Author: Adarsh Girijadevi

Immigration health surcharge (IHS) to double from 8 January 2019

The immigration health surcharge will be increasing from 08th January 2019. The increased fee will be £400, doubled from the previous £200 for each year of the visa duration applied. There is a lower rate for students and Tier 5 Youth mobility workers which is £300; again doubled from the previous £150.

The draft order was passed further to a final parliament approval on 28th November 2018 and will impact all applications made on or after 08th January 2018. There is however no official statement from Home Office or Health Department, but various sites including freemovement.org.uk has reported this on the basis of good authority.

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Key Changes to Tier 1 visas announced in new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules

The immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, has announced on 06th December 2018,  a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules with major reforms to Tier 1 of the points-based system. The full version of the changes proposed can be viewed here.

The key changes are the introduction of a new Innovator route targeting more experienced people to replace the existing Tier 1 Entrepreneur route and suspending the Tier 1 Investor route which will be reformed soon. The new Innovator route will have a similar emphasis on endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.

According to the Statement laid before Parliament, these reforms will be introduced in the spring and is aimed to ensure that the UK remains a world-leading destination for investment and innovation. There is also wider changes planned for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. The changes will expand this route to provide for a route of entry for leading architects endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, under the remit of Arts Council England (ACE). This change builds upon other reforms to the route earlier this year, including doubling the number of places available, providing for faster settlement to existing leaders in their fields endorsed under this route, and expanding the route to leading fashion designers, also endorsed under the remit of ACE.

There will be also more technical changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 routes for highly skilled workers. These changes will be made to ensure the Immigration Rules remain up-to-date and for consistency purposes.

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Tier 1 Investor visa suspended from midnight tonight to crackdown organised crime

The Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route will be suspended from midnight tonight (6/7 December) which means no applications will be accepted after today.

Currently, a Tier 1 (Investor) visa is granted to wealthy candidates who are willing to make a substantial financial investment of £2 million, £5 million or £10 million in Government bonds or British businesses in return for permission to apply for permanent residence in five, three or two years respectively.

This so-called ‘gold-plated’ visa scheme which allows foreign investors a fast-track to settlement in the UK is planned to be suspended in order to tackle money laundering as part of serious organised crime conducted by those granted this visa. The Immigration Minister has been reported stating that the planned measures aim to make sure that only those genuine investors who play by rules and intend to support the UK business can benefit from the UK immigration system.

While a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules is planned to be laid before Parliament later today, as assumed to make the changes necessary to suspend the Tier 1 (Investor) route, the route itself will be re-introduced for applications in 2019 at unspecified date. Changes are planned to be serious, including removing government bonds from the list of acceptable investments and leaving only active and trading UK companies as option for investment while also obliging applicants to provide comprehensive audit trails evidencing the money source.

The announcement has been received as a shock by some practitioners who are concerned about the timing of introduction of these measures which collides with the timing of debating of the whole new future of the UK immigration system amid Brexit which may have a negative effect on already nervous investors coming from abroad.

These planned changes to investor visa scheme are not the first aimed to tackle non-genuine migrants investing in the UK through the Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route, as previously in November 2014 and April 2015 there had been reforms under which applications can be refused if there are reasonable doubts about the source of the investment funds or that they have been acquired through unlawful conduct. Those reforms resulted in planned plummeting of the number of Tier 1 (Investor) visas in their immediate aftermath.

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withdrawal agreement

Immigration proposal in the draft EU withdrawal agreement

The UK government has published its long-awaited withdrawal agreement and supporting papers for leaving the EU. The draft Brexit Withdrawal Agreement agreed by the Cabinet sets out the terms of the UK’s “divorce” from the EU, over 585 pages. In addition, the EU and the UK published a joint political declaration on their future relationship, which sets out broad areas of future co-operation.

A large section of the draft agreement (part ) is dedicated to the rights of EU citizens to live in the UK, and UK citizens to live in the EU. The UK will “take back control” of migration from the EU, but it will happen slowly.

The headline is that EU citizens and their families will continue to have the right to move to live and work in the UK (and vice versa) until the end of the transition period in December 2020.Those who take up residence before the end of the transition period will be allowed to remain beyond transition and, if they stay for five years, will be allowed to remain permanently.

However, once the transition period is over, the draft agreement does allow the UK to require EU citizens who stay on to apply for a new residence document. The agreement says application forms for this residence status “shall be short, simple, user-friendly”. All this applies to UK citizens in EU countries too.

The draft agreement says that a country may ask people to “voluntarily” start applying for this residence status before the transition period ends. Looking to the future, beyond the end of the transition period, the 14-page Outline Political Declaration document says that the UK and the EU will aim to achieve: arrangements for temporary entry for “business purposes”; visa-free travel for short-term visits; co-operation on tackling illegal immigration.

 

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New In-country Application process for UK Visas to be introduced from November 2018

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is set to launch a new visa application system within the UK. The new system will include an Online Application and further process at new Visa and Citizenship Application Service Centres operated by outsourcing firm Sopra Steria.

The Key dates are as follows.

  • 2nd November: UKVI partner Sopra Steria will have their appointment booking tool live;
  • 9th November: The new UK VCAS centres will start to open around the country and all locations will be open by 30th November.
  • During the period of 5th November – 29th November, the majority of customers can choose whether to enrol their biometrics and submit their documents via these new centres or use the existing processes via Premium Service Centres.
  • 29th November: Premium Service Centres will close
  • January 2019: Service and Support Centres will open, for use by a small number of customers who
    require more support with their application. These customers will continue to use the current process
    until January; we will issue more information on this process shortly.

The current process for UK visa and citizenship applications, including submitting biometrics, will remain in place until 29 November; so from 05 November – 29 November, customers have the choice of using the existing process, or the new process. The The full published guidance and location of the new centers can be downloaded here. Sopra Steria information sheet can be accessed here.

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Immigration law firm Lupins based in Wembley Park ceased to trade

Immigration law firm Lupins based in Wembley Park has ceased trading after getting into financial difficulties. The London firm, well known in the immigration sector, halted operations from 28 September and has handed over its client files to Duncan Lewis, which has also taken on some ex-Lupins staff. Lupins clients can contact Lubna Chauhan at Duncan Lewis by email or on 03337720409 to access their file or to confirm that they are happy for Duncan Lewis to take over their case. There is speculation that Lupins’s difficulties were partly caused by legal aid cuts and further demonstrates the challenges faced by immigration firms relying on legal aid.

What to do next?

Duncan Lewis is holding all of Lupins immigration client files. This means that if Lupins were your immigration Solicitors, the paperwork is now all with Duncan Lewis. However, this does not mean that Duncan Lewis will be continuing to act for you in your immigration case. If you would like them to do so, you will need to complete a consent form allowing them to act for you, but you do not have to continue with them. You are free to choose a different immigration solicitor at any time, so in this case there is no problem with you giving consent to Duncan Lewis to continue to act in your immigration matter, or to instruct a different immigration lawyer.

We are a multi award winning Immigration law firm based in the same location – Wembley Park and also contracted with the legal aid agency to undertake public funded work. We would be pleased to discuss and to take on any immigration matters previously handled by Lupins Solicitors. Please do not hesitate to contact us  on 0330 058 3929 if you require any further assistance.

 

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Theresa May backs immigration plan that favours skilled workers

Theresa May’s cabinet has agreed a post-Brexit immigration system that will offer visas to immigrants in a tiered system based on skills and wealth, a flagship policy that is expected to be one of her key announcements to the Conservative party conference next week.

Downing Street hopes the migration policy will appeal to party members concerned about May’s leadership and the Brexit negotiations, which last week appeared to have reached an impasse at Salzburg when EU leaders declared her Chequers proposals would not work.

The Brexit negotiations update was held at the end of the cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon and the only person who referred to a Canada-style trade deal was the prime minister herself in her own presentation. She added that some EU heads of government were being more constructive than others behind the scenes, but did not specify which leaders.The meeting amounted to a moment of relief for the under-pressure prime minister, who heads to New York on Tuesday for a United Nations meeting before turning her attention to the party conference. One cabinet source said May was “just trying to get through the conference season intact”.

A white paper setting out the new immigration policy is due to be published later this autumn.

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MAC recommends removing the cap on Tier 2 work visas after Brexit

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its research into migration from the EU and how it should be managed after Brexit. The committee recommends a policy allowing greater access for higher-skilled migration while restricting access for lower-skilled workers. It suggests extending the current scheme for high-skilled non-EEA migrants – known as a Tier 2 visa – to those from EEA countries as well. As part of this process, the cap on the total amount of workers allowed to enter under Tier 2 should be abolished and the range of jobs eligible for the visas expanded, the committee says. Current policy is to allow 20,700 high-skilled workers into the UK each year on Tier 2 visas. The current salary threshold for such visas is £30,000, which the report says should be retained. You can read the full report here.

 

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Recent changes in Immigration routes to tackle BREXIT labour shortage

UK Government has announced various addition of Immigration routes and Pilot schemes in order to tackle Brexit labour shortage to ensure smooth availability of skilled labour in the UK. In this article, we look over some of the recent routes introduced over the last few months.

Seasonal Workers – 2,500 migrants a year 

British farmers will be allowed to recruit 2,500 non-EU migrants a year under a new government pilot that will help alleviate an anticipated shortage of seasonal workers after Brexit. Under the new scheme, which will run for two years from next spring, non-EU nationals who travel to the UK to work on fruit and vegetable farms will be able to stay for six months before returning. This two-year pilot is expected to ease the workforce pressures faced by farmers during busy times of the year.

Overseas researchers – UKRI Science, Research and Academia

The ‘UKRI Science, Research and Academia’ scheme opened on 6 July 2018 by way of an addition to the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa route in an effort to encourage the ongoing growth of the research sector in the UK.  The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) route is the principal visa route by which non-EEA nationals who wish to undertake training and work experience are able to come to the UK.  The new scheme allows non-EEA researchers, scientists and academics to come to the UK for up to 2 years.The scheme is operated by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and means that they, along with 12 approved independent research organisations, including the Natural History Museum, are able to directly sponsor highly skilled researchers to work and train in the UK. Sponsored researchers include academics, researchers, scientists, research engineers or other skilled research technology specialists who will be hosted through an approved research institute, in a supernumerary role.

New UK Startup Visa for Entrepreneurs

The new route, announced during London Tech Week, will widen the applicant pool of talented entrepreneurs and make the visa process faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the UK. It will replace a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to a wider pool of talented business founders. It will require applicants to have acquired an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor, including accelerators. The visa route has been designed following advice from the Migration Advisory Committee and feedback from the tech sector and other stakeholders. This route will launch in Spring 2019, further details will be announced in due course.

Removal of Doctors & Nurses from Tier 2 Visa Cap

The removal will mean there will be no restriction on the numbers of doctors and nurses who can be employed through the Tier 2 visa route – giving the ability to recruit more international doctors and nurses to provide outstanding patient care when required. The Tier 2 visa route, which has had an annual cap of 20,700 since 2011, has in recent months seen the number of applications exceed the monthly allocation of available places. This has been driven, in large part, by demand from the NHS, which accounts for around 40% of all Tier 2 places. As well as providing a boost to the NHS, it will also free up hundreds of additional places a month within the cap for other highly skilled occupations, such as engineers, IT professionals and teachers.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – Increased to 2000 per year

The first big change is that the number of places available per year has been doubled from 1000 to 2000. This is to be allocated between the five Designated Competent Bodies (DCBs) according to demand. The next big change is the introduction of accelerated settlement after three years, bringing the category in-line with Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and (Investor) routes which have similar routes to settlement before five years.This means that recognised world leaders in their field can apply to settle after three years, and potential world leaders must wait until year five.

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Provision of Legal Aid Services to our clients

We are happy to inform that from 01st September 2018, we have started providing Legal Aid Services to all our clients at our firm. Legal aid is generally available for very limited immigration and asylum cases. The following matters may qualify for some advice, assistance and/or representation:

  • Detention & Bail cases;
  • Applications for Leave to Remain under the domestic violence rule;
  • Applications for leave by those identified as victims of trafficking;
  • Proceedings before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. This includes deportation and deprivation of citizenship cases where information is to be kept confidential for reasons of national security;
  • Many asylum cases & appeals;
  • Applications for Leave to Remain or settlement as a refugee with humanitarian protection/discretionary leave under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, ie: freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment;
  • Some Judicial Review Applications, in limited circumstances.

Legal fees for eligible clients will be paid by the Legal Aid Agency. You can check whether legal aid is available for your type of case online, by calling Civil Legal Advice (0345 345 4 345), or by contacting us. City Legal can assist you in establishing whether you qualify for legal aid. Even if you are not eligible for Legal Aid, our specialist immigration lawyers can advise, assist and represent you at very competitive rates.

Please visit https://citylegalservices.co.uk/legal-aid/ for more details or to make a referral. Alternatively you may call us on 0330 058 3929 (Option 3) or email us: [email protected]

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