In the second Statement of Changes this month, a number of adjustments to the Immigration Rules have been announced by Minister James Brokenshire. You can also read some propaganda about how great the changes are for geeks here. Link to the actual Statement of Changes to follow when available [here]. If you spot anything interesting in the ‘minor changes’ bits, do leave a comment below to flag it up.
The changes look like a mixed bag, with some quite welcome, some not so much so and some a waste of everyone’s time. Grants of leave of five years rather than three under Tier 2 are sensible and convenient. Adding Venezuela to the visa national list less so.
The announced changes are:
- Expanding the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to include leading talent in the digital technology sector, who are endorsed by Tech City UK, as well as making it easier for applicants in this category to apply from overseas, and to count time spent in other immigration categories towards qualifying for settlement.
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme to be made more flexible and simpler by removing the ring-fencing of places for MBA graduates and the current restrictions on participants’ graduation dates.
- Tier 2 grants of leave for up to five years at a time, rather than a maximum of three years at a time as at present. Changes to Tier 2 requirements are also to be applied to Croatian nationals.
- Ending the exemption from the genuineness test that applies to nationals on this list when applying for a Tier 4 visa.
- Scheduled updates to salary and maintenance fund requirements, as well as a number of other minor changes to Points-Based System categories. The maintenance fund changes will take effect for applications made from 1 July.
- New category for overseas government sponsored language teachers under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange route. Apparently this will enable government sponsored teachers to share knowledge and awareness of foreign languages and cultures in the UK, starting with a Mandarin teaching scheme designed to foster good cultural relations between the UK and China.
- Changes to the curtailment provisions in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules (General Grounds for Refusal) “to support the Home Office in its work to take robust action against those who attempt to abuse the immigration system and ensure that migrants do not retain leave to which they are no longer entitled.” In particular:
- incorporate the grounds in section 10(1)(b) and (c) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 in preparation for the changes made by the Immigration Bill
- enable leave to be curtailed where a Points-Based System sponsor notifies the Home Office that a migrant’s period of study or work is due to end earlier than had been originally planned when leave to enter or remain was granted
- make further minor changes to ensure that the wording and the intentions of the rules are clear and consistent.
- Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates added to the list of countries whose nationals benefit from different documentary requirements. Also, Bahraini nationals who hold diplomatic and special passports issued by Bahrain when travelling to the UK for the purpose of a general visit will no longer have to obtain a visit visa to travel to the UK.
- But Venezuela to be added to the list of counties whose nationals require a visa to travel to the UK.
- Discretionary policies for civilian employees of NATO and the Australian Department of Defence, and employees of firms under contract to NATO to be incorporated into the Immigration Rules.
- Minor changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules relating to family life. Interestingly we are told:
These mainly reflect feedback from caseworkers and legal practitioners on the operation of the rules.
- Clarification of the knowledge of language and life provisions which apply for settlement applications by partners and children of members of HM Forces.
Word is that a new rule preventing members of the metropolitan elite from benefitting from migration to the UK was vetoed at the last minute by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who were worried about their childcare arrangements.