Author: Adarsh Girijadevi

Immigration Rules Changes Announced 29th October 2015

The government announced on 29th October, changes to the Immigration Rules. Most of these changes will affect all applications submitted on or after 19 November 2015 unless otherwise stated.

The main changes are:

Asylum

  • making asylum claims from EU nationals invalid, unless exceptional circumstances apply
  • clarifying the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn

Settlement

  • ensuring indefinite leave and naturalisation applicants, who normally rely on an English language qualification, take a secure English language test
  • the introduction of the £35k minimum earnings threshold for Tier 2 settlement, which will come into force on 6 April 2016

Family/private life

  • providing that a child’s application for entry clearance will be refused where the Secretary of State considers that the sponsor or the sponsor’s partner poses a risk to the child

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the points-based system

  • amending the endorsement criteria used by Tech City UK, to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the UK digital technology sector

Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system

  • adding nurses and four digital technology jobs to the Tier 2 shortage occupation list
  • changes to clarify the charity worker rules for sponsors and applicants.
  • Setting the annual allocation of places available under the youth mobility scheme for 2016
  • minor amendments to the list of government authorised exchange schemes

A robust immigration policy is right – Theresa May

Mrs May observed that mass immigration is incompatible with a cohesive society if proper preparations are not made for large numbers of new arrivals. She said if we are going to have more people then we need more schools, more homes, more doctors and better transport infrastructure. This is especially true in London and the South East, where most immigrants settle.

Most voters would consider this analysis to be uncontroversial, and yet she has been accused of harsh rhetoric and lurching to the Right. A blizzard of statistics has been deployed purporting to show that there is a net benefit to Britain of high immigration and that she was wrong to say that indigenous workers are losing their jobs as a consequence. But figures can be produced to substantiate the points she made, too. This debate is ultimately futile.

The fact is that this country has experienced by far the highest levels of immigration in its history over the past 20 years and few, if any, preparations were made for it. Those who say it has been good for the country may well be right; but they are making a post hoc virtue out of something that was never intended. Until 1997, it was assumed that net migration would continue at around the 50,000 mark for the foreseeable future. The figure is now six times that. No government can ignore the impact of such a change.

Mrs May still seems wedded to the notion that net immigration can be reduced to below 100,000 – a five-year target set in 2010 and missed by a mile.

The Home Secretary should not be so fixated on an arbitrary and unachievable ambition, though she could consider changing the statistical base. After all, why should students from overseas and British people coming home be included in the immigration figures at all? The Institute of Directors is right to say that Britain must always be open to the brightest and the best from around the world but, equally, business should take the lead in training young Britons with the skills they need to be world beaters. In education too, more needs to be done to ensure that school leavers are qualified to succeed in the global jobs marketplace.

What this government – any government – must do is set out a policy that identifies who we want in the country and those we don’t, enabling the former to come while dissuading the latter. That is the essence of an immigration policy. The same is true of asylum: it should not be contentious to say that while we will offer sanctuary to people in genuine fear of persecution, those who are not bona fide refugees should be removed.

But two obstacles remain. First, controlling who comes is impossible for as long as Britain is part of the EU’s free movement of labour provisions – and changing benefit qualifications will affect that only at the margins. Second, it is already the case that illegitimate asylum seekers should be deported but most aren’t. In a speech that was more thoughtful than she is being given credit for, Mrs May correctly identified the problems brought about by the great migration. Whether she is any closer to a solution is another matter entirely.

Thousands of foreign students at publicly funded colleges are to lose the right to work.

The immigration minister, James Brokenshire, announced on Monday that from next month students from outside the European Union who come to study at publicly funded further education colleges will lose the right to work for up to 10 hours a week.

The “new crackdown on visa fraud”, as the Home Office describes it, is aimed at ensuring that student visas are used for study and “not as a backdoor to the country’s job market”.

Further measures will be introduced this autumn, including:

  • Reducing the length of further education visas from three years to two.
  • Preventing college students from applying to stay on in Britain and work when they finish their course, unless they leave the country first.
  • Preventing further education students from extending their studies in Britain unless they are registered at an institution with a formal link to a university.

The number of foreign students at British further education colleges has slumped in recent years from a peak of more than 110,000 in 2011 to 18,297 in the last 12 months.

The fall is partly a result of a squeeze by the home secretary, Theresa May, in an attempt to reduce annual net migration to below 100,000.

Ministers say the fall is also a result of a drive to reduce visa fraud and close down hundreds of privately funded “bogus” colleges.

The latest changes extend restrictions on non-EU students at privately funded colleges to those at publicly funded colleges. It is thought that there are about 5,000 non-EU students at publicly funded colleges, many of them studying for A-levels before applying to British universities.

Brokenshire said there had been signs of increased fraud at some publicly funded colleges and evidence of immigration advisers advertising college visas as a means to work in Britain.

“Immigration offenders want to sell illegal access to the UK jobs market, and there are plenty of people willing to buy,” he said. “Hardworking taxpayers who are helping to pay for publicly funded colleges expect them to be providing top-class education, not a backdoor to a British work visa.”

The Association of Colleges warned that the government measures risked seriously restricting Britain’s ability to attract international students.

“Preventing international FE students continuing to study in the UK after they have finished their studies will limit the progression of students from colleges to universities,” said its chief executive, Martin Doel .

“A-levels and international foundation year courses represent legitimate study routes for international students with many going on to successfully complete degrees at top-ranking universities. In blocking the route from further education to university, the government will do long-term harm to the UK as an international student destination and this policy needs urgent reconsideration.”

He added that the colleges had stringent monitoring systems to check attendance and were keen to see any evidence that they were being used as a back door for bogus students.

Improved figures on Restricted CoS – Tier 2 for July

UK businesses wishing to sponsor and employ non-EU nationals in the UK will rejoice to hear that June’s dramatic refusal rate should be much reduced this month, with requests for restricted CoS which score 45 points or more and offer the prospective employee a salary of £32,000 being granted.

When compared to last month’s minimum salary requirement of £46,000, this is a considerable improvement for many of those wishing to sponsor migrant employees.

Last month, the migrant cap caused the rejection of countless restricted CoS requests by UK businesses last month. This document is essential to the hiring of non-EU staff in the UK and the high rejection rate caught many UK sponsor organisations off-guard as it was the first time that demand had outstripped supply since the inception of the Points-based System.

The situation, however, is far from being resolved. With the UK economy going from strength to strength, demand for overseas employees is constantly on the rise and showing no sign of slowing down.

To make matters worse, Home Secretary Theresa May has just announced plans which will throw yet more international graduates into the mix. This poses a stark challenge for the migrant cap which the Conservative government has vowed not to increase.

One thing, however, remains quite clear: the higher the salary stated on the restricted CoS, the higher the chances over the next few months of it being granted.

If your organisation has any concerns over your monthly allocation of restricted CoS, please contact City Legal Services  today.

UK Government must revise immigration policy to keep talented overseas arts students in the UK

 

Some of the most acclaimed individuals from the arts – spanning film, fashion, fine art, design, drama, dance and music – have studied in the UK. Not only that, but we have also allowed them to stay on and work after their studies, enriching the cultural life of the UK. However, this is at risk as a result of the UK government’s approach to immigration.

International students currently have to earn a minimum salary of £20,800 (considerably more in some professions) to qualify for a work visa after their studies. They must also be employed by a single employer. These requirements do not reflect the reality of the creative and cultural industries, and we support the former universities minister David Willetts and the all-party parliamentary group on migration, who both say that greater flexibility is needed.

Whatever the makeup of the next government, it must think again about the UK’s immigration policy. The rethink should begin with the removal of students from any immigration target set for the next parliament and an increase in opportunities for qualified international graduates to remain in the UK once they finish their degree. Otherwise, if we do not act, we risk losing a generation of talented individuals to our competitors.


 

Non-EU family members do not need visa to enter UK, says European court

UK Border control at Terminal 5 Heathrow   logo

 

Britain cannot impose a blanket visa requirement on family members originally from outside Europe but who have valid EU residence rights, the European court of justice has ruled.

The decision is another setback in the government’s campaign to control immigration from the European Union.

Concluding that the EU’s freedom of movement rules trumped British claims that visas were needed to combat abuse of the EU residence card system, the judges in Luxembourg said the Colombian wife of Sean McCarthy, a dual British and Irish national living in Spain, did not need a UK visa or family permit to visit Britain.

The high court referred the case to the ECJ after McCarthy contested UK insistence on a family permit or visa, valid for six months, for his wife, Helena, every time they visit Britain. The couple have two children, both British nationals. The ECJ decided that Helena McCarthy’s Spanish residence card entitled her to travel to Britain without first obtaining a UK visa in Spain.

“The UK is disappointed with the judgment in this case,” said a government spokesman. “As the case is still to return to the UK’s high court for a final judgment, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The government argues that because it views the system of residence permits in some EU countries as suspect and open to abuse, it is entitled to impose a blanket entry requirement. The EJC dismissed this view, ruling that where suspicion existed, individual cases could be investigated and visa requirements imposed, but not as a general catch-all system.

“The [UK] legislation at issue requires an entry permit to be obtained prior to entry into UK territory, even where the authorities do not consider that the family member of an EU citizen may be involved in an abuse of rights or fraud. Family members who possess a valid residence card are thus prevented absolutely and automatically from entering the territory of the member states without a visa,” the court of justice said.

“The fact that a member state is faced with a high number of cases of abuse of rights or fraud cannot justify the adoption of a measure founded on considerations of general prevention, to the exclusion of any specific assessment of the conduct of the person concerned himself.

“Such measures would mean, as in the present case, that the mere fact of belonging to a particular group of persons would allow the member states to … disregard the very substance of the primary and individual right of EU citizens to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states.”

Immigration, EU freedom of movement and whether Britain should remain in Europe are increasingly vexed issue in the runup to next year’s general election. The Luxembourg ruling looks likely to cause trouble for David Cameron since it could open doors to thousands of non-EU nationals. It will also disgruntle Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers and fuel the Ukip anti-EU and anti-immigration campaign.

“Britain will be forced to recognise residence permits issued by any EU member state, even though the system of permits is wide open to abuse and fraud,” said the Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe.

“This ruling extends the so-called ‘right to free movement’ to millions of people from anywhere in the world who don’t have citizenship of any country of the EU. This is yet more proof that Britain can never take back control of its borders as long as it remains in the European Union.”

Timothy Kirkhope, a Conservative MEP, said: “We need a visa system controlled by the UK and not the EU. Of course the UK should have an immigration system which is fair, and does not disadvantage the right of British citizens to be with their family.

“We are disappointed as we believe that the UK’s visa system is both fair and lawful. Britain will always be best placed to decide and deal with its own immigration needs … not a judge in Luxembourg.”