On 6 September 2013, the UK laid before Parliament a written statement which outlined a series of changes to the UK Immigration Rules. I have set out below a few of the changes for your information.
The UK Government has expanded the permissible activities for Business and General visitors coming to the UK. Overseas migrants who are employed as Auditors will be permitted to enter the UK as business visitors to perform short internal audits. Under current rules, Auditors seeking to conduct internal audits must apply for UK immigration permission under Tier 2 of the Points Based System (PBS). However, what has not been clarified is how long individuals can remain in the UK under this category.
Business visitors seeking to receive corporate training which will benefit their work overseas will be permitted to receive such training from non-professional trainers who are not affiliated with their overseas employer. Current rules only allow for corporate training for business visitors when conducted by professional training organisations or at a related UK entity.
General visitors coming to the UK will be permitted to undertake up to 30 days of recreational, English language or academic study, provided the study is not the main purpose of their visit.
Changes to Tier 1 and 2
The new rules confirm that English language will no longer be required for individuals under Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) extending their stay in the UK beyond three years. Current rules exempt those earning over £152,100 and those who have already satisfied English language requirement. In addition, current rules which prevent Tier 2 (General) applicants from owning more than 10% shares in their sponsor’s business will now be waived for those applicants who will be earning £152,100 or more per year.
Under Tier 1 (General) extension applications and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) cases a new “genuineness” test will be imposed which will increase the scope in which applications are scrutinised. For Tier 1 (General) applications caseworkers will scrutinise previous earnings particularly any reported under self-employment. For Tier 5, the genuineness test will mean a close scrutiny of the applicants skills and work experience and how they relate to the job for which they are sponsored.
Changes to Tier 4
The “genuineness” test has been expanded to leave to remain applications along with a change to allow the caseworker to be satisfied that the applicant speaks adequate English.
Changes to Tier 5
Students in Tier 4 who have completed degrees in the UK will be able to switch in country to undertake corporate internships which directly relate to their degrees. This is a concession for big businesses as many businesses who offer internships to graduates end up having to pay flights for graduates back to their home countries which only adds to their already costly internship programme. These internships will take place in the Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) sub-category. However, switching into Tier 2 at the end of the internship is not permitted. In addition, Hong Kong has now been added to the list of participating countries for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme.
Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK
Changes are being made to the knowledge of language and life requirement to ensure that all applicants can communicate orally at a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and to require applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of UK life by passing the Life in the UK test. The statement goes on to state that “provision is being made to accept a wide range of English language qualifications to enable applicants to study English in a way which suits individual needs.” In addition to existing exceptions, there will be an alternative route for those who have been in the UK on a family route for 15 years but have not been able to reach B1 level.
These changes will come into effect on 1 October 2013, which will no doubt lead to new policy guidance and application forms.