On the 16th October 2014 the Home Office published its latest statement of changes to the Immigration Rules. This update outlines the key changes made.
A new category has been added for overseas lawyers who are employees of international law firms with offices in the United Kingdom. The change will allow the business visitor to provide direct advice to clients in the United Kingdom on litigation or international transactions, provided that they remain paid and employed overseas.
The Home Office will now make an assessment as to whether a genuine vacancy exists for Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applications. This change empowers entry clearance officers and in-country caseworkers to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job described by the sponsor does not genuinely exist, has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold, or – in respect of Tier 2 (General) – has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited, or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not qualified to do the job. As the Sponsor Licence Unit already performs this function when assessing restricted certificate of sponsorship applications, it will be a duplication of effort if entry clearance officers also perform this genuine vacancy assessment. For those migrants earning in excess of £153,500, the resident labour market test requirements do not apply.
An existing requirement in the published guidance for sponsors is that Tier 2 migrants cannot be sponsored to fill a position, undertake an on going routine role or provide an on going routine service for a third party which is not the sponsor. This requirement is being replicated in the Immigration Rules. This enables applications by individuals for entry clearance or leave to remain and applications by sponsors for restricted certificates of sponsorship to be refused in line with any wider compliance action relating to the sponsor in question. This applies to so-called ‘contract cases’ where migrants are based at a client site and is of particular significance for the IT sector. These cases will now incur greater scrutiny to ensure there is a genuine provision of services by the sponsor and no disguised employment by the third party.
A change is being made to the Tier 2 (General) provisions for extension applications where the applicant is continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor. Such applicants are exempt from the resident labour market test; at present, the exemption applies only if the applicant still has current leave as a Tier 2 (General) migrant when they make their extension application. The change will enable the applicant to benefit from the extension if his or her previous leave as a Tier 2 (General) migrant expires no more than 28 days before the extension application is made.
A temporary provision dating back to 2009, which waives the £20,500 minimum salary threshold where companies are reducing their employees’ hours to avoid redundancies, is being removed.
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
The annual allocations for participating countries on the scheme are being set for 2015. The allocations for New Zealand have been increased (16%).
A change is being made to the table of governing bodies to include information on the tier(s) in which each body may endorse applicants. Updates are also being made to the list of sports governing bodies.
These changes came into effect on the 6th November 2014.