A new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC667 has been laid down on the 3rd November 2016. These changes come in a whopping 90 pages however, most changes are in the language itself rather than effect. The significant changes include the increase of the minimum salary requirement of Tier 2 skilled workers; the introduction of a fresh English language requirement for family immigration regarding to Tier 4 visa and the removal of the previous 28 days’ grace period for making out of time immigration applications.
The detailed information regarding to the changes are as followings:
Implement the first of 2 phases of changes to Tier 2, announced by the government in March following a review by the Independent Migration Advisory Committee.
- Increasing the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000 with some exemptions.
- Increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000.
- Reducing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year.
- Closing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.
These changes will come into effect for all certificates of sponsorship assigned by Tier 2 sponsors on or after 24 November 2016. The date from which intra company transfers will be liable for health surcharge will be announced in due course.
Several changes have been made, including amendments to academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for doctorate Extension Scheme and evidence of overseas qualifications, UK qualifications used as evidence, and a series of minor technical adjustments.
English language requirement:
As previously announced in January 2016, a new English language requirement at level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language has been introduced for non-EEA partners and parents.
This affects those applying to extend their stay after 2.5 years in the UK on a 5-year route to settlement under Appendix FM (Family Member) of the Immigration Rules. The new requirement will apply to partners and parents whose current leave under the family Immigration Rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.
The removal of the 28 days’ period of permissible overstay to prepare a new application is rather unwelcomed news. The references to the relevant 28-day period rule have been replaced with a new paragraph 39E:
- The application was made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring and the Secretary of State considers that there was a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative, provided in or with the application, why the application could not be made in-time: or
- The application was made:
- Following the refusal of a previous application for leave which was made in-time or to which sub-paragraph (1) applied: and
- Within 14 days of:
- The refusal of the previous application for leave; or
- The expiry of any leave extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971; or
- The expiry of the time-limit for making an in-time application for administrative review or appeal (where applicable); or
- Any administrative review or appeal being concluded, withdrawn or abandoned or lapsing.
Explanatory Memorandum explained this new approach as:
The new 28-day period is therefore to be abolished. However, an out of time application will not be refused. On the basis that the applicant has overstayed when the Secretary of State believes that there is valid reason that goes beyond the applicant or his representative’s circumstances, provided the application was made within 14 days of the expiry date.
Provisions have also been made so that those individuals who have used the 28-day rule while it existed will no longer be penalised when it comes to continuous residence applications further down the line.
Some other noteworthy changes are:
- Tighter refusals on public policy grounds to provide for mandatory rather than discretionary refusals.
- The age limit of 65 for domestic workers in private households has been removed along with some other changes to domestic worker categories.
- Various amendments to the family and private life rules including decreased threshold for refusal because of debts to NHS from £1000 to £500.
- A very slight relaxation of the rules on visitors so that refusal is not mandatory where a person previously breached immigration laws, is now outside the re-entry ban period and has since been readmitted to the UK.
- Incorporating existing EU safe third country law into the Immigration Rules.
- Slight clarification of the Administrative Review procedure.
- Adjustment of wording on validity of applications.
- Very minor clarification and changes to Tier 1 type visas.