Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Immigration News - April 2015

Working in the UK

Closure of Tier 1 (General) route

With effect from 6 April 2015, the Tier 1 (General) category will close and applications to extend leave will no longer be accepted. Applicants who are currently in the UK and who wish to extend their stay must submit an application on or before 5 April 2015.

The updated Tier 1 (General) policy guidance can be viewed here.


Recent migrant workers in the UK labour market

The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has published a report on recent migrant workers (RMW) in the UK labour market.

They examined data from the UK Labour Force Survey to analyse RMWs in 2009 and 2014 to identify how this has changed during the last five years.

The key findings were as follows:
  • There were less RMWs in the workforce in 2014 compared with 2009 - a drop of over 100,000 since 2009. 
  • The number of RMWs from countries that joined the EU before 2004 has increased. As this group is strongly concentrated in highly skilled work, the increase partially offsets declines in the number of non-EU workers and Eastern European workers doing these jobs. 
  • RMWs from Eastern Europe countries that joined the EU in 2004 (EU-8 countries) are more likely to be working in low skilled jobs, although the total number doing this work has declined. 
The full commentary can be viewed here.

Updated Modernised Guidance: Points-Based System

UKVI have updated their modernised guidance in relation to Tiers 1 and 2 of the Points-Based System. The revised modernised guidance can be downloaded from the below links:

Tier 2 policy guidance - updated

Revisions have been made by UKVI to the Tier 2 policy guidance for use on or after 2nd March 2015. The updated Tier 2 policy guidance can be viewed here.


Restricted certificate allocations (March 2015)

The restricted certificates allocation for March 2015 published by UKVI can be viewed here. The figures show that all valid applications for restricted COS which score the minimum 32 points continue to be granted with carry-overs from the previous month(s).



Abolishment of HTS/A rated status for Tier 4 Sponsors

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have announced that they are abolishing Highly Trusted Sponsor status which is sensible given that the term has little added value given that after a year all sponsors must be "highly trusted".

The terms 'Highly Trusted Sponsor' and 'A-rated' will no longer be used to denote UK education institution's eligibility to sponsor Tier 4 visas from 6 April 2015. Instead, sponsors granted a licence in Tier 4 can hold either 'Probationary Sponsor' status or 'Tier 4 Sponsor' status.

In view of this, they have revised their guidance for educators on applying for or renewing a Tier 4 sponsor licence. The following key changes have been made to the guidance:

  • The requirement for prospective sponsors to have a teaching track record has been extended from one year to two years. The teaching track record must include teaching a Tier 4 course to UK, EEA or Swiss nationals for the two years prior to an application for Educational Oversight.
  • More detailed information has been added for providers subject to statutory education inspection, and those required to apply for a Tier 4 Educational Oversight inspection.
  • A provision has been included to make it clear that Educational Oversight bodies can fail a private provider if it is not a credible institution or the Educational Oversight body has doubts about the evidence provided by it during an Educational Oversight inspection.
  • Introduction of minimum required ratings for providers subject to a statutory education inspection.
  • Failing to meet a required rating will mean that a private provider cannot re-apply for a Tier 4 Educational Oversight inspection for two years.
  • A new section on applying for a CAS allocation has been added. This clarifies the existing policy and prevents in-year requests by a Probationary Sponsor.
  • UKVI have added that they will refuse an application if the provider has previously held a Tier 4 licence where that licence was revoked within the last two years.
  • UKVI have also added that they will refuse an application if the provider has not declared that one or more of its Key Personnel or individuals involved in the day-to-day running of the organisations or any of its sites, has been named as Key Personnel at an institution whose Tier 4 licence has been revoked within the last two years.

You can download the new guidance here.

Buckinghamshire New University: sponsor licence

On 9 March 2015, the sponsor licence held by Buckinghamshire New University was suspended because its application to renew the highly trusted sponsor status was refused. The suspension took immediate effect and the university was removed from the Tier 4 and Tier 2 sponsor registers. The University was given the usual 20 working days to make representations.

Further information and guidance can be viewed here.

General Immigration Matters

Introduction of migrant health surcharge

The provision for recovering NHS costs from migrants, outlined in the Immigration Act 2014, is to be implemented with effect from 6 April 2015.

From this date, nationals coming to the UK from outside the EEA for longer than six months will be required to pay a 'health surcharge' when they make their immigration application. This surcharge will also need to be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK who are applying to extend their stay.

Further information can be viewed here.

Non-compliance with the biometric registration regulations

A new draft version of the code of practice about the sanctions for non-compliance with the biometric registration regulations laid in Parliament on 3 March 2015, which will replace the original version issued in 2008 once it has been approved.

The draft code of practice can be viewed here.

Curtailment of Leave

UKVI have made revisions to their modernised guidance for how they consider curtailing a migrant's leave in the UK.

The revised guidance can be viewed here.

    Naturalisation as a British Citizen: report by Migration Observatory

    The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has published a report about how many foreign citizens acquire British citizenship, their demographic characteristics, and the various bases for their grants of British citizenship.

    The key findings of this report were as follows:

    • In 2014, just less than 125,800 foreign nationals were naturalised as British citizens. This was the lowest number since 2002, following a period of higher recorded naturalisations from 2009 to 2013.
    • 5% of citizenship applications were rejected in 2014. The majority of naturalisation refusals since 2002 have been due to failure to meet either the residence or the 'good character' requirements. English language requirements and the Life in the UK test were only responsible for a small percentage of rejected naturalisation applications.
    • 50% of naturalisation applications in 2014 were from foreign nationals who have lived in the UK for the required five years, plus one additional year as a settled resident. The remaining half is split between spouses and civil partners of British citizens and minor children registering as citizens.
    • The largest groups of newly naturalised UK citizens in 2013 had prior citizenship from India (17% of the 2013 total), Pakistan (10%), the Philippines (5%) and Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nepal and China (4% each).
    The full report can be viewed here.

    British citizenship: children of British citizen fathers

    UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have published updated guidance of Section 65 of the Immigration Act 2014 concerning children of British citizen fathers.

    Section 65 will be commenced on 6 April 2015 and will insert new registration provisions into the British Nationality Act 1981 for persons born before 1 July 2016.

    Further information about Section 65 and the new provisions can be viewed here.

    Guidance for Syrian nationals in the UK on how to extend their visa

    UKVI have updated their guidance on how Syrian nationals in the UK can extend their visa based on the concessions to the Immigration Rules. The revised guidance can be viewed here.

    General grounds of refusal - updated guidance

    UKVI have updated and republished their modernised guidance on general grounds for refusal, which is valid from 25 March 2015. The revised guidance can be downloaded 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.

    These are normally half day courses conducted on your premises for a standard charge of £500 plus VAT regardless of the number of people attending. 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 by telephone on 0844 335 1619 or by email at enquiries@hrimmigration.co.uk

    Online Right to Work Learning and Assessment

    We have also now set up an online review of employer right to work checks with a self-assessment. The package is priced at £39 plus VAT and provides a comprehensive introduction to UKVI's requirements for checking employees' right to work and 20 randomly selected questions from a bank of over 100 to enable you to test your learning. It is suitable for both small and large employers, with reductions for higher numbers of users and the potential to incorporate onto your own online learning platform.

    Contact helen@hrimmigration.co.uk or call 0844 335 1619 for further information.

    LinkedIn 'HR Immigration' Group

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

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