Changes to Immigration Rules

A Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was yesterday presented to Parliament. These changes will apply across the board and have implementation dates starting as soon as 20 October 2014.

Tier 2 – Assessment of genuine vacancy

The Statement of Changes specifies that Entry Clearance Officers and caseworkers will be able to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job does not genuinely exist or has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold. They may also withhold acceptance if they feel the applicant is not qualified to do the job or that the position has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.

If the applicant is not yet appropriately qualified or registered to do the job in question, he or she must provide evidence that he/she can reasonably be expected to obtain the appropriate qualifications or registrations by the time he/she begins the job.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Migrants

Along with needing to provide the required evidence, applicants for Tier 2 ICTs will have to prove that the vacancy recorded by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is indeed genuine, as applications may now be refused where grounds exist to believe otherwise. They may also refuse the application should Entry Clearance Officers feel that the applicant is not appropriately qualified to do the job in question.

Tier 2 General Migrants

Similar to Tier 2 ICT Migrants, no points will be awarded for a CoS if the Entry Clearance Officer or the Secretary of State believe that the vacancy is not genuine, or that the applicant is not appropriately qualified or registered to do the job in question. Additionally, applications may be refused if the job requirements are inappropriate to the vacancy or have been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.

Tier 2 Work at/for a third party

Changes in the existing rules now clarify that a Certificate of Sponsorship must not be awarded to enable:

  • the hiring of an applicant to a third party who is not the sponsor to fill a position with that party, whether temporary or permanent; or
  •  contract work to be undertaken on an ongoing routine role for a third party who is not the sponsor.

If this is found to be the case, however temporary this position may be, no points will be awarded for the CoS.

English language tests must be taken at a SELT centre 

Tests administered by Trinity College London on or after 6 November 2014 must display “SELT Centre” on the test certificate. Additionally, the test must be verified via the College’s online verification tool.

Business Visitor Route expanded

Under the changes, scientists and researchers will now be allowed to share knowledge, expertise and advice on any UK-led international project, as long as the visitor is not carrying out research that should be undertaken on a Tier 5 (temporary worker) or Tier 2 (skilled work) visa.

The Business Visitor Route will also include a provision for overseas lawyers of international law firms which have offices in the UK, to provide direct advice to clients in the UK on litigation or international transactions.

Overseas nurses will now be allowed into the UK on a Business Visitor Visa in order to sit the Objective Structural Clinical Examination (OSCE). This is required before any overseas nurse is able to work in the UK via the Tier 2 route.

Tier 1 (Investor) Route

A decision to reform the Tier 1 (Investor) route of entry has been made, raising the minimum investment threshold to £2 million.

This is double the previous figure of £1 million and providing these funds via loans will no longer be an option for applicants. These changes will apply to all applications submitted on or after 6 November 2014.

Tier 4 Changes

As of 20 October 2014, students will lose the right to appeal where they have been refused further leave to remain under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. The new rules will only allow these cases to apply for an administrative review. The removal of this provision will also apply to foreign criminals and their family members.  However, in these cases an administrative review will not be an option.

Whilst it remains to be seen how strictly these Statement of Changes will be interpreted and applied, it does appear that the Immigration Service will in future be able to apply a greater degree of subjectivity in their assessment of applications, especially those under Tier 2. Many would therefore interpret this statement to be a marked move away from the Points Based System that has been in place since 2008.

Statement of Changes as presented to Parliament, 16 October 2014:

Moving people to the UK is our business. Please contact us immediately should you have any concerns about how these changes will affect your corporate immigration strategies.


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