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Changes to Immigration Rules and Regulations Coming into Force in April 2016

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It is hard to believe that the second month of 2016 is almost over. This means the raft of changes to the Immigration Rules due to come into force in April is rapidly approaching. If you have not started preparing, don’t panic, there is still time, and this blog is designed to give you the practical lowdown on what the changes are and how they will affect you and/or your business.

Minimum Income Threshold for Tier 2 Visa Holders Applying for Settlement

By far the most controversial change is that Tier 2 visa holders who wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, will, from the 6th April 2016, have to earn a minimum of £35,000 per annum or the going rate in the relevant UK Border Agency Code of Practice, whichever is higher.

Exceptions have been made for those jobs currently on the Shortage Occupations List. Following an uproar in the media last year, nurses were added to this list, along with and four technology positions, (product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security specialist).

However, those in many industries, including manufacturing and teaching have argued that these changes will mean they will have to let dedicated, highly-trained staff go after six years.

The new rules will apply to anyone who obtained a Tier 2 visa under the rules in force from 6th April 2011.

Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay.

Domestic Workers

Private Households

From 6th April 2016, domestic workers will only be allowed to stay in the UK for six months, with no right to apply for an extension. They will not be permitted to remain in the UK following their employer’s departure, nor will they be entitled to apply for settlement.

Family members are not permitted to accompany domestic workers; they will have to apply for a visa in their own right.

Diplomatic Households

Domestic workers in diplomatic households will be limited to a maximum of five years’ stay, or to the length of their employer’s posting, whichever is shorter. They cannot change employers or visas or apply for settlement; however, they can bring their dependents with them, as long as they leave the country at the same time as they employee do.

Changes to Immigration Fees

  • The fees for most applications, including short-term visit, work, and study will increase by 2%.
  • There is a new two-year visit visa for Chinese nationals being introduced for £85.
  • The Home Office proposes to increase the fees for settlement, residence and nationality by 25%. Applications for naturalisation for adults will increase to £1,156 and child registration fees to £936.
  • Family and Spouse Visas will cost £1,195 and the maximum chargeable for these applications will be increased from £2,141 to £3,250.
  • Fees for all employer sponsorship categories will stay at the current rate.

By not raising employer sponsorship category fees, the Government is sending a clear signal that it plans to curb migration by making it increasingly difficult for family members to settle in the UK, rather than target the business community. However, this is contradicted by the introduction of the £35,000 threshold for Tier 2 workers being allowed to settle. It is baffling that on the one hand, the Government wants to make it cheaper and easier for UK companies to hire non-EEA recruits, but then, once all the expense has gone into training them, make it near on impossible to retain them.

Many of these changes could have a major impact on your business. OTS Solicitors is one of the most experienced and respected Employment and Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal guidance available in the UK.

To make an appointment with one of our team, please phone our Holborn office on 0207 936 9960.

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