest Statement of Changes, which introduces a large number of amendments to the Rules. If you want more detailed information or advice you are welcome to contact us.