The Immigration Minister has today announced a number of important changes to the Immigration Rules, which will be phased in from 1st October 2013.
Statement of Changes HC 628, which we think is the most significant of the year, introduces the following key measures:
- assessments and interviews to ensure that applicants are genuine and able to speak English at a suitable level, which already take place for entry clearance applications, will be extended to in-country applications under Tier 4
- the ‘no study’ condition for business and tourist visitors will be relaxed: they will be able to do recreational study for up to 30 days (single or multiple courses, continuous or otherwise) or they can study English language (which isn’t defined as ‘recreational study’) for up to 30 days, providing the education provider holds a Tier 4 licence and/or meets the accreditation rules for the student/extended student visitor category
- allowing Tier 4 graduates who have completed their degrees in the UK to switch into a 12 month internship under Tier 5 (GAE)
- provision for PBS dependants and dependants of those in other work routes to switch in-country
- relaxing the rules for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2
- assessments and interviews to ensure that applicants are genuine will be introduced in Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) for entry clearance and leave to remain applications
- removal of English language tests in Tier 2 (ICT) where the applicant is extending their stay beyond three years
- allowing those under Tier 2 who are earning at least £152,100 a year to be free from restrictions on the number of shares they can own in the UK sponsor
- widening permissible activities for business visitors
- including Hong Kong in Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)
- a new provision in Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) for artists of exceptional promise.
The Statement also introduces a number of other measures.
These changes are significant and undoubtedly mark the end of a truly ‘objective’ Points Based System in the UK.
Some of the measures, specifically those relating to businesses and to visitor study, are fairly positive and have been welcomed by our clients. Others, however, will have a significant impact on sponsors and migrants, including international students seeking to switch or extend their leave in-country. Tier 4 sponsors may need to carry out more stringent checks on international students to avoid potential accusations of weak recruitment or English language testing practices and this is not something our HEI clients have welcomed. If you need further information our contact details are here.