Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Immigration News: November 2013

WORKING IN THE UK

Civil Penalties Consultation

The Government has published its response to the Home Office consultation on 'Strengthening and simplifying the civil penalty scheme to prevent illegal working' including the responses received to the consultation, the government's views and the steps they now intend to take to implement the proposals.

The key point is an increase in the penalty to £20,000 per illegal worker if an employer breaches the right to work checks on more than one occasion. The penalty for a first breach will be £15,000. The Government will also remove the partial check as a mitigating factor in view of the Home Office's parallel commitment to making the right to work checks easier to conduct. In future warning letters will be limited to circumstances where it is a first breach and an employer is able to demonstrate that they have effective recruitment processes in place which are generally compliant with the regulatory duty; a history of compliance; and meet the other published mitigating factors (reporting suspected illegal working and active co-operation with the Home Office's investigation).

In combination, the Government is promoting increases in the use of Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) as a means of simplifying the checks that employers are required to make. Whilst the Home Office plans to increase the issuing of BRPs to new migrants, the rollout of BRPs to those already in the UK remains a matter for further consideration.

The Government is also proposing to dispense with "unnecessary" annual checks on an employee with time-limited status who has several years of permission remaining and replacing these with a check at the point of expiry of the visa.

The majority of the changes are likely to be introduced in April 2014. In the meantime, the Home Office's Immigration Enforcement operation has already been stepping up its enforcement against illegal working.



Immigration Statistics, April to June 2013 (Working in the UK)

The Home Office (UKBA) has published the Immigration Statistics for the period April to June 2013.

The key points in relation to working in the UK were as follows:
  • There was a 2% fall in the number of work visas issued. This was due to the lower number for High Value (Tier 1) individuals following the closure of the Tier 1 General and Tier 1 Post Study categories to new applicants, partially offset by an increase for skilled workers (Tier 2).
  • There was a 9% increase in work-related extensions to 145,855, which was largely due to the higher number of grants for skilled workers (Tier 2).
  • Approvals under the Sector Based Scheme for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals fell by 22% and approvals under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme fell by 5% to 19,292.
The full report can be downloaded at:


English language tests for applications under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system (Working in the UK)

The Home Office (UKBA) has made some amendments to the list of approved English language tests for applications made under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system.

This version clarifies further the amendments made to Appendix O of the Immigration Rules in July 2013, setting out the documents that can be used as evidence.

You can download the revised list of approved English language tests here.


New Tier 2 Priority application form

The Home Office (UKBA) has published a new version of the Tier 2 Priority application form and the associated guidance notes.

This form is for use by applicants who are already in the UK.

Applicants applying on or after 14 October 2013 should use this form although the UKBA will continue to accept applications made on the previous version of this form up to and including 5 November 2013.

The new Tier 2 Priority application form can be downloaded here.



New application forms

The Home Office (UKBA) has published new versions of the following forms:
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Priority)
  • Tier 2 (Priority Dependant)
  • Tier 2 (Main applicant)
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
  • PBS Dependant application form for dependants of Tier 1, 2 and 5 migrants.
These forms are for use by applicants who are already in the UK.

A new version of the following application form for applicants who are in or outside the UK has also been published:
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Endorsement
Applicants applying on or after 1 October 2013 should use these new forms. However, the UKBA will continue to accept applications made on the previous versions of these forms up to and including 22nd October 2013.

The Home Office (UKBA) has published an updated version of their 'full guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK'.

The guidance includes information about the:
  • Restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals ending on 31 December 2013
  • Restrictions on Croatian nationals which come into force on 1 July 2013
  • Fast payment option for paying a civil penalty
The guidance also contains information about the additional circumstances in which a sponsor licence can be revoked if you receive a civil penalty.

The revised guidance can be downloaded here.


EDUCATION

Immigration Statistics, April to June 2013 (Education)

The Home Office (UKBA) has published the Immigration Statistics for the period April to June 2013.

The key points in relation to studying in the UK were as follows:
  • The number of study visas issued to non-EEA nationals has continued to fall compared with the previous 12 months, although they have fallen less quickly than previously.
  • There was a 5% decrease in study visas issued, mainly due to the fewer number of Pakistani and Indian students applying. However, there were increases for other nationals, such as Chinese and Libyans.
  • There was a 2% decrease in sponsored study visa applications. There was a 4% increase for the university sector, compared with falls in the further education (-25%) and independent schools (-3%) sectors.
  • There was a 5% increase in student visitor visas issued. The nationalities accounting for the increase for student visitor visas were different from those contributing to the drop in study visas over the same period.
The full report can be downloaded at:


English language tests for applications under Tier 4 of the points-based system (Education)

The Home Office (UKBA) has made some amendments to the list of approved English language tests for applications made under Tier 4 of the points-based system.

This version clarifies further the amendments made to Appendix O of the Immigration Rules in July 2013, setting out the documents that can be used as evidence.

You can download the revised list of approved English language tests here.


New Tier 4 and PBS dependant application forms

The Home Office (UKBA) has published new versions of the Tier 4 (General) application form and PBS Dependant application form for dependants of Tier 4 migrants

These forms are for use by applicants who are already in the UK.

Applicants applying on or after 1 October 2013 should use these forms. However, UKBA will continue to accept applications made on previous versions of these forms up to and including 22nd October 2013.


GENERAL IMMIGRATION MATTERS

Introduction to the Immigration Bill

The government announced the introduction of the Immigration Bill on Thursday 10 October 2013.

The Bill will increase checks making it more difficult for people to remain in the UK illegally by requiring landlords, banks and DVLA to make checks on applicant's immigration status to confirm they are in the UK legally before providing services.

The Bill will also require temporary migrants to make a financial contribution to the NHS; and will reduce appeal rights.

Further details can be found on the gov.uk website here.

You can follow the progress of the Bill and read explanatory notes here.



Immigration Statistics, April to June 2013 (Other Categories)

The Home Office (UKBA) has published the Immigration Statistics for the period April to June 2013.

The key points in relation to 'other' categories were as follows:
  • Family: There was a 24% decrease in family-related visas issued (to 34,201), whilst grants of permission to stay permanently increased by 24% (to 60,079). There was also a rise of 89% in family-related extensions of stay, mainly attributed to 10,256 extensions recorded under the new Family life (10 year) route.
  • Citizenship: There was a 14% increase in people granted British Citizenship (to 204,541).
  • Settlement: There was a 9% increase in people granted permission to stay permanently, rising to 153,058. This could be accounted for by increases in family and asylum-related grants offset by a decrease in those that were work related.


Operation Vaken - campaign to increase voluntary departures

The Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, has laid a written ministerial statement in Parliament about the recent pilot aimed to increase the uptake of voluntary departures. The pilot included mobile billboards encouraging illegal migrants to return home by highlighting the risk of arrest along with postcards in shop windows, adverts in newspapers and magazines, leaflets and posters advertising immigration surgeries in faith/charity group buildings.

The pilot took place between 22 July and 22 August 2013 in six London boroughs.

The Home Office believes that 60 voluntary departures can be directly attributed to Operation Vaken and a further 65 cases are currently being progressed.

The Home Secretary has stated that the advertising vans were too much of a "blunt instrument" and would not be used again. The evaluation also indicated that they were far less effective than the use of leaflets, etc.

A full evaluation report can be read here.


Simplified visa applications for Chinese visitors

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, has announced measures to simplify the visa application process for Chinese visitors.

On a recent visit to Beijing, the Chancellor announced key steps to be taken, including a pilot scheme that should cut down the paperwork for Chinese visitors to the EU and UK.

Other measures include:
  • Chinese nationals wanting to visit both the EU and UK will not need a separate UK visa application when they book with selected Chinese travel agents.
  • A new 24-hour 'super priority' visa service will be made available from summer 2014.
  • The VIP mobil service now operating in Beijing and Shanghai will be expanded.


Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation

The government has published its response to the consultation on measures to tackle illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation.

The consultation proposed that, in future, private landlords would be required to check the immigration status of new occupants and would be subject to a penalty for renting accommodation for illegal migrants to live in as their main or only home.

You can download the  government's response here.



Migrant's access to health services in the UK

The government has published its response to the consultation on migrant's access to health services in the UK.

The consultation proposed that, in future, temporary migrants would be required to make a financial contribution towards the cost of healthcare in the UK.

You can download the  government's response here.



New application forms (Settlement in the UK)

The Home Office (UKBA) has published new versions of the following forms:
  • SET(BUS) - settlement (overseas business representative or retired person of independent means)
  • SET(DV) - settlement (victims of domestic violence)
  • SET(F) - settlement (children of British citizens or people settled in the UK)
  • SET(LR) - settlement (long residence in the UK)
  • SET(M) - settlement (marriage)
  • SET(O) - settlement (other)
These forms are for use by applicants who are already in the UK.

Revised guidance notes have also been published for the SET(BUS), SET(LR), SET(M) and SET(O) forms.

Applicants applying on or after 28 October 2013 should use these new forms. However, the UKBA will continue to accept applications made on the previous versions of these forms up to and including 18th November 2013.

If an application is received on or after 28 October 2013 the applicant will need to meet the revised Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirements, and send evidence of that.

For information about this new requirement please refer to the Changes to the knowledge of language and life requirements for settlement and naturalisation document here.


English language tests for spouse or partner applications 

The Home Office (UKBA) has made some amendments to the list of approved English language tests for spouse and partner applications.

This version clarifies further the amendments made to Appendix O of the Immigration Rules in July 2013 by setting out the documents that can be used as evidence.

You can download the revised list of approved English language tests here.



HR IMMIGRATION SERVICES


Training for employers


We are increasingly being asked to provide training on Right to Work and/or Tier 2 sponsor duties.  If you think your organisation would benefit from training in either or both of these areas, please contact us for a no commitment discussion of your requirements at enquiries@veristat.co.uk.


New LinkedIn 'HR Immigration' Group


We have recently set up a new 'HR Immigration' group on LinkedIn, which aims to provide a networking space for UK employers and HR/recruitment professionals to share and discuss news/best practice about current UK immigration issues.


To join this group please go to http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=6537658


HTS Health-Check


The Veristat Health Check is a one day objective, external review covering key areas likely to arise during a Home Office visit together with examples of good practice drawn from over 4 years' experience of conducting compliance audits for schools, colleges and universities.

For further information please contact don@veristat.co.uk

'HR Immigration' is a trading name of Veristat Ltd.