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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