UK Immigration Rules changes for April 2017 – a detailed summary

March 29, 2017 All, UK
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UK Immigration Rules changes for April 2017 – a detailed summary

Following the Statement of Changes announced by the Home Office on 16 March 2017, we have prepared a detailed summary of those changes as outlined below (brief overview can be…

Following the Statement of Changes announced by the Home Office on 16 March 2017, we have prepared a detailed summary of those changes as outlined below (brief overview can be found here). The majority of changes will take effect from 6 April 2017.

Tier 2 General

  • Annual updates are made to the appropriate salary rates in the codes of practice.
  • The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) workers increases from £25,000 to £30,000 per year for experienced workers (specific health and education sector roles are exempt from this requirement until July 2019). The salary threshold for new entrants remains the same at £20,800.
  • The salary threshold for a high-earner under Tier 2 (General) category increases from £155,300 to £159,600. Employers sponsoring high-earner migrants are exempt from carrying out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) and assigning a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • For Tier 2 (General) posts supporting the relocation of high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project, a waiver from having to conduct the RLMT will apply, as well as being considered outside the Tier 2 (General) annual limit for new overseas hires. This provision will apply to new sponsors (registered in the UK with Companies House no earlier than three years before the date the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned), where the sponsor is the registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the United Kingdom; and the relocation or inward investment involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs. The sponsors are expected to provide evidence of the above, if requested.
  • There are some technical changes to the requirement on carrying out the RLMT as well as introduction of a wider options for choice of media to advertise graduate roles (milkround advertising). For new graduate jobs and internships timing within which the advertising could be relied on increases from 6 months to 12 months, i.e. the RLMT should be live for at least 28 days within the 4 years immediately before the Sponsor assigned the Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant provided the applicant was offered the job within 12 months of the end of the recruitment exercise cited. The adverts can be placed on at least one of prominent graduate recruitment websites, which do not charge a fee to jobseekers to view job advertisements or to apply for jobs via those advertisements. The reference to specific media has been removed.
  • Tier 2 (General) applicants sponsored for roles in education, health and social care sectors must secure Overseas Criminal Record Certificates prior to applying.
  • The salary threshold for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications submitted on or after April 2022 is set at £37,900.

 

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) 

  • Closure of the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Short Term Staff category – unless applying in the ICT (Graduate Trainee) category, all ICTs must qualify under the ICT Long Term category, with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 (or the appropriate salary as stipulated in the Codes of Practice, if higher).
  • Removal of the need for ICT Long Term applicants to have worked for the organisation overseas for at least 12 months before applying where paid £73,900 per year or above.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) – Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) migrants will now be subject to the IHS, joining most other visa categories of applications for limited leave to enter or remain in the UK. Applications for this visa category will attract £200 per year the visa is issued for (e.g. £1,000 for a five year Tier 2 (General) visa), including dependants of the main applicant (e.g. £3,000 for a partner and two children applying as dependants), payable at the point of applying for the visa(s).
  • Reduction of “high-earner” salary from £155,300 to £120,000 in the ICT Long Term category, meaning qualifying individuals can stay in the route for up to nine years, rather than the current five years’ maximum.

 

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) 

  • Introduction of Immigration Skills Charge – Tier 2 sponsors will be required to pay Immigration Skills Surcharge of £1,000 (£365 for small or charity-status sponsors) for each year a Tier 2 migrant is to be sponsored for, payable at the point of assigning the individual’s Certificate of Sponsorship (on or after 6 April 2017). For full details, including when exemptions apply, please head to our recent newsletter here. The same applies to Tier 2 (ICT) applicants.
  • Introduction of clarity and consistency as to the types of allowance that may be considered as part of the total package for the purposes of salary minimums under Tier 2 (ICT) category. The following items will be taken into account while calculating the appropriate salary:
    1.   Guaranteed gross basic pay;
    2.   Allowances which are guaranteed to be paid for duration of the applicant’s employment in the UK, and which would be paid to a local settled worker in a similar circumstances, such as London weighting, or are paid as a mobility premium or to cover the additional cost of living in the UK.
    3.   30% of the total package for accommodation allowances for applicants applying under Tier 2 ICT Long-Term category; and 40% of the total package for those applying under Graduate Trainee sub-category.

Any other allowances, including one-off payments, overtime payments, payments which cannot be guaranteed, employee pension contributions, medical benefits etc. will not be taken into account to calculate the appropriate salary.

 

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

  • Introduction of clarity regarding the documentary evidence to demonstrate the employees hired by Tier 1 Entrepreneur have settled status in the UK, as well as specifying evidence of job creation.
  • Minor amendments of a definition of “invested” funds making it clearer and outlining that the applicant can also be a member of a partnership
  • Introduction of clarity for evidential requirements for the applicants investing in a Limited Liability Partnership. It is made clear that the applicant can invest in a Limited Liability Partnership and must, for example, produce financial accounts or any other documents as appropriate relating to UK business which the applicant is running as a member of partnership.

 

Appendix FM (Family Member)

  • Introduction of clarity on calculating income from employment in relation to payment of the costs of UK or overseas travel as well accommodation allowances.
  • It is clarified that “if the applicant is a fianceé or proposed civil partner, neither the applicant nor their partner can be married to, or in a civil partnership with, another person at the date of application”.
  • When relying on income from employment and/or shares in a limited company based in the UK, the specified limited company should be considered the one in which the applicant and/or sponsor (as appropriate) is not necessarily a director, but either a director or employee (or both).

 

Other changes

  • It is clarified that the requirement regarding not having a branch or subsidiary in the UK to qualify for leave under a Representative of an Overseas Business category refers to not having an active branch, subsidiary or other representative.
  • Visitor applications can be made from any overseas designated post to accept such applications regardless of the nationality and right of residence of the applicant.
  • It is confirmed that an applicant may only have one outstanding application for leave to remain at a time. If a new application is submitted while a previous application for leave has not been decided, a new applications will be treated as a variation of the previous leave to remain. Where more than one application is submitted at the same day, all those application will be invalid and will not be considered. The Home Office may contact the applicant and give a single opportunity to withdraw all applications except the one the applicant would prefer to be considered (this should be done within working 10 days of the date on which the notification was sent).
  • The period of overstaying which is permitted before a re-entry ban applies was reduced from 90 days to 30 days. This means that anyone who overstayed for more than 30 days is subject to 12 months re-entry ban. 90 days or less applies, where the overstaying began before 6 April 2017; and 30 days or less applies where the overstating began on or after 6 April 2017.
  • There are some minor changes for Tier 4 applicants – definition of a week is set out to ensure clarity regarding the number of hours a student can work per week. Week is defined as period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.
  • Introduction of clarity regarding documentary evidence for students sponsored by the Government or international agency – only those wholly sponsored by the Government or international scholarship agency must provide an unconditional written consent when switching to Tier 2.
  • Demand for allocations under Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme for Taiwan is expected to significantly exceed supply, therefore additional amendments are made to provide for the operation of arrangements to manage the allocation.
  • The definition of “continuous” for the purposes of residence requirements applying to PBS dependants has been removed.
  • Financial statements from IDFC Bank Ltd in India will be accepted for UK immigration applications.

FSA Immigration Update – UK March 2017

For further information on any part of this newsletter, please contact your dedicated Immigration Consultant via emails on comms@fergusonsnell.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 20 3668 2700.