Changes to Immigration Rules

Untitled PageThe U.K. Government made a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 7th December 2017. The changes are due to take effect at different times over a staggered time period from 28th December 2017 onward.

Some of the key changes has been summarised below:-

Changes relating to Tier 2 (General)

Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses. Currently, non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results.

An exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test is being added to posts to be held by researcher applicants who are recipients of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council.
Pay rates for health sector workers are being brought into line with pay scales in England and each of the devolved administrations and consolidated in a new table.

Provision is being made to allow nurses to be sponsored under Tier 2 if they are undertaking an approved programme with a view to returning to practice.

Changes to indefinite leave to remain in work categories

From 11 January 2018,the requirement of absences from the U.K. of not more than 180 days per year to qualify for settlement will be extended to include partners of the Points-Based System Migrants as well as main applicants unless exempted.

An amendment is being made so that Tier 2 Migrants are no longer required to have been continuously employed throughout the qualifying period to be eligible for settlement. The provision is unnecessary as a Tier 2 migrant who is no longer working for their Sponsor is subject to curtailment.

Changes relating to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

Currently, the job creation rules require jobs to have existed for at least 12 months during the applicant’s most recent period of leave. A change is being made to enable applicants to apply even if their current leave was granted less than 12 months ago; in such cases, the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of the current application.

Clarifications are being made where the funds are currently held by another business, which is not the business the applicant is using to score points, that business is considered to be a third party providing the funding.

To prevent recycling of funds between applicants, a change is being made so that applicants cannot rely on funds or investment that have been provided by another Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, or that migrant’s business or close family member. Who is considered to be a close family member will depend on the facts and circumstances in an individual application.

Furthermore, a clarification is being made to the rule which excludes buying the business from its previous owner from being considered as a qualifying investment, to clarify that this means buying any business from its previous owner.

Changes relating to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The number of available places in this visa category will rise from 1,0 to 2,0 per year. These additional 1,0 places to be made available will not be distributed between the five Designated Competent Bodies (DCBs) at the start of each year but, rather, they will be set aside as a pool of unallocated places that can be accessed on a first-come first-served basis by any DCB that has exhausted its allocation. It also proposes to enable current world leaders in their fields (those endorsed under a DCB’s “exceptional talent” criteria) to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 3 years of continuous residence.

Changes relating to family members of the Points-Based System migrants

The ‘genuine and subsisting’ relationship requirement is being introduced for PBS dependants. Minor technical changes are being made to the rules on maintenance funds –a child applicant of a Points-Based Migrant cannot rely on funds held in a parent’s bank account unless that parent is either the main applicant or currently in the UK.

Changes relating to electronic entry clearance

Home Office is proposing to commence issuing entry clearance in electronic form. This will initially be trialled with specified groups with a view to the general introduction of entry clearance in electronic form at a later date. Currently, the Immigration Rules require an entry clearance to be endorsed in a valid passport or other identity document. The amendment to the rules will allow entry clearance to be issued both in an electronic form and by endorsement in a valid passport or identity document.

Applicants who hold an entry clearance issued in electronic form will not be required to present such an entry clearance to an Immigration Officer on arrival in the UK. The issue of such an entry clearance will be checked electronically.

Changes relating to visitors
Currently, a person holding ‘visitor visa’ can visit the UK for business, tourism, to get married or for other visit purposes. However, they must obtain a separate visa in order to transit the UK. The rules are being introduced which will enable visitors who hold a standard or marriage/civil partnership visit visa to transit the UK without the need to obtain a separate visa. Transit visas will still be available for transit only visits. The rule changes also clarify that visitors will not be permitted to study at an academy or a school maintained by a local authority.

Criminal record certificates
Changes have been made to the wording relating to the obtaining of criminal record certificates, to say the certificates must be obtained from each country where the applicant has been present for 12 months or more in the last 10 years. The wording in the rules has changed from ‘resident’ to ‘present’ and therefore a person who has been present in a country for 12 months or more cumulatively over a 10-year period will need to apply for a criminal record certificate from that country.
Changes relating to domestic workers

The minimum age limit for Overseas Domestic Workers has been increased to ensure that the worker has consented to their employment terms and conditions, and worked under those terms and conditions for a minimum of 12 months, as an adult. Measures have been introduced to prevent overseas diplomats bringing extended family members to the UK in the guise of domestic workers, in order to circumvent the rules governing individuals permitted to accompany diplomats as dependants.

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Major drop in net EU migration after Brexit more than 100,000 less immigrants this year

Net migration to the UK has plummeted by more than 100,000 since the vote for Brexit. The difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and the number of people leaving to live elsewhere fell to 230,000 over the period, down from a peak of 336,000 seen in the year ending June 2016. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people moving to live in Britain long-term had fallen to 230,000, the largest drop since the records began. Nicola White, the ONS' head of migration statistics, said: "There has been a 43% decrease in the number of people immigrating to look for work over the last year, especially for EU citizens."

Analysts have warned of a possible “brain drain” in vital industries with the departure of 123,000 EU citizens since June 2016 – a dramatic increase from 28,000 the previous year, alongside a drop in arrivals from the bloc. Emigration was highest among those from the original group of 15 EU countries including Germany, France and Spain, followed by eight central and eastern European countries including Poland that joined in 2004, and Romania and Bulgaria.

Immigrants no longer feel welcome in the UK due to rise in hate crime and violence, UK is less attractive to the immigrants
Around 128,000 British people also left the UK in the year to June, with some saying the EU referendum had driven them to move abroad, or apply for citizenship from other countries including Ireland. Maike Bohn, a founding member of EU citizens’ group - The 3 Million, said more people would leave until the Government provides certainty over their status over Brexit. He said, “This trend will continue as the hostile environment bites more and more.”

Analysts at research body the UK in a Changing Europe said the country had become a “less attractive place for European migrants” even more so because of the curbs to freedom of movement. Professor Jonathan Portes said the stark figures were partly because of the slowing economy and falling value of the pound, and partly because of the “wider social and political impacts of the Brexit vote”. “Whatever your views on the impact of immigration, it cannot be good news that the UK is a less attractive place to live and work, and that we will be poorer as a result,” he added. The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, Ed Davey, said immigration was falling because of the “catastrophic consequences of the Government taking Britain out of the world’s largest single market”. “The Conservative pursuit of an extreme Brexit is crashing the economy and making the country a less attractive place to be,” he added.

Government committed to bringing decrease in net migration levels
Immigration minister Brandon Lewis, said, "We're determined to ensure the United Kingdom remains open for business attracting the brightest and best, and the most able from around the world.
"That's why it's good to see our visas for entrepreneurs and investors in the United Kingdom are up. Our visa applications for students are up. And our visa applications for visitors are also up, with a record number of passengers coming to the UK as tourists and to study here and to work here."
Brandon added that the Government would continue reforming routes from outside Europe and will negotiate the “right deal” in Brexit negotiations. “We have been clear we want to attract and retain people who come to our country to work and bring significant benefits to the UK. With more Europeans continuing to arrive than leave, these figures show that claims of a ‘Brexodus’ are misguided,” he added. “At the same time, there is no consent for uncontrolled immigration. We welcome the ongoing decrease in net migration levels and remain committed to bringing them down to sustainable levels, the tens of thousands."

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Immigration minister Brandon Lewis assured swift processing of ‘settled status’ applications for EU immigrants

Brandon Lewis, immigration minister, told MPs that post Brexit, the processing time for every application will come down to weeks, instead of months in the current system. He told the Commons home affairs select committee that an extra 1,200 UK visas and immigration staff were being recruited to process an expected 3.5 m applications from EU nationals over two and a half years. He also confirmed that those who have been refused “settled status” and classed as non-EU nationals in Britain illegally could have their bank accounts frozen and face deportation before the hearing of any appeal in British courts.

As easy to apply and process as a driving license

Lewis said that EU “settled status” applicants, subject to the outcome of the negotiations, would have to verify their identity, pass a criminality check and establish five years’ residence in the UK. The Home Office would use existing HMRC tax/DWP national insurance databases to verify applications. Applicants would not have to submit their passports to prove residence. He insisted the Home Office was adopting a "different cultural approach" to dealing with applications for settled status, with a presumption that applicants were likely to be allowed to stay.Cases should be dealt wicath within a couple of weeks - and he hoped the new process would be as simple to use as applying for a driving licence via the DVLA.

Labour’s MP Yvette Cooper expresses her doubts

Yvette Cooper warned that the Home Office's record of mistakes in immigration cases meant many would take little reassurance from his words. Ms Cooper, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, pointed to a recent case when 106 EU nationals were wrongly sent letters ordering them to leave the country."MPs don't currently have the greatest of confidence in the casework capacity of the Home Office and the way it makes decisions," she said.

Lewis defends his case

Lewis said the Home Office swiftly accepted a mistake was made with the letters, and said all those affected were contacted within 24 hours to reassure them they had been sent in error. "We can say to people that they can have confidence in the system we are developing for next year, not just because of the resources we are putting into it, but because it is a different approach in terms of the presumption that we are granting status," he told the committee.

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EU immigrants who become British citizens can bring their non-EU spouses, rules the European Court of Justice (ECJ)

In a landmark case, the European court of justice ruled that EU citizens who become British can bring non-EU spouses to the UK. In Case C-165/16 Toufik Lounes v Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Court found that the British government had breached the rights of a dual British-Spanish citizen seeking to have her Algerian husband live with her in the UK by denying him permanent residency.

The case details
Ms Ormazabal, a Spanish national, moved to the UK as a student in 1996. She has been working there full time since 2004 and resides there. She became a naturalised British citizen in 2009 and also retained her Spanish nationality.

Mr Toufik Lounes, an Algerian national, entered the UK in 2010 on a six-month visitor visa and then overstayed illegally.
In 2014, Mr Lounes and Ms Ormazabal married. Following their marriage, Mr Lounes applied for the issue of a residence card as a family member of an EEA (European Economic Area) national.

By letter of 22 May 2014, the Secretary of State for the Home Department informed Mr Lounes that his application had been refused. The letter stated that, under the UK legislation transposing the free movement directive, [1] Ms Ormazabal had ceased to be regarded as an 'EEA national' following her acquisition of British citizenship. Mr Lounes could not therefore claim a residence card as a family member of an EEA national.

Mr Lounes brought a claim before the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, Queen's Bench Division (Administrative Court), against the decision of 22 May, 2014. The High Court has doubts as to the compatibility of that decision and the UK legislation with EU law and has referred a question on that issue to the Court of Justice.

The court’s judgement
In the judgment, the Court ruled:

•    The directive confers autonomous rights derived from the rights which the EU citizen concerned enjoys as a result of having exercised his/her freedom of movement.

•    EU citizens who move to or reside in a 'Member State other than that of which they are a national', and their family members who accompany or join them, are beneficiaries of the rights conferred by the directive.

•    The directive governs only the conditions determining whether an EU citizen can enter and reside in Member States other than that of which he is a national

•    It does not confer a derived right of residence on non-EU nationals, family members of an EU citizen, in the Member State of which that citizen is a national.

In the present case it is undisputed that Ms Ormazabal exercised her freedom of movement when she left Spain to move to the UK in 1996; nor is it disputed that she was a 'beneficiary' of the directive until she acquired British citizenship. The Court points out, however, that, since then, she has been living in one of the Member States of which she is a national and, in accordance with international law, has an unconditional right of residence there.

The inference and effects of this case before Brexit

The ruling has implications for EU nationals applying for UK citizenship and those already married or planning to marry non-EU citizens.
“This is great news for European nationals living in the UK who have non-European family members,” Gemma Goodhead, a lawyer with the London and St Albans law firm SA Law, as told to The Brief. “By extending the European treaty rights to those who have naturalised to become dual British-European nationals, it will likely result in those who previously could not apply to become British citizens, at the risk of their family members losing their rights to remain in the UK, to naturalise as British.”

Goodhead also claimed that the ruling would benefit qualifying citizens of European Economic Area countries in advance of the UK leaving the EU. “They can become British before the Brexit date in which their current status is ambiguously balancing on a deal being agreed upon between the UK and other member states,” she said. “We don’t know what will happen after Brexit and whether this judgment will continue to be relevant but, for now, this is great news for those affected.”

Immigration barrister Colin Yeo, an expert on freedom of movement told to The Guardian, “the ruling would probably not guarantee family rights for an EU citizen who became a citizen of another member state and renounced or lost citizenship of the EU member state from which they had moved. This was not at issue in this case and therefore it would be open to legal argument.”

Ormazábal’s barrister Parminder Saini described the judgment as an “important milestone” as it showed the ECJ held the view that “the interpretation of European law on free movement should go beyond the terms of the directive on free movement” and “should where necessary safeguard the free movement of families and the lives and ties they develop as they migrate within the union and put down roots”.

The ECJ ruled that the European directive governing Ormazábal’s rights did cease to govern her residence in the UK. However, it concluded that her husband had a “derived right” under freedom of movement rules. It said that if the freedom of movement rules were to be effective, European citizens such as Ormazábal, who move to another member state and acquire citizenship of the country, must be able to continue to have the right to build a family.

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Amber Rudd urges to exclude students from UK’s net immigration target

Home secretary Amber Rudd wants the international students to be removed from the government’s target to reduce net migration. She is leading a new cabinet push to students out of the count,in order to avoid the government suffering a defeat next year when the House of Commons considers a bill to set up a post-Brexit immigration regime.

Theresa May unsupportive of the idea to remove students from the net migration target

Theresa May has always opposed the idea to remove students from the net migration target. Though she never got complete support from her ministers. In April,the government had rejected a Lords amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill asking for removal of students from the net migration target. But Amber Rudd is positive that this time the bill might get support from many. According to The Financial Times,she has support from colleagues including chancellor Philip Hammond,foreign secretary Boris Johnson and business secretary Greg Clark.

We need an immigration system that allows universities to continue to recruit the best students from around the world

Sarah Stevens,head of policy at the Russell Group,said that the government should support the option of removing students from the net migration target,adding that universities “need an immigration system that allows universities to continue to recruit the best students from around the world”.

“International students help create a diverse learning environment that benefits home students. The bonds international students make at university help boost UK soft power across the globe and they make a significant economic contribution too,” she said.

“Every seven international students who start an undergraduate degree at a Russell Group university generate £1 million in economic impact for the UK. They help support the delivery of high-quality teaching in our universities and create jobs across the economy.”

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Post Brexit, 11 percent less visas granted to overseas businesses looking to open branch in the UK

The number of visas granted to overseas businesses looking to open a branch in the UK has dropped from 140 to 125, that is 11% drop, said Collyer Bristow, the leading law firm. This means that Brexit could potentially affect the desirability of UK as a business destination. Collier Bristow says many of the businesses looking up to open a UK branch are in fast-growth sectors such as digital technology. Their research pointed that the countries from which the most individuals were granted overseas business visas were the US and Australia, with 20 visas each granted in the last year. The remaining top 3 were China, India, and Japan, with respectively 15,15 and 10 visas.

Why less visas were granted to overseas businesses?

Collier Bristow says that the drop might be due to Home Office becoming stricter when reviewing applications after Brexit vote as well as Theresa May reiterating about the net migration target. Moreover, the Government has often done little to actively promote the overseas business visa category. As a result, awareness of its existence across the world is not as high as it potentially could be, ultimately impacting overall applicant numbers and successful application submissions.”

Effects: UK might lose out on large amounts of investment and tax revenues

James Badcock, Partner at Collyer Bristow says,“The drop in overseas business visas granted could mean the UK misses out on large amounts of investment and tax revenue. More visas have been applied for year on year, but far fewer have been granted since the Brexit vote. Overseas business visas can serve a valuable function in attracting high-profit businesses from other countries to the UK and can help to encourage trade, investment, innovation, and competition. However, the Government seems to be reluctant to promote the use of overseas business visas.”

“Additionally, for the Entrepreneur visa for example, the Home Office makes a subjective decision as to whether the applicant is a genuine entrepreneur. However, an overseas business visa has no subjective element, so take-up and success should, in theory, be greater. We recently successfully re-applied for a client whose application had been rejected incorrectly.”

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Immigrants will pay upfront charges for NHS services

Immigrants and visitors to the UK will have to pay NHS charges upfront,if they avail services during their stay.New rule has come into force which makes it mandatory for the medical staff to establish whether patients are eligible for state funded healthcare or not,before providing any treatment.This system has been established to counter “health tourism”.

The patients who are not covered under NHS will have to pay an upfront charge that is currently set at 150%of the cost to providers.However,the Department of Health stated that upfront charges would only apply for planned,elective treatments,and that no one would be denied accident and emergency care or maternity services – although some of these can be charged for retrospectively.

The charges to overseas visitors regulation amendment,2017

National Health Service(charges to overseas visitors)(amendment)regulations 2017,a piece of secondary legislation that passed parliament with no debate,all organisations receiving NHS funding must now charge ineligible patients before they are treated.The charging regime will also be extended to services such as health visiting,school nursing,community midwifery,community mental health services,termination of pregnancy services,district nursing,support groups,advocacy services,and specialist services for homeless people and asylum seekers.

Health minister James O’Shaughnessy said:“The NHS is a cherished national institution that is paid for by British taxpayers.

“We have no problem with overseas visitors using our NHS as long as they make a fair financial contribution,just as the British taxpayer does.The new regulations simply require NHS bodies to make inquiries about,and then charge,those who aren’t entitled to free NHS care.All the money raised goes back into funding and improving care for NHS patients.”

Lord O’Shaughnessy added:“We are clear that some vulnerable groups are exempt from charging and the NHS will never withhold urgent and immediately necessary treatment.”

Healthcare professionals unclear about whom to give treatment under NHS

The healthcare professionals are unsure about how to ascertain which patients are eligible for free treatment under NHS.A survey of healthcare professionals in north-west England carried out by Medact Manchester found almost two-thirds(62%)of respondents thought failed asylum seekers were ineligible for free primary care,with another third(30%)believing failed asylum seekers were not entitled to free emergency NHS care.“It is clear that NHS staff do not have the training and support they need to correctly identify who is and isn’t entitled to healthcare,” Dr Ruth Wiggans,co-chair of Medact Manchester,said.“What we’ll see as a result is people who should be receiving NHS care being wrongly turned away or simply being too worried to seek help themselves.”

Identification-checking scheme to be implemented across NHS centers

A pilot identification-checking scheme currently implemented at 20 NHS trusts might be extended across all centers where the patients will have to produce passports and driving licenses to guarantee receiving treatment they are entitled to.

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Grenfell Tower survivors to be offered permanent UK residency

The Home Office has declared that the survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster whose immigration statuses are uncertain are to be allowed the opportunity to become permanent residents in the UK.

The Government said that individuals affected by the fire will have the chance to gain permanent residence as long as they pass security and criminality checks.

A one-year immigration amnesty was initially granted for foreign national survivors of the June 14 inferno and they have now been given a route to settlement.

Mr. Brandon Lewis, Immigration minister said the 12 months' limited leave, granted to eligible individuals who come forward by November 30, will now be extendable and lead to a permanent right to stay in the UK after five years, subject to meeting security, criminality and fraud checks.

"The Government believes it is right to provide the specific group of survivors who are eligible for limited leave to remain under the dedicated immigration policy greater certainty over their long-term future in the UK, subject to their continued eligibility and the necessary security and criminality and fraud checks being met."

Mr. Lewis said that – "This new dedicated immigration policy allows relatives who have come to the UK and who were initially granted less than six months' leave in order to provide a short period of support a survivor or to arrange the funeral of a family member to extend their stay to six months in total." 

The shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, said the government had still not run for enough and called for the immediate right to indefinite leave to remain to be awarded to all survivors.

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Weaker economy and higher inflation due to Brexit, warns Governor Carney of Bank of England

Mark Carney, governor of Bank of England, said in his recent speech at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, that Brexit may result in a weaker economy, higher inflation, and higher interest rates. Carney’s comments came after the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) issued a surprise warning that it could raise interest rates as early as November. Carney assured that though Brexit may cause inflation but the rate-setting panel will take necessary action to curb such trends.

Carney warned that Brexit is a step towards de-globalisation that will hamper UK’s economic growth. He said that "It will proceed rapidly not slowly. Its effects will not build by stealth but can be anticipated." If there is a fall in the number of immigrants coming to the UK, it could also push up inflation and force the banks to raise their borrowing rates. He said that "Abrupt decreases in migration could result in shortages in some sectors that have become reliant on migrant labour, and contribute more materially to inflationary pressures.” 

He added, that while economic growth remained relatively resilient so far, it could take many years for the full impact of the transition to be felt by the UK economy, pointing out that any fall in the value of the currency could take as long as four years to feed into domestic prices.

Carney said,” If the economy continues to follow a path consistent with the prospect of a continued erosion of slack and a gradual rise in underlying inflationary pressure then, with the further lessening in the trade-off that this would imply, some withdrawal of monetary stimulus is likely to be appropriate over the coming months in order to return inflation sustainably to target.”

However, Carney also suggested that “wages could rise faster if the UK left the EU, suggesting the Phillips Curve could steepen as a result.” Philips curve is a measure of the trade-off between inflation and employment.

Carney spoke about effects of trade as well. He ruled out that Britain would be able to offset any loss of trade ties with the EU by striking new agreements with other countries, as it will take time for businesses to adapt to any new rules.

The reduction and reorientation of trade is “likely to weigh on productivity for some time”, he said, while the actual impact will depend on how quickly any lost access to Europe is replaced by other arrangements. The governor also pointed to an increase in UK exports that only go to manufacturers in the EU, before being sold on to end buyers. This has the potential to limit Britain’s ability to trade directly with other countries. “The UK doesn’t so much export to Europe as through Europe; it is a supplier of components to final goods that are exported beyond the continent,” he said. 

Carney stated that there was only so much the Bank could do with interest rates. He said, "It is critical to recognise that Brexit represents a real shock about which monetary policy can do little. "Monetary policy cannot prevent the weaker real incomes likely to accompany the move to new trading arrangements with the EU, but it can influence how this hit to incomes is distributed between job losses and price rises. And it can support UK households and businesses as they adjust to such profound change." 

On balance, he said inflation remains likely to overshoot the Bank’s 2% target over the next three years, forcing the MPC’s hand. Other central banks around the world are also seeking to raise interest rates, which means “the case for a modest monetary tightening is reinforced”. He added that ” Any prospective increases in bank rate would be expected to be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent, and to be consistent with monetary policy continuing to provide substantial support to the economy." 

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Leave voters want skilled immigrants to stay, want cap on unskilled immigrants from EU

A report from the British Future think tank released on Monday showed that 63% of those polled support a cap on unskilled immigrants coming to Britain. A majority of voters want a cap on unskilled immigration into the UK after Brexit, but want skilled workers to be allowed to enter the UK at the same level as before, with 82% of Leave voters saying they are happy for high-skilled migration from the EU "to remain at current levels or increase”.

The research also reveals that 64% of all voters believe the Government should scrap its target of reducing net migration to the UK to below 100,000, and instead replace it with separate aims for skilled and unskilled workers.

Which unskilled immigrants do the Leave Voters want to see in the UK?


Brexit and immigration

British Future said that Brexit is the opportunity to "get things right on immigration" and that the vote was a "reset moment" that can be used to create a new system which has the support of the British public. 

Conservative MP Nicky Morgan and chair of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee said, "This research shows that the immigration debate is much more nuanced than it is often portrayed, that people do appreciate the benefits immigration can bring but it is also clear that a discussion on community cohesion and integration must sit alongside the wider immigration debate.”


Britain’s immigration policy might see reforms

Doctors, care-workers and fruit-pickers should be able to come to the UK after Brexit in at least the same numbers as they currently do, according to Leave voters. Leave voters want to put a cap on the unskilled migrants. They want to see fewer waiters and bar staff from the EU. Leave voters were mostly against migrants bringing extended family with them to the UK, with 75% wanting to see a decrease in these figures. 57% were also against immediate family coming to the UK as well.


The Government is yet to reveal which immigration system it will adopt post-Brexit, but Theresa May has already ruled out an Australian-style points based system. She intends to continue with the current freedom of movement rules.

Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said, "Leaving the EU will mean changes  in Britain’s immigration policy. Reforms are needed if we are to deliver the ultimate prize of a higher-wage, higher-skilled economy.”


The Director of British Future Sunder Katwal said, ”A new post-Brexit immigration system that differentiates between skilled and low-skilled EU immigration sounds like common sense to most people. They can see that we need doctors, engineers and other professionals but they want more control over low-skilled immigration. Even there, the public knows we need people to pick the fruit and veg, build more houses and care for the elderly.”

The polling in the report was carried out by ICM, who surveyed 3,657 GB adults, between 9-16 June 2017.

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Offer to EU citizens living in the UK has been branded as 'damp squib' by the European Parliament

The European Parliament has branded Theresa May’s proposals on EU citizens’ rights a “damp squib” and said they'll not approve a Brexit offer that will not offer more.

A letter jointly penned by European Parliament Brexit Chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt and the leaders of four of the parliament's main groups said that the proposal was a "damp squib". Mr. Verhofstadt said, “In the EU proposal, British people and Europeans keep the same rights and the same level of protection they currently enjoy under European law”. However, he added that the UK Government proposes that the day after Brexit, the EU nationals would get fewer privileges in the United Kingdom than UK citizens are offered throughout the EU. He said that this will create red tape and uncertainty for millions of people.

It creates a kind of second class citizenship for EU nationals living in the UK. Mr. Verhofstadt said "We don't see why their rights should be diminished and that would be the case in the proposal.

"In the end, it is the European Parliament that will say yes or no, and I can tell you it not will be a yes if the rights of European citizens - and also the rights of UK citizens living on the continent - will be diminished [and] cut off, like it is at the moment."

Mr. Verhofstadt also made it clear that there can be no extension to the 31 March 2019 deadline.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the Government’s approach had “turned our closest allies against us”. He said: “Theresa May has gambled and lost. She tried to use EU citizens as bargaining chips and they’ve called her bluff. 

A UK government spokesman told the BBC: "We have always said we want a reciprocal arrangement that allows EU citizens to continue to live their lives in the UK broadly as they do now, which is why we set out our proposal to guarantee their rights with a new 'settled status'."

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UK Govt reveals plans to protect 3.2 million Europeans living here

The UK Government has given assurance to all EU citizens who have been living in the UK for five years will be able to remain and keep rights equivalent to those of the Britons.

Anybody who moves to Britain before a cut-off date - set to be between March 29 2017 and March 29, 2019 - will be permitted to stay and gain 'settled status' following five years.

But after UK Officially leaves the bloc, the EU citizens Will face the very same rules as Britons that want to bring in spouses - meaning that they will need to be earning over £18,600 and demonstrate the spouses can speak English.

European nationals also face a system of ID cards so they can access public services in the future.

Theresa May has told EU citizens they have to bring family members to Britain before Brexit or would be subject to the same rules as those joining British citizens. 

The Government rejected calls from the EU that the rights of citizens to be upheld by the European Court of Justice.

Following the PM's statement, the European Commission's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted: "EU goal on #citizensrights: same level of protection as in EU law. More ambition, clarity and guarantees needed than in today's UK position."

Meanwhile, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt wrote: "A number of limitations remain worrisome and will have to be carefully assessed."


Key points in the Govt’s offer for EU Citizens:

  1. EU citizens applying for "settled status" will have to bring over dependants prior to the UK's exit from the EU. Post Brexit, dependents will be subject to the normal UK immigration laws.

  2. EU citizens having "settled status" will continue to have access to UK benefits identical UK national.

  1. EU citizens who don't have five years' residence at the time of UK’s exit from the UK, but are on "pathway" to settled status will be able to access the same benefits as now - equal access for those in work and limited benefit access for unemployed.

  1. The Government will make new rights in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident here or before exit. This will be enforced by UK courts. The European Court of Justice will not have jurisdiction in the UK.

  1. EU citizens will no longer have the right to vote in the local elections.

  1. EU nationals will be allowed to keep sending their UK benefits to other EU nations, for example child benefit - if they were already doing so before the "cutoff date".

  1. The UK will continue to pay out state pension within the EU to qualifying EU nationals.

  1. The UK will protect healthcare arrangements for EU citizens who arrive in the UK before the "cut-off date" for UK nationals living in the EU.

  1. The UK will continue to protect UK, European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) so that British citizens may continue to gain from complimentary temporary health care whilst in the EU.

  1. EU citizens who arrived before the "cut-off Date" will continue to be eligible for student loans, and also "house Fee" status identical to persons with settled status in the United Kingdom.


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Theresa May offers full residency rights to EU citizens living in the UK

EU nationals living in the UK will be given the right to stay permanently after Brexit and treated like British citizens, Mrs Theresa May told European leaders last night. Any EU citizen in the UK with five years residence at the cut-off date will be granted UK settled status.

Mrs May made a clear commitment that “no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave the country at the point that the UK leaves the EU, and all EU citizens lawfully here at the point the UK leaves will have the opportunity to regularise their status to remain in the country.”

She said: “This position represents a fair and serious offer – and one aimed at giving as much certainty as possible to citizens who have settled in the UK, building careers and lives, and contributing so much to our society.”

However, she insisted that it is “vital” that any deal will have to be “reciprocal” arrangement based on the European Union granting the one million British citizens who live in the Europe the same rights.

Theresa May refused to meet EU demands that the “cut-off date”, after which EU citizens will no longer automatically be entitled to stay in the UK, should fall on the day that Britain leaves the European Union. The cut-off date will be decided through negotiation and could fall at any point between March 29 2017, the date that Article 50 was triggered, and the date that Britain leaves the European Union, which is expected to be in March 2019.

All those arriving after the “cut-off date” will be given a two year “grace period” after UK exits from EU and will be subsequently expected to regularise their status by obtaining a work permit or return to their home countries. Once they regularise their status they will be entitled to a special category of “settled status”, conferring the same rights to work, pensions, NHS care and other public services as British citizens, which they will maintain for life.

After the grace period has elapsed, newly arriving EU citizens will be subject to whatever immigration system replaces freedom of movement after Brexit.

Mrs May also refused demands that the European Court of Justice should continue to oversee the rights of EU migrants after Brexit. She said: “The commitment that we make to EU citizens will be enshrined in EU law and enforced through our highly-respected courts”.

The prime minister's proposals were welcomed by her fellow European leaders.  Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, called May’s offer a “good start” but said many other issues related to Britain’s departure from the bloc still need to be resolved.

“Theresa May made clear to us today that EU citizens that have been in Britain for five years will retain their full rights. That is a good start,” Merkel told reporters. “But there are still many other questions linked to the exit, including on finances and the relationship with Ireland. So we have a lot to do until (the next EU summit in) October.”

UK’s Chancellor, Mr Philip Hammond said the government will make the economy the top priority in talks, and could agree to transitional arrangements lasting up to four years, to avoid the country being driven over a “cliff edge” as a result of the talks.

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Pledge to Increase earnings threshold for spouse visa - Conservative manifesto

One of the manifesto that Theresa May launched is to increase the earnings threshold for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas for those coming from outside the EU.

Conservatives, if elected on 8th June 2017, would hike the minimum income requirement already attacked as “particularly harsh” by Supreme Court justices in Feb 2017.

The current income threshold to bring in spouses is £18,600 which was introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary. This rule has been blamed for inflicting a harsh choice of separation or living in exile on British families.

The manifesto reads: “We will increase the earnings thresholds for people wishing to sponsor migrants for family visas.” But it does not set out a new minimum amount.

Labour has said it would scrap the threshold, stating it does not believe that “family life should be protected only for the wealthy”.

Among other immigration manifestos, companies employing migrant workers would see the Immigration Skills Charge doubled to £2,000-a-year by the end of the parliament.

Overseas students would remain in the immigration statistics and within scope of the Government’s policy to reduce annual net migration. The students are expected to leave the country at the end of their course, unless they meet a new higher requirement that allow them to work in Britain after their studies have concluded.

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European Court to decide curtailment of the rights of British dual nationals

The European court of Justice will decide a case that could affect all EU citizens applying for British passports. The court will consider whether the UK government has breached the family rights of a dual British-Spanish citizen seeking to have her Algerian husband live with her in the UK.

The case was brought following a decision by the UK Home Office to refuse a dual British-Spanish citizen the right to have her husband, an Algerian citizen, lives with her in the UK. The Spanish national had come to the UK exercising her rights under the European treaty on freedom of movement. She acquired permanent residence and then British citizenship. However, she also retained her Spanish citizenship, which she believed enabled her to have her husband, Toufik Lounes, join her.

Her husband applied for a residence card as a partner of an EU national exercising treaty rights in the UK. The Home Office refused his application on the grounds that she could not rely on her EU freedom of movement rights, which include the right to bring in a family member, as she was a British national as well as an EU national.

She took the Home Office to court, but in March 2016 the High court referred this case to the European court of Justice to decide whether the UK Government decision was lawful.

Parminder Saini, an immigration barrister and counsel for Lounes, said the case would be a “milestone in the interplay between EU law and European case law on free movement and the UK’s domestic interpretation of that law”.

He said it would have wider implications for every EU state as it concerns the ability of any EU member state to curtail freedom of movement rights under their domestic law.

“If the UK’s interpretation of the law is correct, it shall mean that all EU nationals living in the UK, who have also acquired dual British nationality, will no longer be able to rely on their free movement rights after gaining British nationality, as they will no longer be recognised by the UK as EU citizens in that context,” said Saini.

The preliminary opinion of the advocate general of the European court is due on 30 May and a judgment to be published in the summer.

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Introduction of Criminal record certificate

From 6th April 2017, UK Home Office introduced a requirement of providing a ‘criminal record certificate’ for entry clearance applications for applicants applying as a Tier 2 (General) migrant coming to work in the health, education and social care sectors; as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant and as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant.

This certificate will confirm an individual’s criminal record is usually issued by the police or by an appropriate law enforcement agency. A certificate will include information about an individual’s criminal record, including any past offences, and information relating to recent arrests which are pending further action such as prosecution. The certificate will also confirm that the individual does not have a criminal record.

Tier 2 (General) entry clearance applicants who are subject to the criminal record certificate requirement are determined by the standard occupational classification (SOC) code attributed to their employment role in the UK. This will provide additional safeguards where a migrant’s job involves working closely with children and vulnerable people.

This requirement also extends to the entry clearance application as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner of a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 2 (Investor) and Tier 2 (General) migrant working in health, education and social care sectors.

Certificates should be from the applicant's most recent country of residence and should be issued within the last 6-month period prior to the application submission. Certificates from countries prior to applicants most recent country of residence must normally cover the entire period they were resident there (up to ten years or less if the applicant is aged 18 to 27 prior to the application date) but will otherwise be considered valid indefinitely.

A criminal record certificate is required for each country except for the UK. 

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Changes to the UK Immigration Rules Announced

On 16th March 2017, the UK Government announced statement of changes to the UK Immigration Rules. The major changes that have been announced are the following: -

Changes relating to applications and validity

  • Paragraph 34(9)(a)(ii) of Part 1 has been changed to clarify that an applicant must make an appointment as part of the application process within 45 business days, rather than 45 calendar days. This gives an applicant a longer period of time to make an appointment;
  • A new paragraph 34BB is being added to provide that an applicant can only have one outstanding application for leave to remain at a time, and that any subsequent application for leave, submitted when an applicant already has an outstanding previous application which has not yet been decided, will be treated as a variation of the previous application. If an applicant submits more than one application on the same date, all the applications will be invalid unless the Secretary of State writes to the applicant asking them to withdraw one or more of the applications and the applicant responds in the specified time confirming which application(s) they will withdraw. 

Changes relating to Tier 1 of the Points-Based System

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

Tier 1 (entrepreneur) technical changes to drafting and certain evidential requirements, including an amended definition of ‘invested funds’ and changes in the evidential requirements for applicants who have invested in a LLP, to the specified evidence on job creation and to the specified evidence to demonstrate settled status of employees to confirm jobs created for settled workers.

Tier 1 (General)

The Tier 1 (General) category was closed to new applicants in April 2011 and for extension applications in April 2015, but remains open for indefinite leave to remain applications. A minor change is being made to the time allowed for applicants to respond to requests for further information (from 28 working days to 28 calendar days), to correct a drafting error and for consistency with other categories.

Changes relating to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

Tier 2 (General)

The following changes are being made:-

  •  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;
  •  Exemption from Resident Labour Market Test and restricted Certificate of Sponsorship requirement for relocation of high value business or new inward investment project where sponsor is newly-registered (within last 3 years) branch or subsidiary of an overseas business and involves capital expenditure of £27million or 21 new UK jobs;
  • Changes are being made to the Shortage Occupation List following a separate review by the MAC on teaching shortages, published on 26 January 2017. Secondary school teachers in mathematics and physics are being retained on the list. Secondary school teachers in chemistry are being removed from the list. Secondary school teachers in combined science (where there is an element of physics teaching), computer science and Mandarin are being added to the list;
  •  Annual updates to salary thresholds for high earners and ILR applications based on average weekly earnings data;
  • Tier 4 Students must have satisfied certain study requirements during their continuous stay in the UK to switch into Tier 2 (General) in the UK. A change is being made to also allow Tier 4 Students who have spent time in the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Guernsey or the Bailiwick of Jersey in an eligible category since meeting those study requirements to switch into Tier 2 (General) in the UK.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))

As with Tier 2 (General), a number of changes are being made in response to the review of Tier 2 by the MAC, and have been previously announced. The changes include:

  • The Short-Term Staff sub-category is being closed;
  • The salary threshold for senior transferees who are able to extend their total stay in the category to up to nine years is being reduced, from £155,300 to £120,000;
  • The requirement for transferees to have at least one year’s experience working for the sponsor’s linked entity overseas is being removed for applicants paid £73,900 or above.


Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT)

The following changes are being made to both the Tier 2 (General) and the Tier 2 (ICT) categories in response to the review by the MAC:

  • Changes are being made relating to the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge, to enable a Certificate of Sponsorship to be considered invalid (and therefore for an application to be refused) if any charge which applies is not paid in full;
  • Changes are being made following the MAC’s recommendation that the use of allowances in Tier 2 be reviewed. Changes are being made to provide greater clarity and consistency as to which types of allowance will be considered against the salary requirements. In addition, the closure of the ICT Short Term Staff sub-category means that accommodation allowances can form a maximum of 30% (rather than 40%) of the total salary package for all ICT workers (except Graduate Trainees).


Changes relating to Tier 4 of the Points-Based System

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;
  • 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. An amendment is being made to extend the time limit to 3 years for courses which are below degree level, but which are subject to a regulatory requirement by the Maritime and Coastguard agency that the applicant must spend at least 12 months at sea;
  • Under Tier 4 (General), all applicants aged 16 and over are required to satisfy the Secretary of State that they are a genuine student. To ensure consistency between the routes, an amendment is being made to Tier 4 (Child) to apply the Genuine Student Rule to those applicants who are aged 16 and over;
  • Under Tier 4 (General), loan funds for maintenance purposes must be made available to the applicant before they travel to the UK. An amendment is being made to allow loan funds to be paid directly to the educational institution in the UK with the living costs portion of the loan released to the applicant before or on arrival in the UK. This change is being made because loans paid directly to educational institutions are deemed to provide sufficient security and evidence that the student has the requisite means to support themselves while studying in the UK;
  • An amendment is being made to clarify that where an applicant is applying for leave to undertake an intercalated bachelor’s or master’s degree course or PhD where they are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as their principal course of study, or to complete their principal course, having completed a period of intercalation, they are exempt from the requirement to show academic progression. 

Changes relating to Grounds for refusal

The period of overstaying permitted before a re-entry ban is imposed is reduced from 90 days to 30 days.  No re-entry ban is imposed where a person leaves the UK voluntarily at their own expense and overstaying began before 06 April 2017 and was for 90 days or less, or where the overstaying began on or after 06 April 2017 and was for 30 days or less.

Certain periods of overstaying are disregarded in the calculation of the time:

  • Overstaying of up to 28 days where, prior to 24 November 2016, an application for leave was made during that time and any following period pending the determination of that application, any related appeal or administrative review;
  • Overstaying to which para 39E on out of time applications on or after 24 November 2016 applied and any following period pending the determination of any related appeal or administrative review;
  • Overstaying arising from a decision of the Secretary of State which is subsequently withdrawn, quashed or which a court or tribunal has required her to reconsider, unless the challenge was brought more than 3 months from the date of the decision.

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Post-Brexit 5-year work UK visas planned

The British government is considering a five-year post-Brexit visa scheme that would allow more foreign employees – including those in the tech sector – to work in the UK.

Ministers are reportedly considering plans to limit benefits for new immigrants and give multi-year visas for migrant workers in key sectors as part of an effort to bring the migration down to the tens of thousands.

A time-limited visa would only be granted to those arriving in the UK with a job, it would seem along the lines of the working visas currently issued to non-EU nationals

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) would be advising the Government on how many visas, according to The Sunday Times. The MAC would decide how many visas need to be issued for workers in key industries such as software engineering, health and social care, farming and hospitality, which are heavily reliant on immigrants.

According to The Sunday Times, a minister said: “The simplest way is to have five-year visas. You’re welcome to come if you have a job where we need you, but you don’t get benefits and then you leave.”

Home secretary Amber Rudd, meanwhile, confirmed free movement of labour – one of the core principles of the EU – would come to an end under Brexit.

According to the newspaper, Mrs May will also attempt to guarantee the rights of all EU nationals who are resident in the UK on the day she triggers Article 50 to begin exit negotiations, if she can get a similar agreement for British expats in Europe.

A Government spokesman said: "We said we would use the opportunity of leaving the European Union to take control of our immigration system and we will do exactly that. Our plans will be published in due course but this is just speculation."

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UK Supreme Court upholds minimum income requirement for the spouse visa

The Government's "minimum income" immigration requirement does not breach human rights legislation, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Since the new rules were introduced in July 2012, the UK partner -- a British citizen or settled person -- must have a minimum annual income of at least £18,600 for their spouse to live with them, if the spouse comes from outside the European Economic Area.

Previous rules only required the couple to show that they could support themselves without the need of state help in the form of public funds.

Four couples challenged the rules on the grounds that they breached their human right to a family life.

Handing down their ruling, the Supreme Court justices upheld the "Minimum Income Requirement" rules, saying they did not violate human rights legislation.

The Supreme Court said the minimum income requirement had caused significant hardship to many, but ruled that in principle it was not inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The fact that a rule causes hardship to many, including some who are in no way to blame for the situation in which they now find themselves, does not mean that it is incompatible with the Convention rights or otherwise unlawful at common law," the court said.

The court said the current rules did not adequately account for the protection of children or the possibility that alternative sources of funding be allowed other than the income of the Briton.

"These are significant victories for families up and down the country," said Saira Grant, Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

"This judgment confirms that the government's position is now untenable and they must now take immediate steps to protect the welfare of children in accordance with their legal duty."


A Home Office spokesman said the court had endorsed the government's approach, but it was "carefully considering what the court has said in relation to exceptional cases where the income threshold has not been met, particularly where the case involves a child."

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Changes to the UK Immigration rules for the year 2017

Last year, the UK Government announced number of changes to the UK Immigration Rules which are due to come into effect this year. The major changes that have been announced are the following: -

Changes to the Tier 2 (General)


The following changes are to be implemented under this category from April 2017: -

  • The minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 (General) migrant will increase to £30,000;
  • A change to the rules around advertising via a milkround will be introduced to close a loophole in which a sponsor can offer a job to a migrant 4 years after carrying out a milkround, without the need for a further recruitment search. Sponsors can continue to rely on a milkround which ended up to 4 years prior to assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, but only providing the migrant was offered the job within 6 months of that milkround taking place;
  • There will be extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the allocation of places is associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supports an inward investment. The resident labour market test will also be waived for these applications.

Changes to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT))

From April 2017, the following are the changes that will be implemented to the Tier 2 (ICT): -

  • All Intra-Company Transferees will be required to qualify under single, streamlined visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 with the exception of Graduate Trainee category;
  • Applicants under this category will be permitted to remain in the UK for up to nine years if earning £120,000 (the current level is £155,300);
  • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transferees paid over £73,900 will not need one year’s experience working for a group company overseas.


New English Language Requirement for family route applications

From 1 May 2017, the English Language requirement for non-EEA partners and parents will be changed to Level A2 of the Common European Framework of References for Languages.  This change was announced in November 2016, in order to provide applicants with the time to improve their English language ability to this higher English language requirement.

The new English language requirement will affect all applicants who will be applying to extend their stay after 2.5 years in the UK on the 5-year route to settlement. It will apply to all partners and parents whose current leave under the UK Family Migration rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.

Introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge

From April 2017, the charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per certificate of sponsorship per year. (A reduced rate of £364 will apply to small and charitable sponsors, as defined by the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations.) The Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee category and those switching from a Tier 4 student visa to a Tier 2 visa will be exempt, as will PhD level occupations.

Changes affecting Medical and Teaching Professionals 

From 6 April 2017, the sponsor will need to ensure that those employees applying to work in the UK under particular SOC codes have checked whether they are subject to a new requirement to produce a criminal record certificate as stipulated under Paragraph 320(2A) of the Immigration Rules. This applies to individuals who are aged 18 and above and are applying from any country in which they have been residing for 12 months or over, consequently or cumulatively in the past 10 years. At present, the affected SOC codes are predominantly within medical and teaching professions. 

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