Category: Immigration

Immigration Rule Changes published on 09 September 2019

The Immigration rule changes were announced by the UK Government on 09th September 2019 as Statement of Changes HC 2631; the full document can be accessed here. 

The Key changes are outlined below.

Tier 2

The announcement has seen a number of positive changes made under the Tier 2 route both helping migrants and sponsoring organisations.

  • There has been some additions to the Shortage Occupation List  such as web designers, engineers, health/ medical, biological scientists, psychologists, veterinarians, architects and IT specialists. The advantage of these positions now classified as shortage occupation is that, those businesses employing migrants under these positions are no longer required to meet the Resident Labour Market Test requirements (RLMT). The applicants will also be exempted from the higher earnings threshold required for settlement as well. The key changes are for those who run IT businesses and Restaurants. All positions under SOC Codes 2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers, 2136 Programmers and software development professionals and 2137 Web design and development professionals are now classified under shortage skilled occupation. These positions contribute a large workforce in IT  and is definitely expected to make significant improvements to the industry.  The other key change is that restaurants who offer take away service can now employ skilled chefs and this is expected to help a lot of small and medium restaurants struggling to find chef from within the UK.
  • Schools will be pleased that advertising roles on the gov.uk “Teaching Vacancies” platform will now meet the requirements of an acceptable RLMT advertising method.
  • The rules on migrant salaries in the run-up to those applying for indefinite leave to remain where there has been a temporary reduction in earnings will be extended to cover a wider group – the rules will extend to those absent from work due to sickness, statutory parental leave, assisting in a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis and engaging in legal strike action – this is in addition to those on maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave.
  • Some salary rates have been modified and will apply to certificates of sponsorship assigned on or after 6 October 2019. PhD level occupations will be exempt from the (20,700) annual limit on visas for skilled non-EU workers from 6 October 2019.
  • Employees sponsored in Ph.D. level SOC codes with UK absences for research purposes and relating to their visa sponsorship, will no longer have these absences counted within the indefinite leave to remain (settlement) absence rules. By way of reminder, migrants granted leave since 11 January 2018 must not exceed 180 days’ absence in any rolling 12-month period.

Students

Changes have been made so that students on Tier 4 (General) visas will be able to start working for Tier 2 sponsors within 3 months of the completion of their degree. Students who have been supported by an endorsing body can also start their business activities whilst their application for a start-up application is pending.Another change is being made to allow Tier 4 students studying at masters’ and PhD level to start a different course of study with their current sponsor while they have leave, without having to make an application from overseas.

Other changes:

  • English language tests and Life in the UK certificates – applicants will be able to rely on their unique reference number, no longer requiring their paper test certificate.Appendix O will no longer exist, and details of acceptable English tests will be on the main gov.uk page.

  • Many technical changes have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme rules (known as EUSS) – particularly for the family members of UK nationals returning from a European Economic Area (EEA) Member State or Switzerland. Most of the changes appear to provide clarity. There have also been some big changes to the “suitability” EUSS rules covering circumstances where applications may or must be refused.

  • Administrative reviews (a mechanism to challenge decisions) must now be submitted online unless the original application was made on a valid paper form.

  • Changes will also be made to the deadlines for applying for administrative review under the EUSS rules, and a discretionary rule to allow late applications will be removed – this change is not likely to be welcomed, particularly for applicants granted pre-settled status when they believe they qualify for settled status.

  • Tech Nation, one of the endorsing bodies for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants, will now require three, rather than two, letters of support by established organisations in the digital technology sector for endorsement.

  • Any organisations applying to become an endorsing body may be refused on the grounds of ‘criminality or other actions or behaviour which are non-conducive to the public goo’ or due to conflicts of interest. On the positive side, under the start-up and innovator scheme, there will be an exemption for students on doctorate extension scheme from the requirement to apply as innovators if they have previously established business in the UK.

Please read the full changes on the link outlined in the beginning of this article to understand all changes implemented.

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Stateless child

Immigration Rule Changes for Stateless Applicants

The Stateless applicants are considered under Part 14 of the immigration rules paragraph 401 to 416 which sets put the rules and requirements in detail.

The key change that is being introduced,  increase the initial period of leave for those who qualify from 30 months to five years’ limited leave, after which they can apply for settlement. It is also now required that, in order to qualify for stateless leave, the applicant must show that they cannot acquire a nationality or a right to permanent residence in another country to which they may be entitled. This may be problematic in most cases to prove the negative.  It is also worth noting that applications for stateless leave will be refused where a person does not provide sufficient evidence that they have taken such steps, even if they are technically ‘stateless’ because they do not hold a nationality at the time of their application. There are also other minor changes in respect of family members.

The rules are made stricter to avoid abuse and to prevent applications from those  who can acquire the nationality of another country but choose not to. The changes are unlikely to impact the registering for British citizenship under nationality act.

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Innovator Visa

Innovator visa introduced to replace Tier 1 Entrepreneur

The Home Office announced on 7 March 2019 by statement of changes (HC1919) regarding the closure of Tier 1 Entrepreneur route and introducing ‘innovator’ and ‘start-up’ visa categories. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applications can continue to be made until 29 March 2019.

The Innovator visa category is intended for more experienced business people and will require an endorsement in addition to the £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source (reduced from £200,000 for most applicants in the current Tier 1 Entrepreneur category). There will not be any funding requirement for those switching from the Start-up category (replacing graduate entrepreneur) who have made significant achievements against their business plans. The Innovator category may lead to a settlement in the UK. Innovators will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years continuous residence in the UK as innovators, provided they satisfy at least two of a list of criteria relating to how much money they invested, how much the business grew and/or how many jobs they created.

There is not yet a set list of organisations that can endorse someone for an innovator visa, but we understand that endorsing bodies like Tech Nation will be participating in this scheme. Extension applications for Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.

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Tier 5 GAE

Tier 5 GAE Internship Scheme for International Students

The Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) programme is for people coming to the United Kingdom through approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice through work placements, whilst experiencing the wider social and cultural setting of the UK. This route could be a good alternative for those International Students who struggle to obtain a Tier 2 work visa and yet it is a least known route among the Point Based System routes.

The Programme would allow you to spend up to two years in the UK gaining valuable professional and life experience. Tier 5 GAE allows UK employers to hire the brightest candidates from overseas, helping them start their careers in highly respected companies and utilise that expertise once they go back to their home country. This route requires to have an overarching sponsor as opposed to employer being a sponsor under the Tier 2 Scheme. The list of overarching sponsors can be found here.

The requirements vary with schemes by different overarching sponsors. In order to apply from the UK, you must have lawfully obtained a UK Bachelor’s or Master’s degree during your last grant of leave, and need a Tier 5 GAE sponsorship to obtain a professional qualification/registration in same field as your degree, or to do an internship of less than 12 months that is directly related to your qualification, and you are not filling a permanent vacancy. More details of this can be found here. The employers would need to apply normally for a registration to join the scheme. At City Legal we can assist the employers with the GAE registration process and assist you with your Tier 5 GAE visa application.

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NHS

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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Invest T1

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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pablo

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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legal aid agency

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: legalaid@citylegalservices.co.uk.

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courtofappeal

Court Of Appeal rules on the validity of UK visa applications made online.

In the case of R (Singh) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWCA Civ 1669 the Court of Appeal discussed transitional provisions in the Immigration Rules that apply to online applications which must be supported with further evidence sent later by post. The appellant argued that an application made online without supporting evidence was not valid and therefore did not count as an application for the purpose of deciding whether the “old” or “new” Rules applied. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and ruled that the online application did count and therefore the previous Rules would apply. This meant the appellant could not benefit from a change to the Rules which required the Home Office to chase applicants for missing evidence and give them an additional 10 days to submit it.

Mr Singh had leave to remain as a student and made an online application for further leave on 22 October 2014, shortly before his leave expired. On 16 October 2014 the Secretary of State for the Home Department had changed the Immigration Rules on supporting documents. Previously, applicants had 15 days to supply those documents by post. If the deadline was missed the application would be automatically rejected. The new Rules told Home Office caseworkers to instead send a letter chasing up the missing documents and wait for a further ten days before rejecting the application. At the same time the Secretary of State made a Rule stating that applications made before 6 November 2014 would be decided on the basis of the old rule and applications made after that date would benefit from the new rule.

Mr Singh argued that this transitional rule only referred to “valid” applications made before 6 November 2014. His application never became valid because he had not sent his passport to the Home Office, therefore it did not fall to be considered under the old rules and he should benefit from the additional ten days provided by the new rules. Although the outcome of this case is unfortunate for Mr Singh it is difficult to challenge the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeal. It would be very surprising if the online application were not to count as an application as a matter of law when that term is used in other parts of the Immigration Rules.

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immigration

BBC pull video aimed at children claiming immigration is in ‘our DNA

The BBC film aimed at GCSE pupils claimed Britain was “multicultural long before curry and carnival” and there isn’t such a thing as “pure Briton”. The assumptions made in the video, which had been in circulation since May, sparked a backlash and BBC was forced to withdraw the documentary. In the animated video, part of a series called Don’t Hate the Debate, the voiceover said: “Think immigration is a recent thing? Think again. “Because you see, you got the Celts, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, the Normans, the Flemish, the Irish, black Britons and Jewish people.

The video then seemed to issue a thinly-veiled attack on some right-wing parties calling for measures to curb immigration. Following the withdrawal of the video, a BBC spokesman said: “Don’t Hate the Debate is a series of films designed to help teachers enable classroom debates about topical issues.

 

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