UK Government Announces Further Changes to Immigration Rules

by Morgan Lewis

Changes to the business visitor rules, Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points-Based System, application documentation requirements, and the Life in the UK Test take effect on 1 October.

On 6 September, the UK government announced a raft of changes to various immigration categories. Most of these changes will take effect on 1 October 2013. Below is the summary of the changes that are relevant to employers.

Business Visitor Rules

The business visitor provisions have been expanded to enable internal auditors from global corporations to undertake internal audits in the UK as business visitors if they continue to be employed by overseas entities. This change to the rules is significant as it will allow auditors to do their day-to-day jobs whilst in the UK. The audit must be conducted on a short-term one-off visit.

A business visitor will also be able to attend corporate training in the UK when the training is delivered by a UK company that is (1) not part of the individual's employer's corporate group or (2) not a training provider. The current rules require that the training must either be provided by a related group or a company that ordinarily provides training.

Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

The English language requirement will be removed entirely for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrants. This change to the rules will mean that individuals who extend their leaves beyond a period of three years will not need to undertake an English language test.

Individuals who hold Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) status will be able to switch into Tier 2 (General) without their UK employers being required to undertake the resident labour market test (i.e., being required to advertise the role externally for 28 days). Individuals switching from Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) to Tier 2 (General) will be required to be paid the "new entrant" salary rate rather than the higher "experienced worker" salary rate.

The restriction placed on Tier 2 (General) applicants that states that they may not own more than 10% of shares in the UK sponsor's business will be removed for individuals who will earn more than £152,100.

In order for a UK employer to support a Tier 2 migrant's application for Indefinite Leave to Remain and certify that a migrant is still required for employment and is being paid the appropriate rate for his or her occupation, the employer will need to be able to demonstrate that it still holds a Tier 2 sponsor licence (or have applied to renew the licence).

Tier 5 of the Points-Based System

Hong Kong will be added to the participating countries in the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Documentation to Be Provided in Support of an Application

Individuals will be able to submit electronic bank statements for all bank accounts as opposed to only those that are available exclusively online (as is the case now).

It will no longer be a requirement to stamp and sign original pay slips where they are not provided on headed paper or accompanied by an original letter in support by the employer.

Life in the UK Test

The Life in the UK Test will be changed to include a requirement for applicants to be able to communicate orally at a level equivalent to B1 on the Common European Framework of References for Languages. An exemption will still be available for those individuals who are aged 65 years or older or those who have a disability that adversely affects their ability to learn English.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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