Immigration rules amendments:

On the 1st October 2009, several significant changes to the immigration rules will come into place. The changes will affect the Sole Representatives category, Tier 1, and various other categories of the Points-Based System.

Changes to the Sole Representative category

A replacement category for Sole Representatives entitled ‘Representatives of Overseas Business’ will be introduced. The major change will be a new English Language requirement similar to the test already in place for Tier 2. There will be three different ways to fulfil the requirement. Applicants can either provide an English language test certificate, hold nationality of a majority English speaking country, or hold a degree level qualification taught in English. The changes will also require the new business in the UK to be concerned with the same type of business activity of the overseas business, and will reintroduce representatives of overseas media organisations back within the immigration rules after it was removed in 2008.

Changes to Tier 1 of the Points Based System

Under Tier 1, provisions for periods of study leave to be taken into account when calculating points for previous earnings have been deleted. The effect of this is that individuals can no longer claim points from earnings made prior to a period of full time study. The UKBA intend to make decisions based on an applicant’s recent work experience and earnings capability in order to establish a more current representation of ability to contribute to the UK’s labour market.

The list of circumstances under which a Tier 1 migrant is permitted to undertake certain work is being extended by the UKBA. Instructions agreed with the Department of Health mean doctors can be admitted onto the Foundation Programme or in to speciality training where their previous leave was not subject to conditions restricting their employment.

The Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) category will also be amended slightly to include migrants who have previously studied for an eligible qualification whilst in the UK in categories that did not prohibit studying. It had previously only been available to those in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant, on a student Visa, or family member visa. The Post-Study Work category will also acknowledge the eligibility of the Professional Graduate Diploma in Education.

Further amendments are being made to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category which replaced the Business Person category in 2008. Those on the previous Business Person visa who wish to extend their stay in the UK will be automatically awarded 10 points for the English language requirement under Tier 1 and will not need to demonstrate their English language ability.

Changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based System

Various changes are being made to Tier 2 of the Points Based System, the majority of which are minor amendments.

With regards to the new category mentioned above, migrants in the new Representatives of Overseas Business category will be able to switch into Tier 2 from within the UK. The time spent in this category will also count towards the qualifying period of six months’ experience with a company for the purposes of applying for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa.

Under Tier 2 (ICT), the restriction preventing a migrant from owning more than 10% of his/her sponsor’s shares has been removed.

When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Tier 2 visa holder, the requirement to issue a further certificate of sponsorship to indicate a migrant is still needed by their employer has been removed. Written notification will be sufficient for the UK Border Agency which should be cheaper and more convenient for the employer.

The policy whereby Leave to Remain dates are calculated has been amended. An applicant’s sponsor will be able to request specific dates of leave, rather than the dates corresponding to when the application was decided. Further leave of up to three months can be granted to ensure the leave does cover both the dates of decision and the dates requested by the sponsor.

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave will be taken into account when considering migrants switching into Tier 2 (General) from the Tier 1 (Post Study Work) category and a new English language requirement, in line with the rest of Tier 2, will be introduced for Members of a Religious Order and Ministers of Religion.

Tier 4

Changes to Tier 4 are taking place to pave the way for the launch of the electronic Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).For a short while however, the visa letters of acceptance will continue as an alternative to CAS. The requirement that course related work placements must not exceed half the total length of the course will no longer apply if a longer placement is required by UK statute. In addition, Tier 4 migrants will be linked more closely to their sponsor by an amendment preventing studying at any institution other than that of the sponsor.

All of the above changes will be taking place on 1st October 2009. For further details on any of these changes or information on how these will affect you, please contact us.