What do changes to immigration rules mean for you?
On October 29th the Government announced changes to its Immigration Rules. The changes, although presented as being minor in terms of their application, were nonetheless wide ranging in their effects. Categories of asylum and rights to settlement were altered along with changes to the Tiers 1, 2 and 5 points based systems. For the most part, these changes will affect all applications dating from November 19th onwards.
In terms of asylum, EU citizens are now – barring exceptional circumstances – unable to apply for asylum in the UK. Changes have also clarified the terms under which refugee status may be withdrawn with particular reference to criminal or extremist behaviour. Asylum seekers accounted for just 4.6% of migration to the UK in 2013.
Relating to settlement the rules relating to English language qualification were changed with all applicants forced to undertake a ‘secure’ language test. The move is predicated on the notion that existing English language qualifications may have been forged.
Tier 2 employment
Also in terms of settlement the raising of the Tier 2 earnings threshold to £35,000 is a notable feature. This will come into force on April 16th 2016, although dispensation may be applied to health and IT workers. Four categories of IT work have been added to the Tier 2 shortage occupation list.
This represents a concession to energetic lobbying from health service workers and high-profile members of the UK’s IT industry. However, small business advocates as well as such global giants as Google continue to point to the difficulty they are experiencing as a result of the current Tier 2 regime.
Tier 1 and charity workers
The Tier 1 exceptional talent criteria have also been amended in respect to the endorsement criteria used by the government’s flagship Tech City UK initiative in East London.
There were also minor definitional changes intended to clarify the rules governing charity worker rules. These applied equally to charity workers and their sponsors.
Announcing the changes in parliament Immigration Minister James Brokenshaw was keen to stress the changes to the asylum and refugee aspects of the changes, pointing out that anyone convicted of a criminal offence, or of being found to be engaged in ‘extremist’ activity in the UK could forfeit their refugee status. Needless to say, the implications of such a policy are potentially of the utmost gravity.
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