A new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1154) has been published which includes a number of positive initiatives due to come into force on 6 July 2018.
We take a look at some of the key changes below.
Doctors and nurses to be exempt from the monthly Tier 2 limit
We have regularly covered the fact that since December 2017, the limit on the number of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) that are available under Tier 2 has been reached each month. This has resulted in large numbers of applications being rejected.
The new rules mean that health sector employers will be able to sponsor doctors and nurses without requiring a RCoS. Doctors and nurses will be completely exempt from the Tier 2 limit.
The Government’s position is that this ‘will free up places within the limit for other key roles which contribute to the UK economy and other public services’.
Whether or not a sufficient number of places are freed up to make a significant difference remains to be seen but the Government has confirmed that it will keep the changes under review.
This news does demonstrate that, with effective lobbying, it is possible to force change through. This news will be of interest to other sectors that are struggling to recruit as a result of the limit.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent is to be expanded
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent scheme is for talented individuals who work in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology.
The endorsement of arts applications is being widened to include those who are operating leading designer fashion businesses.
Other developments include changes to the evidential requirements for applicants holding a peer-reviewed research fellowship; changes to the criteria and list of eligible awards for applicants in film and television; and changes for digital technology applicants to reflect the re-branding of “Tech City UK” as “Tech Nation”.
Absences in ILR applications under the work categories
A welcome transitional arrangement is being applied to ensure that a new ILR absences calculation rule that was introduced from 11 January 2018 (in HC 309), does not adversely affect applicants whose absences occurred during leave granted under rules in place prior to that date.
The change means that the old more lenient rules – that absences must not in general exceed 180 days during each consecutive 12 month period as opposed to each continuous 12 month period – will apply to leave that was in place before 11 January 2018. We have covered this change here.
Changes relevant to international students
There is positive news for students from Bahrain, Cambodia, China, The Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, The Maldives, Mexico, Serbia, Thailand and Macau SAR.
Applications from such applicants will be treated as ‘low-risk’ meaning that less onerous evidential requirements are in force in relation to visa applications.
Dependants will be able to accompany a Tier 4 General student who is applying for leave to study a postgraduate course that is at least nine, rather than 12, months long.
Students sponsored under Tier 4 who will be taking a study abroad programme, which is an integral and assessed part of the course, at a partner institution of their sponsor will be able to do so without having to apply to extend their leave under Tier 4 first.
The ATAS clearance scheme will be extended to include courses with relevant JACS codes of less than six months. Therefore those studying under the short-term study route will also need ATAS clearance if they will be studying a relevant course.
The new Rules introduce a number of positive measures which may indicate that the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, may be willing to listen to employers and sector bodies.
The above information relates only to the key changes that we believe are the most positive. The Statement contains a number of other measures and the full text can be read here.
For further information, please contact our immigration team.