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Immigration news update: UK

There were a number of significant immigration changes published by the Home Office on 16 October 2014. Workpermit.com is providing further details of the main changes below.

Tier 2 visas

(Changes introduced 6/11/14)

Powers of refusal

Tier 2 applications can now be rejected by the Home Office, if there is reasonable suspicion that the vacancy is not genuine, or that the applicant is not qualified for the job. As part of the visa validation process, immigration officials will now be examining the job description in detail to try and ensure that it has not been tailored to meet the Tier 2 visa requirements.

Off-site contracts

Tier 2 visa applications will also be assessed where the migrant will be undertaking contract work off-site to ensure that the off-site work is indeed only temporary contract work and that they are not to be based there routinely. The previous guidelines stated that Tier-2 migrants may undertake project work at off-site locations; the definitions for project work and routine work remain unclear. The immigration changes may very well result in more contracts being examined by The Home Office.

Out-of-time visa extensions

The Home Office will now accept Tier 2 (General) visa extensions that are out of time by no longer than 28 days. This is only in the case of visas where no Labour Market Testing is required.

Tier 1 visas

(Changes introduced 6/11/14)

Tier 1 Investor visas

The minimum investment for Tier 1 investor visas has been raised from £1million to £2million as of the 6th November. This will apply to all visa applications submitted from that date. The Government has taken into account the Migration Advisory Committee report of February 2014. Applicants were previously able to invest the 75% of the previous one million pound investment requirement and then 'top up' their investment if the value of the investment fell below this level; the remainder of the money could be left in a bank account or used to purchase property. Under the new rules, the whole of the higher £2million investment needs to be invested, and 'top-ups' are only required when parts of the investment portfolio are sold off, bringing the balance below £2million. Investors will also no longer be able to use funds from a loan to finance their investments, although this rule will not apply to those who already have existing visas. These rule changes only apply to new investors; for existing investor visa holders the same rules will remain.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas

When applying for an Entrepreneur visa from within the UK, applicants must now be able to demonstrate that the necessary funds are held within the UK. Those who apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after five years on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa must provide evidence to the Home Office which shows that the relevant funds have been invested in a UK business – if they have not already done so at an earlier date.

Visit visa types

(Changes introduced 6/11/14)

Business visit visas

Lawyers visiting the UK will now be able to provide legal advice to UK clients, if they are employed by an international law firm based overseas which also has UK offices.

Domestic worker visas

Overseas domestic workers may now be refused entry to the UK when travelling with employers. This is only if the immigration authorities believe that they are spending so much time in the UK that they are in effect resident in the UK. This will apply to those with visas issued after 05/04/2012

Private Medical visas

Private medical visitors can now apply for a visa up to 11-months, when receiving medical treatment within the UK. This can be extended for up to six months at a time for ongoing treatment.

Transit visas

The Home Office is set to publish clear guidelines for business travellers and tourists who transit through the UK, en-route to other destinations. Transit visas may not be required providing that the traveller holds a valid exemption document. The announcement regarding transit visas is due to be made on 1st December.

Visit visa enforcement

(Changes introduced 6/11/14)

English language requirements

The Home Office will be given powers to interview applicants and ask them to resit English language tests, should they feel they do not come up to a basic standard. This applies even in the cases where applicants have provided certificates for tests taken overseas.

Invalid applications – chance to correct mistakes

Applicants will now have the chance to correct any mistakes or omissions in their visa application. In the past such mistakes would have rendered their application invalid; now applicants will be given the opportunity to correct such errors in their application.

Tier 5 visas

(Changes introduced 01/01/15)

Youth Mobility Scheme

Allocations for the Youth Mobility scheme will open in January 2015, with the only significant change being that the limit for New Zealand will increase to 11,000 places. This is a 16% increase on the previous year.

Administrative reviews

(Changes introduced 20/10/14)

If you believe that your application has been declined due to an Home office error you can submit an Administrative Review (AR) to the Home Office. Currently administrative reviews can only be made if you meet the following criteria:

  • Currently outside the UK
  • Submitted their application from outside the UK
  • Applied for a Tier 1, 2, 4 or 5 visa,

This is part of the Home Office's attempts to limit the right of appeal. However, the Home Office have vowed to answer all AR applications within 28 days. The previous appeal process could take many months.

Sanwar Ali of Workpermit.com says 'it remains to be seen whether these 28-day turnarounds are realistic. This is also a way for the Home Office to make sure that people do not have a proper right of appeal. The situation with visa appeals is now worse than before, as you do not have an appeal at an immigration tribunal; only an administrative appeal at the Home Office.'

Roundup

These are major changes to the UK immigration system. We will keep you updated of changes as they happen. If you believe any of these changes may affect your visa, or if you wish to speak to one of our advisers, then please don't hesitate to contact our London office on 0344 991 9222 for further details.