From 18 August 2013, most applicants booking a premium appointment at a public enquiry office (PEO) will be asked to pay the full application cost and booking fee upfront, using a new online system.
The new process will help applicants access PEO appointments and at the same time tackle those who are abusing the booking system.
The automated payment system will collect the whole fee upfront. This includes the application fee, the premium fee of £375 and non-refundable appointment fee of £100. The £100 fee is to confirm the appointment.
You can manage appointments in the normal way through your online account. If you do not attend your appointment or cancel it with 5 or less working days notice your £100 fee will not be refunded.
On 26 July 2013 the Home Office filed its appeal against a High Court judgment on the minimum income threshold for spouses/partners and children applying in the family route.
The judgment affects non-EEA national spouses/partners and children applying to settle in the UK with someone who is already resident here.
The Home Office will continue to put on hold decisions in some spouse/partner and child settlement visa and leave to remain applications until the case is finally determined by the Courts.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
'Our family changes were brought in to make sure that spouses coming to live in the UK would not become reliant on the taxpayer for financial support and would be able to integrate effectively. We are pleased that the High Court judgment of 5 July supports the basis of our approach.
'However, we believe matters of public policy, including the detail of how the minimum income threshold should operate, are for the Government and Parliament to determine, not the Courts. We also believe the detailed requirements of the policy are proportionate to its aims. We are therefore pursuing an appeal against the judgment.
'We have asked the Court of Appeal to expedite this. In the meantime, where an applicant does not meet the minimum income threshold and there is no other reason to refuse it, the application will be put on hold.'
On 5 July 2013 the High Court delivered its judgment on a legal challenge to the minimum income threshold for spouses/partners and children applying in the family route.
The Home Office has paused decision-making on some spouse/partner and child settlement visa and leave to remain applications to enable them to consider the implications of the judgment.
The pause applies to applications made under Appendix FM to the Immigration Rules where the application would be refused solely because the rules relating to the minimum income threshold are not met, including where relevant the evidence requirements in Appendix FM-SE.
The same approach is being applied to a small number of adoption cases which would be refused on this ground alone.
Applications which meet the Rules or which fall to be refused on other grounds, such as requirements for English language or a genuine and subsisting relationship, will continue to be processed and decided as normal.
A further announcement will be made in due course.
Can I still submit a spouse/partner or child application under Appendix FM?
Yes. You can continue to apply, but you should take into account the fact that if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will pause consideration of your application pending further consideration of the High Court judgment.
Can I still submit my application in person at a public enquiry office in the UK?
Yes, but you should take into account the fact that if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will pause consideration of your application pending further consideration of the High Court judgment.
What happens if my case is on hold and I want to withdraw my application or get my passport returned because I need to travel?
If you have already applied and now wish to withdraw your application, you may do so. The Home Office will not refund your application fee.
If you are seeking the return of your passport to travel, you may do so but the Home Office will treat your application as withdrawn. The Home Office will not refund your application fee.
How long will cases be paused?
The Home Office will provide further information in due course.
What happens if I meet the income threshold requirement?
If the Home Office assesses that you meet all the rules which apply to your case, including the income threshold requirement where this applies, your application will be granted.
Am I still required to meet the income threshold requirement or can I apply knowing that I do not meet it?
You can apply, but if the income threshold is the only requirement you do not meet, the Home Office will pause consideration of your application pending further consideration of the High Court judgment.
Does this pause affect all adoption cases?
No. This only applies to applications required to meet the minimum income threshold under paragraph 314(i)(a), 314(i)(d), 316A(i)(d) or 316A(i)(e) of Part 8 of the Immigration Rules made on or after 9 July 2012. Adoption applications which do not have to meet the minimum income threshold are unaffected.
Does this pause on decisions affect other categories like adult dependent relatives or spouses on the two-year probationary period?
No. This pause has no effect on applications which do not need to meet the income threshold requirement. Those cases will continue to be assessed against the rules which apply to them.
The government has launched two consultations seeking views on proposed immigration legislation.
Proposals on healthcare provision and privately rented accommodation were published today, 3 July 2013. The bill will make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live in the UK unlawfully and ensure that legal migrants make a proper financial contribution to our key public services. The proposals will ensure that immigration policy is built into our benefits system, our health system, and other services.
Migrant access to health services in the UK - A consultation on ensuring that migrants contribute fairly to the costs of their healthcare
This consultation seeks views on proposals to change the basis on which migrants access health services. These proposals respond to longstanding public concern that the current rules regulating access to those services are both too generous, particularly when compared with wider international practice, and poorly applied. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
'We have been clear that we are a national health service not an international health service and I am determined to wipe out abuse in the system.
'We need to ensure that those residing or visiting the UK are contributing to the system in the same way as British taxpayers.
'The NHS is a national treasure and we need to work with the entire health system to develop plans and make sure it is sustainable for years to come.'
Tackling illegal migration in privately rented accommodation
This consultation seeks views on the government's proposals to create a new requirement on landlords to conduct immigration checks on tenants, with penalties for those who provide rented accommodation to illegal non-EEA migrants in breach of the new requirements. The new requirements will be modelled on existing controls which apply to the employment of illegal workers which are well established and have operated successfully for the last five years.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:
'We are determined to root out the rogue landlords that exploit vulnerable people by charging extortionate rents to live in unsanitary and often dangerous conditions.
'The measures proposed today will do just that. The rules will be simple to follow for law-abiding landlords, so they can continue to let high quality homes to their tenants. But there will be stiff penalties for those who flout the rules and continue to offer this poor housing to illegal migrants.
'And to help councils tackle the problem of slumlords head-on, we're inviting them to bid for a share of £3million to help them investigate and prosecute cases in their areas.'
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:
'The government is determined to build a fairer system and to address the public's concern about immigration. The proposals will form part of the Immigration Bill, to be introduced later this year, which will tighten immigration law, strengthen our enforcement powers and clamp down on those from overseas who try to abuse our public services.
'By reducing access to free NHS care and rented accommodation for illegal migrants, we will make it more difficult for them to stay in the country leading to more returns and removals.
'This Bill is the next step in the radical reform of the immigration system which has led to a reduction in net migration - now at its lowest level for a decade.'
To read the consultation documents and take part in the Immigration bill consultations, see the consultation section of the Home Office website.
On Monday 10 June 2013, a number of minor changes to the Immigration Rules have been published which will come into force on 1 July 2013.
If you apply for a Tier 4 student visa you may have to sit a short interview when you attend the visa application centre to submit your application and biometric information.
The interview will focus on your reasons for coming to the UK; this is known as a credibility interview.
A report of the interview will be sent to the visa officer who will consider it alongside your visa application and supporting documents. You may be called for a further interview if the visa officer needs more information.
Following Parliamentary approval, there will be a fee charged for the following types of EEA documentation applications made from within the UK from 1 July 2013.
The Home Office is removing the full right of appeal for applicants refused leave to enter the UK as a family visitor.
On 25 April 2013 Royal Assent was given to a clause in the Crime and Courts Bill, published on 10 May 2012, which will allow the change to be pushed through.
The change is expected to come into force on or soon after 25 June. The new appeal arrangements will apply to anybody who applies to enter the UK to visit a family member on or after the implementation date.
By removing the right of appeal, the Home Office is bringing the family visitor visa in line with all other visitor visa categories. Applicants who are refused can re-apply addressing the reasons for refusal instead of appealing. This will be quicker and cost less than an appeal. In 2011-12 95% of applications were decided within 15 days, whereas the appeal system can take up to 8 months to deliver a result.
The Home Office will update their guidance, forms and website information to reflect these changes in time for implementation.
Following today's announcement to allow London Metropolitan University to again sponsor international students please see below guidance for non-EEA students, as taken from the UK Border Agency website.
Following revocation of London Metropolitan University's licence I chose to stay at the university to continue my studies, what should I do now?
You can continue your studies. We wrote to you in January to confirm that you can complete your studies there as a legitimate student. This remains the case now that the university can again sponsor non-EEA students.
If your visa has run out and you need to extend your leave to remain in the UK, you can now do so by obtaining a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from London Metropolitan University and making a Tier 4 (student) application.
I moved to another education provider, what should I do now?
If you moved to another institution following revocation, you would have received a letter from us confirming that you can continue your studies with that education provider. This remains the case.
Is it safe for me to apply to London Metropolitan University or will the Home Office revoke its licence again?
The university now has appropriate checks and processes in place to monitor its international (non-EEA) students, which is why we have allowed the university to again sponsor students under the Tier 4 route. Over the next 12 months the university will have the opportunity to demonstrate that it can maintain these standards and work towards becoming a full Highly Trusted Sponsor. Over the past year our aim has been to support legitimate students choosing to study in the UK.
Haven't legitimate students had their leave curtailed as a result of revocation?
No, all genuine students have been able to stay and study in the UK, with action only being taken against those with no right to be in the UK.
Why did you revoke London Metropolitan University's licence only to allow them to sponsor new students now?
Following the revocation of London Metropolitan University's licence, we undertook a series of detailed checks on their systems and processes for monitoring non-EEA students. As a result the university has made significant improvements, which is why we are now allowing the university to again sponsor students.
It is in the interest of international students that all institutions take their immigration responsibilities seriously and demonstrate that they comply with the rules.
I'm thinking of studying at London Metropolitan University and am currently based outside the UK
You should apply as normal, using the Tier 4 (student) guidance on our website.
International students will be permitted to enter the UK to study at London Metropolitan University from today.
This decision follows the removal of the university's sponsor licence in August 2012.
A series of inspections carried out by the Home Office in the last 6 months have demonstrated that the university has made the necessary improvements to its systems and administration. The university now meets the requirements needed to sponsor international students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
In line with Home Office policy, the university will now be subject to a probationary period in order to build a track record of compliance with the new students they enrol.
During this period there will also be a limit on the number of international students the university can enrol.
Home Office inspection teams looked at areas of concern that led to the revocation of the university's licence last year, and have worked with university staff to ensure they have appropriate processes for recruiting and monitoring their international students.
Following revocation the Home Office was in contact with affected students directly, and provided regular news and guidance on its homepage. Advice and guidance on applying for a student visa can be found on the UK Border Agency's London Metropolitan University guidance page.
Today (8 April 2013), the Home Office is publishing a statement of intent outlining planned changes to requirements for those applying to settle in the UK, or become naturalised as British citizens.
From 28 October 2013, applicants in both categories will be required to pass the Life in the UK Test and to hold a B1 (intermediate) level English language speaking and listening qualification. This change will strengthen the citizenship process, replacing the current system which requires applicants to sit either the life in the UK test or show language progression from one English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) level to the next, but not both.
The knowledge of language and life requirement for settlement (Indefinite leave to remain)
From 28 October 2013, there will be two parts to the knowledge of language and life requirement, both of which must be met by all applicants for settlement unless the individual is exempt. Applicants will be required to:
The knowledge of language and life requirement for naturalisation as a British citizen will be the same as that for settlement, and the same English language qualifications will be accepted.
English language qualifications A range of English language qualifications will be accepted as evidence that an applicant has met the B1 level speaking and listening requirements.
From 6 April 2013, when you book your premium appointment online you will need to then call the immigration enquiry bureau by 3pm on the next working day to pay an appointment fee of £100 per applicant in order to confirm your appointment. If you do not make payment within this timescale, your appointment will be cancelled.
The £100 fee is not an additional fee and was part of the newly revised £375 fee for premium service appointments which was announced on 25 February. You will pay the remaining balance at the public enquiry office on the day of your appointment.
These changes are being introduced as part of wider work to tackle those abusing the public enquiry office booking system and to help genuine customers to access public enquiry office appointments.
You can cancel or reschedule your appointment in the normal way through your online account. If you cancel your appointment with 5 or less working days' notice, or if you fail to attend your appointment, your £100 fee will not be refunded.
The UK Border Agency intends to implement a fully automated pre-payment system that will collect all fees upfront. The UK Border Agency will announce when this service is available.
Further details on the new process can be found on the UK Border Agency's premium service page.
A number of changes to the Immigration Rules are coming into effect on 6 April 2013.
The changes to the rules are as follows:
From 1 April 2013 the UK Border Agency was split into 2 separate units within the Home Office: an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement division.
These organisational changes to the UK Border Agency do not affect the validity of any reference to the agency in any document or form on the UK Border Agency website. The UK's Immigration Rules will also remain in force.
This page provides guidance on the changes to the Immigration Rules for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, in particular for applicants who applied before 31 January 2013 and are waiting for a decision on their Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.
Over the next 4 weeks, the UK Border Agency will be writing to all applicants who applied before 31 January 2013 to you to explain how the changes will affect you and what steps you will need to take to continue your application. The UK Border Agency may need additional information from you to process your application.
The UK Border Agency may ask you to:
If you are applying on or after 31 January and are relying on funds from a third party, the declarations you provide from those third parties will need to confirm that the funds will continue to be available to you until they are used.
Further information about the evidence you need to supply as part of your application can be found in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) policy guidance.
If the UK Border Agency has not decided your application before 31 January or you apply on or after this date, the UK Border Agency will consider it under the new rules.
Today, Thursday 14 March 2013, a written ministerial statement has been laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules.
These will come into effect on 6 April 2013, and will include changes to:
The UK Border Agency is making changes to the codes of practice for skilled employers. This includes updating the list of skilled occupations to reflect the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 2010 system.
This transition means that the UK Border Agency needs to adjust the arrangements for restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) in March, April and May 2013.
Granting a restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) before 6 April 2013
If you are granting a restricted certificate of sponsorship (RCoS) before 6 April 2013, it must be assigned by 5 April 2013, or when the Standard Occupation classification (SOC) system is updated the 'job type' details will be lost. If this happens you will need to make a new application for a new restricted certificate of sponsorship.
Timing of the monthly allocation of restricted certificates of sponsorship
Because of these updates, the UK Border Agency will also be making changes to the timings of the monthly allocation of restricted certificates of sponsorship (RCoS) for April and May 2013.
April allocation 2013
The UK Border Agency will accept applications for the April allocation period from 6 April to the 17 April 2013. Decisions on these applications will be made on 19 April 2013.
May allocation 2013
The UK Border Agency will accept applications for the May allocation period from 18 April to the 5 May 2013. Decisions on these applications will be made on 13 May 2013.
The changes are summarised in the time table below.
If you urgently need a restricted certificate of sponsorship between 6 March and 18 April, you must submit an application and request exceptional consideration. To do this you must email the reasons for exceptional consideration to Tier2Limits@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. The request for exceptional consideration must be made on the same day that you submit your application or your application may be rejected.
Examples of valid reasons for exceptional consideration include:
The UK Border Agency has published a statement of intent, to help employers prepare for changes to the points-based system.
The statement announces changes to the codes of practice for skilled migrant workers from outside the European Economic Area. These will come into effect on 6 April 2013 and will also affect the timing of the applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship in March and April. The changes include:
Changes to the lists of skilled occupations
The current codes of practice use the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 system, so the UK Border Agency is updating their skill lists and levels to reflect the new Standard Occupational Classification 2010 system.
Changes to salary requirements
The minimum appropriate rates for skilled workers in each occupation are being simplified and updated to reflect changes in pay for settled workers. In addition, the overall salary thresholds which apply across Tier 2 will be increased in April, in line with wage inflation.
Changes to the way the resident labour market test is conducted
The current lists of specific publications and websites where vacancies can be advertised will be replaced with a set of simple criteria for identifying suitable media. These new criteria will make the resident labour market test more flexible, giving employers more freedom to advertise where they think will be most successful, while ensuring settled workers have the opportunity to apply for jobs.
This follows a review of the codes of practice carried out by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) last year. The statement of intent sets out the government's response to the MAC's recommendations and how the UK Border Agency will update the system to make it more user-friendly for both applicants and sponsors.
For full details of the changes, and the transitional arrangements the UK Border Agency will put in place, please see the statement of intent on their website.
mmigration Minister Mark Harper laid a written ministerial statement proposing fee increases for visa applications made overseas, and applications made in the UK.
The proposals laid in Parliament on 25 February and on 14 March, subject to Parliamentary approval, will take effect from 6 April 2013.
Immigration Minister, Mark Harper said:
'These increases are mostly in line with inflation and will ensure that the UK continues to welcome the brightest and the best. It is only right that those who use and benefit from the immigration system should contribute more than the UK taxpayer.'
The proposed fee increases takes place against a difficult financial context for the UK Border Agency and the government as a whole. The UK Border Agency believes their proposals to increase fees strike the right balance between ensuring the UK Border Agency continues to provide a world class service and maintaining a fees structure that does not inhibit the UK's ability to continue to attract those businesses, migrants and visitors who most benefit the UK.
'These adjustments will also allow us to improve our levels of customer service and deliver a high quality immigration service at a challenging time for public finances across the UK.'
See the following link for a table of the proposed fees.
A written ministerial statement setting out the changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route has been laid in Parliament.
The UK Border Agency is introducing the following changes:
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said:
'We have acted quickly to stamp out abuse by those looking to play the system. 'The UK remains open to the brightest and best - genuine entrepreneurs with the ideas and motivation to drive economic growth will always be welcome in the UK.' For more information, the written ministerial statement and statement of changes can be accessed from the UK Border Agency website. Additional information for applicants has also been published.
An updated Life in the UK test handbook is now available to buy.
The new handbook supports the UK Border Agency's Life in the UK test for migrants wishing to seek permanent residence in the UK or naturalisation as a British citizen.
It has been updated to provide the reader with a more accurate reflection of living in the UK, with a greater focus on British culture and history. The handbook is user-friendly and has taken on board feedback from the user evaluation survey, the public and other interested parties.
The handbook celebrates British achievements and prominent individuals in the fields of science, culture, literature and sport. It also highlights the natural beauty and major landmarks of the UK. There is information on government, democracy, the legal system and how individuals can contribute to their community, plus a greater emphasis on the responsibilities as well as privileges of living in the UK.
It will fit easily into a pocket or bag and includes useful 'check that you understand' boxes at the end of every section, and a glossary of key words and phrases.
A new Life in the UK test will be introduced on 25 March 2013, 8 weeks after publication of the new handbook, to allow candidates time to prepare. Unlike the current test which only has questions on selected chapters, the new test will include questions on all sections of the new handbook, meaning that candidates will be tested on their knowledge of history and the law. The booking system will make it clear to candidates whether they are booking the new or old test.
From 13 December 2012 changes were made to the Nationality Instructions that affect anyone applying for citizenship on or after that date.
The main changes deal with criminality and how it is assessed in terms of the good character requirement in citizenship applications. Some of the main amendments are summarised below:
On Thursday 22 November 2012 a written ministerial statement has been laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules which will come in to force on 13 December 2012.
These include non substantive changes for sponsors and migrants coming to the UK under the following routes of the points-based system:
There will also be some changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme quotas and Tier 4 loan letters in early 2013.
We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries for applicants seeking premium service appointments from the UK Border Agency. Requests for premium service appointments are at its highest level at present and it has become increasingly difficult to obtain premium service appointments.
Please note that we are able to arrange appointments for our clients only, i.e. in cases where the client has instructed us to conduct the matter on his/her behalf and prepare the application accordingly. We are not in a position to book a premium service appointment for an applicant where we are not at the same time preparing an application. We trust that applicants will understand our position.
Demand for premium service appointments far exceed availability at present, and applicants are therefore advised not to seek premium service appointments unless this is absolutely necessary. Representative appointments are provided on a strict first come first served basis by the UK Border Agency. If no suitable appointments are available, applicants must submit their applications to the UK Border Agency by post by the expiry date of their current leave.
As previously announced, a number of changes to the Immigration Rules are coming into effect today.
New Rules now apply for extending your visa
If you are applying to extend your visa under the points-based system, all working and student routes, visiting routes, long residency routes and discharged HM Forces and UK ancestry routes, new rules will now apply.
If you have limited leave to enter or remain in the UK and wish to extend your visa, you must apply within 28 days of your current visa expiring. Your application for further leave will be refused if you have overstayed your visa by more than 28 days when you apply.
If you have no right to be in the country the UK Border Agency expects you to leave voluntarily and they will enforce your return if you fail to do so. Where the UK Border Agency needs to enforce someone's return they may be subject to a ban on re-entering the UK.
Further information on the changes can be found in the UK Border Agency's news story on their website.
An initial challenge was heard on 21 September 2012. Following the hearing, a UK Border Agency spokesperson said:
"London Metropolitan University's Tier 4 sponsor licence remains revoked. London Metropolitan has failed to get its sponsor status restored and the judge has not granted interim relief.
'UKBA agreed to allow existing genuine students to continue studying at the university until their course has ended or the end of the academic year, whichever is sooner — as long as they meet the right standards. But students who are here illegally and do not meet our immigration criteria will not be allowed to stay.
Revoking the university's licence was the right course of action and we will continue to fight the University's challenge at the full hearing."
Our decision to revoke London Metropolitan University's licence therefore remains in place. However, the judgment does allow existing genuine students to stay on at the university until their course has ended or the academic year, whichever is sooner - as long as they meet Tier 4 requirements. This means we will make additional checks on affected students at the university.
The UK Border Agency will update their guidance for students at London Metropolitan University in light of this judgment. In the meantime London Met students should contact the help centre if you have any questions about what the court judgment means for you.
In June 2012 the UK Border Agency announced that from 1 October 2012 applications for further leave will be refused if you have overstayed your leave by more than 28 days at the point you made your application. The new rules already apply to applications made under the family migration route and, from 1 October 2012, will apply to applications under the remaining routes which were made on or after 9 July 2012.
If you have limited leave to remain you must ensure you apply to extend your leave in good time if you are applying for further leave under:
Applying under Tier 4
If you are applying to extend your Tier 4 (Student) leave the gap between the end of your current leave and the start of your studies must be no more than 28 days.This change will affect all Tier 4 applications for further leave to remain that are made on or after 1 October 2012. The UK Border Agency will be updating the Tier 4 (Student) policy guidance to reflect this change.
On 16 July 2012, the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 will change.
The amended regulations will set out the rights of EEA nationals and their family members to enter and reside in the UK and will also confirm the criteria for rights to permanent residence.
The key changes to the regulations include:
Rights to reside in the UK on the basis of ECJ judgments do not stem directly from Directive 2004/38/EC, therefore they are referred to as 'derivative rights'. This means that the recognition of this right by the UK is not equal to rights under the directive.
This also means that those who acquire derivative rights are not eligible to acquire permanent residence in the UK, or to sponsor family members in to the UK once they have acquired a right to reside.
These changes will affect:
UK Border Agency
PO Box 306
Guidance for applicants will be available on the UK Border Agency website soon. A detailed document explaining the changes to the regulations can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website.
From 16 July 2012 if you are applying for British nationality from outside the UK you must send your application form to:
UK Border Agency
PO BOX 306
From 16 July you cannot submit your application for British nationality to the British High Commission or British Consulate in your country. For further information please see the following link:
New Immigration Rules came into force on 9 July 2012 which changed the length of time that family members must be in the UK before applying for settlement.
The Rules apply to partners of:
If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or after 9 July 2012 for the 5-year family route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 5 years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for another period of 2 and a half years.
If you applied on or after 9 July 2012 to come to the UK or for permission to stay here for the 10-year family route, or for permission to stay here on the 10-year private life route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 10 years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for three more periods of 2 and a half years..
A number of changes to the Immigration Rules come into effect on 9 July 2012. These changes will affect non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK under the family migration route.
These changes will define the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life, unifying consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
If you already have leave to enter or remain in the UK, on the basis of being the spouse or partner of a settled person, you will need to meet the rules which were in force before 9 July 2012 if you apply for settlement.
The changes include:
As announced by the government on 18 June 2012, the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2012 come into force on 9 July 2012. The regulations set out who qualifies for a full right of appeal against a visa refusal to visit family in the UK.
These regulations change the appeal rights of family visit visa applicants. If you are applying to visit your uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin, or a relative who does not have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status in the UK, and the UK Border Agency refuses your visa application, you will not have a full right of appeal. A limited right of appeal will remain on human rights and race discrimination grounds. No changes are being made to the Rules governing who can qualify for entry to the UK as a visitor and genuine visitors are welcome. The Crime and Courts Bill, announced on 11 May 2012, will, subject to parliamentary approval, remove the full right of appeal against all family visit visa refusals. It is expected to come into force by 2014.
Following a successful pilot, Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced that a targeted interview system for students will be introduced this summer and will concentrate on high-risk applicants.
If you are a student, you may be interviewed and asked a number of questions about your immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, and financial circumstances. The UK Border Agency expects to interview up to 14,000 students in the next 12 months. They will refuse visas if they are not satisfied that you are a genuine student.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
'With more interviews and greater powers to refuse bogus students we will weed out abuse and protect the UK from those looking to play the system. 'Under the current system UK Border Agency officers are unable to refuse some applications even if they have serious concerns over the credibility of the student - we are toughening up the system to ensure genuine students benefit from our country's excellent education sector. 'Britain is open for business to the brightest and the best migrants but the message is clear - if you lie on your application form or try to hide your true motivation for coming to the UK then you will be found out and refused a visa.'
Today's announcement follows an interviewing pilot carried out by the agency last year to tackle concerns about the legitimacy of some applicants. More than 2,300 student visa applicants were interviewed in 13 overseas posts with the aim of testing how effective face-to-face interviews would be - in addition to existing strict application processes that consider fraud and other factors.
Under the pilot, around a fifth of the applicants were refused entry to the UK based on their interview. One of the main issues was the inability of interviewees to display the required level of English. Some were unable to answer basic questions in English without the aid of an interpreter - despite stating on their application forms that they had the necessary language qualifications to study at higher and further education standards in the UK.
From 1 October 2012 if you have overstayed your leave by more than 28 days any application for further leave will be refused. This change in the Immigration Rules will affect applicants applying for further leave under:
The UK Border Agency's global customer service standard for settlement applications is to make decisions on most applications within 12 weeks and all applications within 24 weeks. Due to a significant increase in the number of applications being received, the UK Border Agency is currently experiencing a delay in making decisions on settlement applications. The UK Border Agency is still making decisions on most applications within 12 weeks, but many applications are taking longer to resolve, which means that it may take up to 24 weeks for a decision to be made. The UK Border Agency is working hard to reduce the impact this has on customers and apologises for any inconvenience caused.http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2012/june/34-settlement-applications?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ukborderagency+%28UK+Border+Agency+latest+news%29
The government laid the Immigration Appeals (Family Visitor) Regulations 2012 in Parliament on 18 June 2012, which set out who qualifies for a full right of appeal against refusal of a visa to visit family in the UK.
These regulations will come into effect from 9 July 2012. No changes are being made to the rules governing who can qualify for entry to the UK as a visitor and genuine visitors are welcome.
These regulations will change the appeal rights of family visit visa applicants, for those applying to visit their uncle, aunt, nephew niece or first cousin, or a relative who does not have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status in the UK. They will no longer have a full right of appeal if refused. A limited right of appeal will remain for these people on human rights and race discrimination grounds.
As previously announced on 11 May 2012, the Crime and Courts Bill will, subject to Parliamentary approval, remove the full right of appeal against all family visit visa refusals. It is expected to come into force by 2014.
On 11 June 2012 the Government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules for non-European Economic Area (non-EEA) nationals applying to enter or remain in the UK on the family migration route. The new Immigration Rules will also unify consideration under the rules and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, by defining the basis on which a person can enter or remain in the UK on the basis of their family or private life.
Most of these changes will apply to new applicants from 9 July 2012.
The changes are part of the Government's programme of reform of the immigration routes and follow wide consultation and expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee. The changes include:
For more information about the changes that are being introduced and details of transitional arrangements, please see the full Statement of Intent on the UK Border Agency website.
The UK Border Agency is launching the premium customer service for sponsors on 6 April 2012.
The service has been developed to offer companies that sponsor international workers an enhanced level of customer service. The benefits include a dedicated contact point within the agency and access to public enquiry office appointments.
This is an optional package of benefits which will mean a more responsive service for both large corporations as well as small and medium sized business, who can also apply for greater support.
This is optional set of benefits is available to all A-rated sponsors who choose to apply and pay. Successful sponsors will receive an exclusive package of service benefits.
The agency has also made provision for those smaller organisations who are eligible for the lower licence fee. This is known as SME+ and is a reduced benefits package aimed specifically at smaller organisations.
Tier 2 and 5 sponsors will be eligible to apply for premium or SME+ customer service if they:
Rules have been laid in parliament confirming changes to Tier 2 of the points based system.
Following the Migration Advisory Committee report in October 2011 to advise on the 2012-13 annual limit for Tier 2 and associated policies, the government has after careful consideration, announced that:
· The Tier 2 (General) limit will remain at its current level of 20,700 for the next 2 years until April 2014.
· The skill level required by migrants who wish to work in the UK will increase. This means the number of middle-management jobs such as IT technicians and security managers will no longer be open to migrant workers. However, highly-skilled occupations such as architect, teacher or chemical engineer will still be available.
· Additionally, the rules for businesses around advertising highly paid and PhD jobs will be relaxed. This will cut bureaucracy, meaning companies will no longer have to advertise vacancies through JobCentrePlus, where they are unlikely to get applicants for these types of jobs, but will still have to advertise more widely. Furthermore, companies will now be able to select the best candidate for PhD level occupations, even if they require Tier 2 sponsorship.
These reforms will continue to restrict the ability of lesser skilled workers to enter the county and deny UK residents job opportunities. These changes are key to improving the selectivity of the UK immigration system - ensuring that only the brightest and the best are able to come to the UK and work.
Immigration minister, Damian Green said:
'The government has been clear that the UK is open for business and our limit has been designed with the industry's needs in mind.
'We believe there is no incompatibility between economic growth and controlling migration - our reformed, more selective immigration system can achieve both.'
Prospective workers will still need to have a graduate level job, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements before they are able to work here. Those earning a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit.
These changes are part of the government's radical overhaul of the immigration system. Firm action has already been taken on the student route, settlement and those coming here to work, in order to bring immigration levels back down to sustainable levels and make sure we receive only the brightest and best people. By summer the government will also have made changes to family migration routes.
On 6 April 2012 the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route will close. If you wish to apply for permission to stay in the UK under Tier 1 (Post-study work), your application must be submitted by 5 April 2012.
Applications can be submitted by standard post, or by courier. If you post your application, the post mark must clearly show the application was submitted on or before 5 April 2012.
If you send your application by courier, it must be received at our address shown on the application form by 17:00 on 5 April 2012.
Any application submitted on or before 5 April 2012, will be considered under the rules and guidance in force on 5 April 2012. You must ensure that you can meet the full criteria before applying. These criteria are set out in the Tier 1 (Post-study Work) policy guidance.
If you have not completed your studies, or have not received confirmation that you have been awarded a qualification, you do not meet the criteria and any application for Tier 1 (Post-study work) will be refused.
From 6 April 2012, following the closure of Tier 1 (Post-study work), if you have graduated after studying in the UK, you can apply for leave to remain in the UK under other immigration routes if you meet the criteria.
On 15 March 2012, a written ministerial statement was laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules. From 14 June 2012, the personal savings you must have to support your Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 5 application will increase. If you plan to submit an application under Tiers 1, 2 or 5 on or after 14 June 2012, you must ensure the correct funds are held in your account as soon as possible. For all applications under Tier 4, the personal savings you must have to support your application will increase from 06 April 2012. Please contact our offices for further information in respect of the level of funds that will be required from 06 April 2012 and 14 June 2012 respectively.http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsfragments/64-t5-maintenance-changes?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ukborderagency+%28UK+Border+Agency+latest+news%29
Today, Thursday 15 March 2012, a written ministerial statement has been laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules.
Most of the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. Some of the changes to Tier 2 will affect those who were granted leave after 6 April 2011. The changes include:
Migrants under the points-based system
Tier 1 - high-value migrants
· Closing the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route.
· Introducing the new Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) route.
· Introducing new provisions for switching from Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Post-study work) into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
· Renewing the 1000 place limit for Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) for each of the next 2 years.
Tier 2 - skilled workers
· Limiting the total amount of temporary leave that may be granted to a Tier 2 migrant to 6 years (which applies to those who entered after 6 April 2011).
· Introducing a new minimum pay requirement of £35,000 or the appropriate rate for the job, for Tier 2 general and sportsperson migrants who wish to settle here from April 2016 (with exemptions for those in PhD level and shortage occupation categories).
· Introducing a 'cooling-off period' across all the Tier 2 routes. Tier 2 migrants will need to wait for 12 months from the expiry of their previous visa before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.
· Introducing new post-study arrangements for graduates switching into Tier 2.
Tier 4 - students
Implementing the final set of changes to the student visa system that were announced in March 2011, including:
· Extending the interim limit for sponsors that have applied for educational oversight and Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have not yet been assessed.
· Introducing limits on the time that can be spent studying at degree level.
· Tightening work placement restrictions.
Tier 5 - temporary workers
· Limiting the length of time temporary workers can stay in the UK, under certain Government Authorised Exchange schemes, to a maximum of 12 months. The schemes affected are intern, work experience and youth exchange type programmes.
· Allowing sportspersons who enter under the Tier 5 creative and sporting sub-category to undertake some guest sports broadcasting work where they are not filling a permanent position.
Changes in all tiers of the points-based system
· Making curtailment mandatory where a migrant under Tiers 2, 4, or 5 of the points-based system has failed to start, or has ceased, their work or study with their sponsor. This includes cases where a sponsor notifies us, via the sponsor management system (SMS), that a migrant is no longer pursuing the purpose of their visa. The Rules will also set out the limited exceptions to mandatory curtailment.
· Reducing the curtailment threshold (the level of leave you have left which means that we will not normally pursue curtailment) from 6 months to 60 days.
· Increasing the funds applicants will need to provide evidence of, in order to meet the maintenance requirements for all routes in the points-based system. For Tier 4 and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. For Tier 1, Tier 2 and temporary workers under Tier 5 the changes will come into effect on 14 June 2012.
· The new visitor route will allow a small group of professionals, artists, entertainers and sportspersons who are invited to come to the UK to undertake short-term permitted fee paid engagements for up to 1 month.
Overseas domestic workers
· Restricting all overseas domestic workers (ODW) to only work for the employer with whom they entered the UK, or whom they came to join.
· Removing the right for all migrants under the ODW category to apply for settlement.
· Strengthening the requirement for the employer of an ODW to provide evidence of an existing employer relationship, and introducing a requirement for agreed, written terms and conditions of employment to be produced, as part of the application for entry clearance.
· Permitting all ODWs who have applied for leave to enter or remain on or before 5 April 2012, to continue to be treated under Immigration Rules in place on that date.
· Restricting ODWs in private households to work for an employer who is a visitor to the UK. Permission to stay in the UK will be limited to a maximum of 6 months or the period of the employer's stay whichever is shorter. Removing the current provision for ODWs to be accompanied by dependants.
· Permitting ODWs in diplomatic households to apply to extend their stay for 12 months at a time up to a maximum of 5 years, or the length of the diplomat's posting, whichever is shorter.
· Introducing a Premium Customer Service for those A-rated sponsors in Tiers 2 and 5 who wish to apply and pay for a range of benefits. The UK Border Agency will publish the full range of service benefits in due course. The service will launch in the 2012-13 financial year.
In addition to these changes, the government is also making amendments to the extension of leave to remain.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have recommended the annual limit on skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area should remain unchanged for the next financial year.
Following its first review of the limit, which was introduced in 2011 and applies to non-EEA migrants applying to work in the UK under Tier 2 of the immigration system, the MAC recommends it remain at its current level of 21,700. Current estimates suggest that the number of Tier 2 visas issued in the 12 months to April 2012 could be as low as 10,000. The MAC was also asked to look at the number of intra-company transfers. It has not recommended any changes to the policy, but advises that it should be kept under review and the use of intra-company transfers for third-party contracting should be monitored closely.
Chair of the MAC, Professor David Metcalf CBE, said:
'Although the current Tier 2 limit is undersubscribed the MAC recognises that cutting it may affect the perception of the UK as an attractive place to do business. 'The Tier 2 system is set up to prevent displacement of UK workers but intra-company transfers are not part of that limit and account for the lion's share of those visas. The use of this route for third-party contracting needs to be kept under review and we have recommended three methods to cut the numbers if necessary.'
In addition the MAC was asked to look at the effect of raising the required skill level for Tier 2 migrants from National Qualification Framework Level 4 to National Qualification Framework Level 6. It found that raising this level would cut the number of occupations that qualify for Tier 2 visas from 121 to 89 which would exclude occupations such as office managers, IT technicians and health and safety officers. It is estimated that this change would reduce inflows through Tier 2 by 7 per cent. Finally, the MAC looked at whether some high paid jobs should be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). It recommends that highly-paid and PhD-level jobs should be exempt from the RLMT requirement to advertise in Jobcentre Plus.
As part of the government's commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
Immigration Minister Damian Green has today announced the government's response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK.
A new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently. The new rules will break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever. Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. Skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
Damian Green said:
'Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best. 'Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.'
The government intends to:
The government also plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.
The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system. The changes announced today will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.
Full details of the proposals, a summary of responses to the consultation, and Damian Green's written ministerial statement can all be found on the Home Office website: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/immigration/employment-related-settlement/
The UK Border Agency has today completed the rollout of biometric residence permits in the UK. This significantly increases the number of biometric residence permits issued by the agency. From 29 February 2012, all applicants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) applying to stay in the UK for more than 6 months will have to register their fingerprints and digital facial image. Successful applicants will be issued a biometric residence permit as evidence of immigration status and entitlements in the UK. This includes refugees and those granted settlement.
Since the rollout began in November 2008 the UK Border Agency has issued around 650,000 biometric residence permits, containing fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip. Biometric residence permits are an important step in fighting immigration abuse and illegal working and make it easier for employers to verify a foreign national's right to work in the UK.
Employers can download guidance on checking biometric residence permits and their security features from the UK Border Agency's "Checking biometric residence permits" page. From 31 May 2012 the UK Border Agency will launch a new automated online checking service to provide quick and easy real time checks on biometric residence permits, the holder's identity and their right to work.
The Post Office Ltd will provide a service for applicants to provide their biometric information throughout a network of locations across the UK. This will ensure that a biometric enrolment facility is within reasonable travelling distance for most of applicants. The additional Post Office locations will join the 17 branches already offering biometric enrolment. The UK Border Agency expects the additonal branches to be operational from March 2012, with all 104 locations operating by 10 April 2012.
New rules will come into force within weeks to cut abuse of the student visa route and ensure that only the brightest and the best students can stay and work in the UK, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.
Students can currently work in the UK for 2 years after their studies have finished, under the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route. But from 6 April, a more selective system will come into effect so only the most talented international graduates can apply to stay in the UK for work purposes.
Only those who graduate from a university, and have an offer of a skilled job at a salary of at least £20,000 (or more in some cases) from a reputable employer accredited by the UK Border Agency, will be able to continue living and working in the UK in order to benefit the British economy.
The rules are part of a radical overhaul of the student visa system, which will:
Damian Green said: 'It is vital that we continue to attract the brightest and the best international students, but we have to be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay. 'In the past, too many students have come to the UK to work rather than study, and this abuse must end. With the introduction of the Graduate Entrepreneur route and the restrictions on student work, we are reforming the system to deliver immigration to benefit Britain.'
For full details of the changes that are coming into effect, you can download a statement of intent from the Home Office website.
Immigration minister Damian Green has issued a written ministerial statement proposing an increase in visa fees, and an increase in UK-based visa application fees.
The proposals will be laid in Parliament in 2 separate regulations and, subject to Parliamentary approval, the government hopes to bring the new fees into force from 6 April 2012.
Damian Green said:
'It is only fair that those who use and benefit from the immigration system contribute a higher share of the cost of running it - reducing the burden on the UK taxpayer.' Fees will increase by only 2 per cent in the majority of cases, but there will be higher increases on certain routes. A full table of the proposed fees is included in the written ministerial statement, which can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website.
The creation of a sustainable selective immigration system that encourages the brightest and best to come to the UK was reaffirmed today by Immigration Minister Damian Green.
At a speech at the Policy Exchange, the Minister expressed a desire to 'raise the tone of the immigration debate' and start building a national consensus on how immigration can be made to work for Britain.
He committed to pressing on with sweeping reforms that impose restrictions on those migrants the country does not need, while developing a greater selectivity to attract those migrants the country wants.
Damian Green said:
'We need to know not just that the right number of people are coming here, but that the right people are coming here. People that will benefit Britain - not just those who will benefit by Britain. 'We have laid the foundations for a sustainable system where we get numbers down and keep them down. Now we shall make it work for Britain.' The government has committed to reduce net migration numbers from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands. In the latest published quarterly figures, compared to a year previously, there are early signs of a positive impact on numbers following restrictions imposed by this government on non-EEA workers and students.
The government will soon be announcing further changes to family migration and reforms to settlement, breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration. It will also be completing its changes to eliminate abuse of the student visa route and is currently reviewing the annual limit on skilled economic migrants. In his speech the Minister expressed his intention that the long-term transformation of British immigration policy will introduce greater selectivity. He added that the 'points based system' of the past should ultimately be replaced by a 'contribution-based system' where migrants are checked to ensure they will add to quality of life in the UK. This is already starting with the development of more selective routes for entrepreneurs, investors and those with exceptional talent alongside existing routes for entertainers, trainees and researchers.
The Minister confirmed the introduction of a new route for international graduate entrepreneurs - international students who have engaged in innovative entrepreneurial activity during their studies and want to stay on afterwards to develop their business ideas. The government will also improve the system for some short-term business visitors and entertainers to ensure world-class performers are encouraged to come here.
Changes to the Immigration Rules have today been laid before Parliament that will enable applicants applying under Tier 2 and 5 and their dependants who are in the UK to apply online for permission to stay (further leave to remain) in the UK
This service will be launched on 14 February 2012.
If you want to apply online you should complete the online application form, make an online payment and if you want to use our premium service, make an online booking for an appointment at a public enquiry office.
Immigration rule changes made today to enable online applications
In order for your application to be valid you will need to meet the following requirements:
If you are applying under the non-premium postal route, you must:
Date of application
Your application date will be the date when you submit your online application using our website.
Your application fee will be the fee that is in place on the date when you submit your application online. You will not pay a different fee if the fee changes between the date when you submit your application online and the date when you are required to submit your documents or attend an appointment at the public enquiry office.
You can find the statement of changes (HC 1733) in the UK Border Agency's Statement of Changes section.
From 19 December 2011, the UK government's Ministry of Justice is introducing new fees for some asylum and immigration appeals, and changing the way customers can submit their appeals.
This new policy reflects the government's view that users of the appeals system, who can afford to pay, should contribute to the system's cost. Fees of £80 for a paper consideration and £140 for an oral hearing will be applied to appeals against decisions taken on or after 19 December 2011.
These are low-level fees that should be affordable for people who are required to pay. The proposed fees are not set at full cost recovery, but only recover around 25 per cent of the full cost of administering the appeal system. The government considers that it is an appropriate balance between low, affordable fees which enable access to justice, and a meaningful contribution towards the costs of the Tribunal.
Applicants who appeal decisions dated 19 December 2011 or later from outside the UK will be required to submit their appeals directly to the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) in Leicester and will no longer be able to send them to the visa application centre overseas that made the initial decision.
Applicants who want to appeal a decision dated before 19 December 2011 from outside the UK are still able to send their appeal to the visa section that made the initial decision.
A new online payment facility will be available shortly. This will allow applicants to make an appeal and payment online for decisions dated from 19 December 2011. Appellants must be able to pay using a MasterCard or a Visa credit or debit card or be submitting an appeal which does not require a fee to be paid. Appellants can ask another person to pay the fee on their behalf using their payment card details, with their permission.
The Ministry of Justice will be introducing appeal fee charges for some asylum and immigration appeals from 19 December 2011.
People who want to appeal against a decision notice dated 19 December 2011 or later will need to pay a fee. The appeal fee will apply to most categories of visas and decisions. Any exemptions to the fees will be outlined by the Ministry of Justice. This will not affect any decision notices that are dated before 19 December.
Also, from 19 December people will need to lodge their appeals at the tribunal in the UK. We will no longer accept appeals at any of our overseas visa application centres.
Full guidance about the changes will be published on the Ministry of Justice website from 19 December 2011.
It will soon be much easier for employers to carry out checks to let them know whether foreign nationals have the right to work in the UK, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.
From spring 2012, firms will be able to go online to verify that the details contained on a foreign employee's biometric residence permit (BRP) are correct. Damian Green said:
'It is vital that we work with employers to give them the tools they need to meet their obligations. 'Our new online checking service will also turn up the pressure on those who wish to live and work here illegally. The message is clear - the UK is no longer a soft touch for illegal workers.'
It was also announced that from 29 February 2012 BRPs will be issued to more categories of foreign nationals, including refugees and those granted permission to settle in the UK. BRPs, which hold a person's fingerprints and photograph on a secure chip, are issued to non-EEA nationals with permission to remain in the UK for more than 6 months. They are an important step forward in the fight against immigration abuse and illegal working.
BRPs are simplifying the process of checking an individual's right to work by replacing the wide range of documents currently in use. The new online checking service for employers will enable quick and easy real-time checks on permits and their holder's identity and right to work in the UK.
Around 600,000 BRPs have been issued since November 2008. From next year they will cover all those applying from inside the UK to remain here for more than 6 months. To meet increased demand and provide foreign nationals with more locations around the UK where fingerprints and photographs can be taken, the immigration minister has today announced that a contract for the collection of this information has been awarded to the Post Office Ltd.
The contract will run for 4 years and Post Office Ltd will offer a network of around 100 locations from spring 2012.
A minimum salary of between £18,600 and £25,700 before tax should be introduced for UK residents sponsoring a partner or dependent for citizenship, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended today.
The MAC was asked to identify a salary that would prevent any sponsor, their spouse or their dependents from becoming a burden on the state.
The MAC was asked by the government to consider what the minimum income threshold should be for a British resident sponsoring a spouse, partner or dependent for settlement in the UK under the family route. This was part of the government's review of the family migration routes.
Presently the threshold is an annual income of £5,500 after tax, excluding housing costs. This is equivalent to £13,700 before tax and including housing costs. The thresholds are based on the income levels at which a family is not entitled to state benefits or contributes at least as much to the public finances as it consumes in services. A salary threshold of £18,600 would reduce settlement through the family route by 45 per cent, the MAC estimates. A minimum of £25,700 would reduce it by 63 per cent.
Chairman of the MAC, Professor David Metcalf CBE, said:
'The current threshold of £5,500 seems low considering the government's desire to ensure new migrants settling in the UK are not a burden on the state. 'Our recommendations are made on a purely economic basis and we recognise that family migration is not determined by economics alone. However our analysis suggests there is justification for raising the pay threshold.' Potential methods for calculating higher salary thresholds to account for child and adult dependants are also set out in the MAC report.
On 18 October 2011 the government announced that it was accepting recommendations from the Independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on changes to the shortage occupation list. Specialist jobs that are no longer required in the UK have been removed from a government-approved list that helps to ensure the UK only accepts migrant workers that the country needs.
The shortage occupation is part of the Tier 2 immigration route via the points based system. Highly skilled migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) seeking to work in the UK must apply for visas via this route. Employers can only bring someone into the UK under Tier 2 if the job is on the shortage occupation list or if they pass a resident labour market test (no suitable resident workers apply after advertising the job in the UK first for 4 weeks).
Occupations that the MAC recommended be removed from the list include:
Minimum annual pay is the best way to select which highly skilled migrant workers should be eligible for settlement, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended.
In a separate report the MAC has also advised that relaxing the current employment restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania would cause further disruption to the UK labour market.
The MAC was commissioned by the government in June to identify the most suitable economic criteria for determining which Tier 2 migrant workers could settle permanently in the UK and what the economic effects of restricting or removing settlement rights would be.
The MAC has made the following recommendations:
'After extensive consultation the MAC has recommended a pay threshold as the best way to decide if a worker can stay in the UK. This is based on sound economic theory. 'Imposing greater controls on settlement may mean that the annual limit on entry into Tier 1 and Tier 2 would not need to be reduced as much as it would otherwise to meet the government's objective of reduced net migration.'
A number of changes have already been made to the Tier 2 migrant workers route by the government which are likely to see the number of settlement applications fall. Therefore, a 'do nothing' option is defensible but, equally, the MAC believes the government's intention to control settlement numbers is legitimate.
The effects of any change will not be fully felt until 2016. This will allow time for employers and government to work together to upskill the UK workforce in those occupations most affected. The MAC was also asked to look at the consequences of maintaining or lifting the current employment restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania.
The government has the option of lifting the transitional controls at the end of 2011 or keeping them in place for a further 2 years when they must be lifted under EU law.
After analysing the UK labour market the MAC has concluded that lifting of the restrictions could see more Bulgarian and Romanians come to the UK for work. There is a risk that this would have an adverse impact on the UK labour market and UK employment.
Professor Metcalf said:
'While there is uncertainty about how many additional A2 workers would come to the UK if restrictions were lifted, it is clear there would be an increase. The UK labour market is currently seriously disturbed and there is a risk that lifting the restrictions would exacerbate this.' You can download these reports from the Migration Advisory Council page on the UK Border Agency website.
The UK Border Agency has issued new policy guidance following the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 45.
This case challenged the requirement under paragraph 277 of the Immigration Rules for both foreign spouses and their sponsors in the UK to meet a minimum age of 21 before the foreign spouse could be granted a visa to enter or remain as a spouse or partner. Paragraph 277 (along with other paragraphs of the Immigration Rules) was amended on 27 November 2008 to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21. The Supreme Court has ruled that, whilst they recognised that the Secretary of State was pursuing a legitimate and rational aim of seeking to address forced marriage, the change to the rule (increasing the minimum marriage visa age from 18 to 21) disproportionately interfered with the Article 8 rights of those who were in genuine marriages.
The guidance primarily affects applicants whose applications for entry clearance or leave as a fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner were refused under paragraphs 277, 289AA, or 295AA of the Immigration Rules solely because they or their sponsor were aged between 18 and 20 and whose application was refused on that basis between 27 November 2008 and October 2011. This applies to applications made within or outside the UK. The guidance sets out how such applicants can apply for a review of the original decision to refuse a visa which might now result in a visa being issued.
Changes to the Immigration Rules have been laid in Parliament today to reinstate a minimum age of 18 for a spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner and for their sponsor in order to qualify for entry clearance, leave to enter, leave to remain or a variation of leave on that basis. These rules will come into effect on 28 November 2011. The new policy guidance explains how applicants affected by the judgment can request a review of an earlier refusal due to the age requirement by 31 May 2012. Further information on how to request a review can be found under the partners and families section, Husband, wife or civil partner, Unmarried or same-sex partner, and Fiance(e) or proposed civil partner categories on the UK Border Agency website.
Tough new rules and enforcement action to stop abuse of the student visa system mean that over 450 education providers will no longer be able to sponsor new international students. In total these colleges could have brought more than 11,000 students into the UK to study each year.
New UK Border Agency regulations have significantly raised the standards education providers must meet before they can bring international students to the UK. So far, over 400 colleges have lost their right to recruit international students after they failed to sign up for the new inspection system. As well as cutting abuse, the new standards will help ensure that genuine international students receive the highest quality education.
In addition, a targeted UK Border Agency investigation into more than 100 colleges has led to 51 having their licences to recruit international students revoked. The investigation followed a spike in applications from South Asia just before the English language requirement rules were tightened. More than 4,500 of these applications to study have been refused or withdrawn as a result.
One college advertised classes even though the website said it was shut for maintenance, while another could not even produce a list of students enrolled or a timetable of classes. On inspection, others could not produce any records of student attendance, or evidence of checking student qualifications.
Immigration Minister, Damian Green said:
'Widespread abuse of the student visa system has gone on for too long and the changes we have made are beginning to bite.
'Too many institutions were offering international students an immigration service rather than an education and too many students have come to the UK with the aim of getting work and bringing over family members. Only first-class education providers should be given licences to sponsor international students.
'We have curbed the opportunities to work during study and bring in family members. We have also introduced new language requirements to ensure we only attract genuine students whose primary motivation is to study.'
As well as going through tough new inspections, colleges that want to keep bringing in international students must also meet new higher sponsorship standards to ensure they are fulfilling their immigration responsibilities. Those who do not meet these standards will be removed from the sponsorship register.
The UK Border Agency has also created a list of more than 2,000 banks and financial institutions who can no longer provide evidence to verify a student has sufficient funds for their course. If a bank is on the list, a student citing that institution will not be granted a visa.
Further measures to tighten the student regime are due in April. The post study work route, which has allowed graduates free labour market access, will be closed and students wishing to stay and work will need to apply under the skilled workers visa route. There will also be new time limits on student visas and tougher rules on work placements. In the meantime the UK Border Agency is continually monitoring the behaviour of all sponsors and will take action against any that are not complying with standards of education provision or immigration control.
The changes to the student route form part of the Government's comprehensive package to overhaul the immigration system, taking action on families, settlement, those coming here to work, as well as students, in order to bring immigration levels back down to sustainable levels.
On 6 April 2011, the Immigration Rules were amended to introduce a salary requirement for settlement applications made by work permit holders and migrants under Tier 2 of the points-based system. Their applications must now include written confirmation from their employer or sponsor that they are being paid at or above the appropriate rate for their job as set out in the Tier 2 codes of practice http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/business-sponsors/points/sponsoringmigrants/employingmigrants/codesofpractice/
From 31 October 2011, there will be further changes to the Immigration Rules. Work permit holders and Tier 2 migrants will need to provide specified documents to confirm that they are being paid at or above the appropriate rate for their job. This is in addition to the employer's confirmation.
From 31 October, any settlement application by a Tier 2 migrant or a work permit holder must include:
Before the UKBA amended the Immigration Rules in April to incorporate an income requirement for settlement, they conducted an equality impact assessment. The 31 October changes to the Rules are considered to be relatively minor and do not change that assessment. The UKBA will continue to have regard to the equality considerations of these changes, and will work to limit or mitigate, where possible, any adverse impact that is identified.
The UK Border Agency has made some amendments to the list of approved English language test providers for applications made under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the points-based system and for spouse or partner applications.
The amendments include:
The UK Border Agency has made some amendments to the list of approved English language test providers for applications made under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the points-based system and for spouse or partner applications.
The amendments include:
From January 2012, Taiwanese young people will be eligible to apply for a youth mobility scheme visa for the UK.
The announcement comes as UK and Taiwanese authorities agreed to allow 1,000 young Taiwanese each year to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years and the same number of young Britons to come to Taiwan.
David Campbell, director of the British Trade and Cultural Office in Taiwan said:
'We are extremely pleased to welcome Taiwanese young people to our youth mobility programme. This is a significant opportunity for both the UK and Taiwan, an opportunity to further strengthen and build on the cultural and economic ties that exist between us and to promote mutual understanding. It gives young Taiwanese the opportunity to experience life in the UK and to improve their English, and for us to benefit from having them live within our communities.'
James Sharp, director, Asia Pacific, UK Border Agency, said:
'The Youth Mobility Scheme, which comes under Tier 5 of the UK's Points Based System for visa applications, will open to Taiwanese applicants in early January 2012. Under the scheme those aged between 18 and 30 will be eligible to apply, and will be able to live, work and study in the UK without the need for a sponsor.' Before applying for a visa, Taiwanese applicants will first need a certificate of sponsorship from Taiwan's National Youth Commission. The National Youth Commission expects to announce further details on this process on 1 November 2011.
The Immigration Minister Damian Green has reaffirmed the importance of tackling abuse of the family migration route, and promoting better community integration for those who come to live permanently in the UK.
In a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies on the 15 September, the Minister highlighted research that supports the government's proposals on family migration. The proposals which are currently being consulted on, will prevent the family route being used to bypass our immigration laws, while welcoming those who want to make a life here with their family and contribute to their local community.
Reports on family migration to the UK show:
'These are sensitive issues which have been ignored for far too long but ones we are determined to tackle. 'We want a system that lets everyone know where they stand and what their responsibilities are. If your marriage is not genuine, if you have no interest in this country and its way of life, if you are coming here to live off benefits, don't come in the first place. 'That is why our focus is on delivering better family migration - better for migrants, for communities and for the UK as a whole.'
Plans to reform family migration are outlined in an ongoing consultation which includes proposals to:
Early findings from the consultation launched in July 2011 show broad public support for many of the changes the government has proposed. The great majority back the proposed requirement that spouses and partners must have to understand everyday English before being allowed to settle here permanently.
Full details of the consultation on family migration can be found on the UK Border Agency website. To ensure that as many people as possible can have their say on the consultation and question the Immigration Minister on the proposals, a YouTube
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommends the list be reduced to cover 190,000 employees (not migrants) or well under 1 per cent of the UK workforce. In 2008, before the MAC recommended changes to it, that list covered over 1 million employees.
The occupations in the list are the only positions open to migrants from outside the European Economic Area under the shortage occupation route of Tier 2 of the of Points Based System and Tier 2 is subject to an annual limit of 20,700.
The latest MAC recommended list provides a more detailed breakdown of the sectors of the labour market affected by shortage. This has enabled the MAC to identify individual job titles rather than broader occupations.
Professor David Metcalf CBE, Chairman, MAC, said:
'Although the proportion of the labour market covered by our new recommended list is lower than before, our recommendation will have only a limited impact on migration volumes because overall migration through Tier 2 is limited. However, the list is more selective than before: it is targeted specifically on those job titles where there is currently a clear evidence of shortage.
'We think it is vital that the government, employers and the training sector take concerted action to raise the skill levels of the UK workforce, especially in long-standing shortage occupation areas. This will reduce the UK's reliance on migrant workers in the long term and provide real benefits for the economy as a whole.'
A total of 29 job titles are recommended for removal from the list. They include: secondary school biology teachers; consultants in obstetrics and gynaecology; paediatric surgery; nuclear medicine and paediatric dentistry; veterinary surgeons; and tutti orchestral musicians.
The 33 recommended additions to the list include: consultants in emergency medicine; actuaries; specific roles within the visual effects and 2D/3D computer animation for film; television and the video games sectors; high integrity pipe welders; environmental scientists; and operations managers in the decommissioning areas of the nuclear industry and geochemists. These will help to ensure the UK remains a leading global player in these fields.
The government will now consider the MAC's recommendations and respond in due course.
The UK Border Agency’s public consultation on reforms to work routes (including routes that lead to settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic workers) closes on Friday 9 September.
The consultation sets out the government's proposals for breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration.
Under the proposals, migrants coming to the UK to work on temporary visas will no longer be able to apply for settlement.
The key proposals include:
The Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category of the UK's points-based system is now open for applications.
The new category is for people who are internationally recognised as world-leading or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts.
Applications under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) must be made from abroad. You cannot apply if you are already in the UK.
To find out whether and how you can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) visa, see the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) section on the UKBA website.
The government has today announced the way that it will encourage exceptionally talented leaders in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts to come to the UK.
The new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will open on 9 August 2011. This new category will facilitate not only those who have already been recognised but also those with the potential to be recognised as leaders in their respective fields. There is a limit of 1,000 places in the first year of operation. There will be 500 places available between the 9 August and 30 November and a further 500 places available from the 1 December to 31 March 2012. The number of places will be reviewed at the end of March 2012.
It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for recommendation, and we have also published the criteria for their endorsement.
While the government has allotted a number of places to each body, it will be open to the bodies to transfer additional places to those with more demand if this becomes necessary.
Those admitted under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will initially be granted permission to stay for 3 years and 4 months. They will then be able to extend their stay for a further 2 years, and settlement may be available after 5 years’ residence in the UK.
The UK Border Agency has published new versions of the application form and policy guidance for Tier 1 (Post-study work) of the points-based system, for applications made on or after 18 July 2011.
If you are a trainee doctor on a Foundation Programme with permission to stay in the UK under Tier 4, you can now switch into Tier 1 (Post-study work) up to 1 month before the date when your programme ends.
Also, a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules has been laid in Parliament. This statement sets out more details of how the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category will operate. The UK Border Agency has updated the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) section with revised policy guidance, the criteria to be applied by their designated competent bodies, and the code of practice for the designated competent bodies.
The government has today announced proposals to crack down on sham and forced marriages, as part of a new consultation on better family migration.
The consultation also seeks to ensure that family migrants can integrate into society, and opens up debate on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the circumstances where the public interest in removing someone from the UK should outweigh the right to respect for family life. Immigration minister Damian Green said:
'This consultation is about better family migration - better for migrants, communities, and the UK as a whole.
'We welcome those who want to make a life here with their family, but too often in the past the family route has been abused as a means to bypass our immigration laws.
'That includes too many times when we have seen Article 8 used to place the rights of criminals and illegal migrants above the rights of the British public. That balance must be redressed where there is a clear public interest in removing someone from the UK.
'Our message is clear - we will not tolerate abuses. And if you cannot support your foreign spouse or partner, you cannot expect the taxpayer to do it for you.'
The consultation focuses on stopping abuse, promoting integration and reducing burdens on the taxpayer. Its key proposals include:
At present, anyone who is refused a family visitor visa has the right of appeal. In 2009/10, these appeals - which were often based on new information which should have been submitted with the original application - made up approximately 40 per cent of all immigration appeals and cost around £40 million.
To reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer, and deliver an appropriate system for applicants, the government is reviewing this right of appeal. Appeals based on grounds of race discrimination and the European Convention on Human Rights will continue to be allowed, but the government is inviting views on whether an appeal right should be retained for family visitor visas in other circumstances.
To read the consultation document and take part in the family migration consultation, see the Consultations section of the UKBA website.
The consultation was announced by Damian Green this morning in a written ministerial statement, which you can download from the UKBA website.
The consultation is part of the government's major overhaul of the immigration system. It follows the changes that have already been made to the work and study routes, and the ongoing consultation on settlement rights.
On 6 April the UK Border Agency published a new list of approved English language test providers for visa applications made under Tiers 1, 2, and 4 of the points-based system and for spouse or partner applications. On 08 July 2011 the UKBA has made some changes to this list.
The updated list includes:
Significant changes to the Tier 4 student route of the points-based system have come into effect today.
The Home Office have revised the Immigration Rules relating to Tier 4 in order to:
The Home Office have also revised the application forms for Tier 4 (General), Tier 4 (child) and dependants under the points-based system. The new versions of these forms should be used with immediate effect. The changes to the Immigration Rules were laid in Parliament on 13 June. A previous news story gives full details of all the changes and associated amendments that come into force today.
The latest revisions follow the Home Secretary's statement to Parliament about student visas, and the publication of a statement of intent, in March.
In response to queries from sponsors, the UK Border Agency has produced a document clarifying aspects of the current review of the student immigration system. The document answers some frequently asked questions raised by sponsors in the following areas:
You can download the document from the UKBA website via the following link:
The UK Border Agency is setting up new arrangements for skilled workers who came here under work routes that have now closed, so that they can extend their stay in the UK to a total of 5 years.
When they introduced Tier 2 of the points-based system in 2008, they made transitional arrangements so that migrants in closed work categories could apply to extend their stay under Tier 2. We intended that their permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') under Tier 2 would take their total stay in a work category to 5 years, but the UKBA is aware that some migrants may have been granted an incorrect extension owing to technical restrictions.
UKBA will soon introduce arrangements for these migrants to get additional leave to remain, taking their total stay to 5 years. This additional leave will be granted free of charge.
Can you apply?
To qualify for the additional leave, you must have previously been given permission to stay for less than 2 years as:
Additionally, you must meet the following requirements:
If you are granted additional leave, this does not guarantee that you will qualify for permission to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain') when you have been here for 5 years - you will need to meet all the settlement criteria in force at the time when you apply for settlement.
How to apply:
To apply for additional leave under these arrangements, you will need to use new application form T2 (W). The UK Border Agency will publish this application form on their website in early August 2011. You will not need to obtain a new certificate of sponsorship, but you will need to:
Your family members will need to apply on a T2 (W) (Dependent) application form, which will also be available on the UK Border Agency website in early August 2011.
The next set of changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tier 4 - the student tier - of the points-based system has been laid in Parliament today. The changes will come into effect on 4 July 2011.
The Home Secretary announced changes to the Immigration Rules in a statement to Parliament on 22 March, following a major public consultation on reforming Tier 4. The first set of changes came into effect on 21 April.
The aim of the revised Immigration Rules is to deliver a strong migration system which tackles immigration abuse, while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.
From 4 July the Home Office will:
These changes were announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green in a written ministerial statement this morning.
A revised version of the Home Office policy guidance document for Tier 4 migrants, and a statement of intent summarising the new student visa policy, is available from the Home Office website.
The Home Office is also announcing today that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) will extend their activities to cover privately funded providers, in line with their commitment that all privately funded sponsors would be inspected or reviewed by one of the publicly recognised bodies by the end of 2012.
There are also a small number of changes being made to bring into effect:
Migrants coming to the UK to work on temporary visas will no longer be able to apply for settlement, under proposals announced by the government today.
The government is implementing reforms to the immigration system which will reduce the level of immigration to sustainable levels. Today's announcement is the next step in this process.
Launching a public consultation on reforms to the work routes leading to settlement, Immigration Minister Damian Green set out plans to re-classify visas as either 'temporary' or 'permanent' and introduce stricter criteria for those who want to stay.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
'The proposals I am making today are aimed at breaking the link between temporary and permanent migration.
'Settlement has become almost automatic for those who choose to stay. This needs to change. The immigration system has got to be made to work properly.
'We want the brightest and best workers to come to the UK, make a strong contribution to our economy while they are here, and then return home.' Under the current system, many workers are allowed to apply to stay here permanently. In 2010, 84,000 people who entered the UK for employment were granted settlement. This compares to less than 10,000 who qualified for employment related settlement in 1997.
The government has already implemented new settlement requirements for skilled workers entering under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, which require applicants to demonstrate English-language proficiency, continue to meet the salary requirements and to pass a new criminality test.
Key proposals under consideration in the 12 week consultation are as follows:
'A small number of exceptional migrants will be able to stay permanently but for the majority, coming here to work will not lead automatically to settlement in the UK.' The Government has committed to reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to bring immigration levels under control. The settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker reforms will work alongside the annual limit, the new student visa reforms and changes to the family route which will be consulted on later this year.
Following the recent announcement of changes to the English language requirements for students under Tier 4 of the points-based system, the UK Border Agency has produced a document clarifying the requirements for students and sponsors.
You can download the document, which provides answers to some frequently asked questions, from the UKBA website via the following link::
An end to late evidence in points-based system appeals will help stop misuse of the system, Immigration Minister Damian Green said today.
From Monday 23 May, tribunals will not consider evidence submitted after an application has been made, in appeals relating to applications made in the UK under the points-based system.
UK Border Agency statistics show that around two-thirds of appeals allowed by immigration judges are due to late evidence being submitted.
The rules change is designed to end unnecessary appeals and help make sure that applications are right first time. It will apply to all applications made within the UK through the points-based system.
Damian Green said:
'For too long, the taxpayer has had to shoulder the burden of a system which allowed individuals to drag out their appeal by submitting new evidence at the last minute.
'The changes I am making today will put an end to this practice for good.The minister added that this is one of a raft of improvements that will make the system 'more robust, efficient and cost effective'.
The government has already introduced an annual limit on economic migrants from outside the EU, as well as making major reforms to the student visa system. These measures are aimed at attracting the brightest and the best, while reducing net migration and tackling abuse of the system.
The Minister announced the commencement of the rules change in a written ministerial statement, which you can download from the following link:
Immigration Minister Damian Green has today responded to a House of Commons report, saying that it highlights exactly why the government is making radical changes to the immigration system.
The Public Accounts Committee report into the government's points-based system looked at how the UK Border Agency keeps track of migrants, and whether the different visa routes into the UK work sufficiently.
It also examined the intra-company transfer (ICT) visa route under Tier 2 of the points-based system, which allows multinational businesses to fill temporary skills gaps by bringing their existing foreign staff to the UK.
Since the committee's investigation last year, the new government has overhauled the system, with tough enforcement against rule-breakers and a shake-up of the work and student routes into the country.
Damian Green said:
'This report demonstrates why the immigration system needs radical reform.
'This government has already introduced an annual limit on economic migrants, including a significant tightening of the ICT rules, and sweeping changes to the student visa system. Later this year we will propose a shake-up of the family and settlement route.
'I want enforcement and compliance to be the cornerstone of our immigration system, and we are making it more difficult for people to live in the UK illegally by taking action against employers that flout our rules.
'Any employers found to be abusing our immigration system risk losing their license to sponsor any migrant workers.'
If you suspect that illegal workers are being employed at a business, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Anonymity can be assured.
Changes have come into effect on 21 April 2011 affecting Tier 4 - the student tier - of the points-based system.
The changes to the Immigration Rules were announced by the Home Secretary in a statement to Parliament on 22 March. http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2011/march/54-student-visas. They follow a major public consultation on reforming Tier 4.
The aim of the revised Rules is to deliver a strong migration system which tackles immigration abuse, while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.
Details of the changes were outlined in a news story on 22 March
On 4 April 2011 Parliament approved the Remedial Order that will abolish the certificate of approval scheme. This means that the scheme will end on 9 May 2011.
At present, any migrant who is already in the UK and is subject to immigration control must apply for a certificate of approval before they can get married or register a civil partnership in this country (unless they are getting married within the Anglican Church).
The government is now seeking to remedy the declaration by the UK courts that the scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (read with Article 12). Additionally, changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage.
Entering into a sham marriage does not entitle migrants to any right to remain in the UK. The UK Border Agency will continue to investigate suspected abuse and, where possible, disrupt marriages before they take place. If we uncover marriages that are not genuine, we will challenge them and prosecute where possible.
The first major change to reduce immigration into the UK was delivered on 06 April 2011, as the government's new annual limit comes into force.
This, along with radical changes recently introduced to the student route and plans to tackle permanent settlement, will see net migration fall back down to the tens of thousands.
Under the annual limit, employers will be able to bring only 20,700 people from outside the EU to work in skilled professions under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system. A further 1,000 visas will be made available to people of 'exceptional talent', to ensure that Britain remains open to the brightest and the best.
The 1,000 exceptional talent visas will be given to those who experts believe will make the biggest contribution to science and the arts in the UK.
To ensure that only those with the skills we need can come to the UK to work, prospective workers will need to have a graduate-level job offer, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements. Those earning a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the limit.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
'The annual limit will not only help reduce immigration down to sustainable levels but will protect those businesses and institutions that are vital to our economy.
'The new system was designed in consultation with business. We have made clear that as the recovery continues, we need employers to look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.
'We are overhauling all routes of entry to tackle abuses, make the system more effective and bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands.'
The Intra Company Transfer route (ICT), which is not part of the annual limit, will also be changed in 3 ways:
The 'Exceptional Talent' route will be open to current and prospective leaders in the fields of science, engineering and the arts and will allow us to continue to facilitate those who have the most to offer the UK.
Under the new visa rules for investors, those who invest large sums of money will see their right to settle permanently in the UK speed up. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years. This compares with the minimum 5-year requirement that is currently in place. Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly, if they create 10 jobs or turn over £5 million in a 3-year period.
In addition to these changes, new rules for settlement and asylum will also come into effect today.
The changes to the settlement criteria include:
A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules has today been laid before Parliament, setting out how the student visa system will be reformed from next month. The reforms, which affect Tier 4 of the points-based system, were announced at the end of March 2011.
To accompany the statement of changes in the Immigration Rules bringing the first set of changes into force from 21 April 2011, the Home Office have published:
You can download the statement of changes, the written ministerial statement, the statement of intent and the revised guidance from the following link:
Foreign entrepreneurs and investors are being given an extra incentive to come to the UK by new visa rules, which will reward those who contribute to economic growth.
Under changes to the Immigration Rules, which were laid in Parliament on 16 March 2011, people who come to the UK under Tier 1 (Investor) of the points-based system will be able to settle here faster if they invest large sums of money. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years. This compares with the current minimum 5-year requirement.
The right to accelerated settlement will apply to those investors who are already in the UK and have invested large sums, as well as new arrivals.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create 10 jobs or turn over £5 million in a 3-year period.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
'Today I have sent out a clear message - the UK remains open for business and we want those who have the most to offer to come and settle here.
'Entrepreneurs and investors can play a major part in our economic recovery, and I want to do everything I can to ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for them.
'Last year we issued far too few visas to those who wish to set up a business or invest in the UK - I intend to change that.'
The standard investment threshold for an entrepreneur to qualify for a Tier 1 visa will remain at £200,000, but the government will allow high-potential businesses to come to the UK with £50,000 in funding from a reputable organisation. And entrepreneurs will be allowed to enter the UK with their business partners as long as they have access to joint funds.
Major investors will also enjoy more flexibility: they will be allowed to spend up to 180 days per year, rather than 90, outside the UK without affecting their right to settle here. This addresses a major concern cited by investors, as they need to be constantly mobile.
Additionally, a new type of visitor visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs. They will be allowed to enter the UK so that they can secure funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer to a full Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa while they are here.
The government has also published a statement of intent outlining how the new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) route will operate from April 2011.
This innovative new route for exceptionally talented migrants will be limited to 1,000 visas per year. It is for those who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities.
Migrants seeking entry under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an accredited competent body. These competent bodies will be announced in the near future. It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for endorsement.
Under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent), migrants will initially be granted permission to stay in the UK for 3 years and 4 months. They will then be able to extend their stay for a further 2 years, and to settle here after 5 years' residence in the UK.
Damian Green added:
'Our new exceptional talent route will ensure that we continue to allow the brightest and the best who can make a valued contribution into the UK. 'This comes at a time of major reform to the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands.'
Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced that the Worker Registration Scheme will close on 30 April 2011.
The Worker Registration Scheme is a transitional scheme, which was introduced in 2004 when the following countries (known as the 'A8' countries) joined the European Union:
Under the terms of the Treaty of Accession, the UK cannot apply transitional restrictions on A8 nationals' access to the labour market for more than 7 years. This means that A8 nationals will be able to access the labour market on the same terms as other EU nationals (except Bulgarians and Romanians) from 1 May 2011. A8 work-seekers will also enjoy the same entitlements to out-of work benefits as other EU nationals. The Immigration Minister's announcement was made on 10 March 2011 in a written ministerial statement, which contains full details of the scheme's closure.
The UK Border Agency has announced that it will stop accepting Tier 1 (General) applications made overseas from 00:01 on 23 December 2010. This is to ensure that we do not exceed the limit set by the government for issued Tier 1 (General) applications between 19 July 2010 and April 2011.
Tier 1 (General) overseas will not reopen for applications. Tier 1 (General) in the UK will remain open until 5 April 2011. There will be transitional arrangements beyond 6 April 2011 for some applicants who are already in the UK, and we will announce details of these in due course. Following a court judgement on Friday, the government has also set a limit until 5 April 2011 on the number of certificates of sponsorship that are available to licensed Tier 2 sponsors under Tier 2 (General). The level of the limit will be 10,832, and the changes will take place immediately.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: 'This ruling is about process, not policy - the policy of having a limit has not been found to be unlawful. The court's ruling rests on a technicality, which we have set right today to ensure that from now on the interim limit is back up and running. 'This judgment does not affect the annual cap in any way. The interim limit was a temporary measure introduced specifically to tackle a rush of applications ahead of the introduction of the annual limit.
'As a result of the volume of applications received since the interim limit was introduced last July, no more Tier 1 visa applications from overseas will be accepted after 22 December. 'The government remains firmly committed to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.' The changes are set out in a new Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/statementsofchanges (HC 698). You can find Damian Green's written ministerial statement setting out the changes under 'Related documents' on the right side of this page.
The Home Secretary has outlined the government's approach to reform of the settlement rules, including a decision not to pursue the 'earned citizenship' policy.
Earned citizenship concerned the path to settlement and British citizenship, and was planned to come into force in July 2011. It will now not be introduced.
Outlining the government's approach to settlement reforms, the Home Secretary said: 'It is too easy, at the moment, to move from temporary residence to permanent settlement. 'We will not implement Labour's policy of earned citizenship, which was too complicated, bureaucratic and, in the end, ineffective. 'If people enter this country saying that they will only stay here temporarily, then it is obvious that they should only stay here temporarily. 'Working in Britain for a short period should not give someone the right to settle in Britain. Studying a course in Britain should not give someone the right to settle in Britain.'
We will make further announcements in due course. In the interim, the current rules and requirements for obtaining settlement and citizenship will remain in place.
Immigration Minister Damian Green will confirm this evening that the government is to look at all immigration routes into the UK and set new rules. In a speech to the Royal Commonwealth Society, the minister will say that, on its own, an annual limit on workers from outside the European Union is not enough to reduce net migration levels to tens of thousands per year. He will explain that the current points-based system for immigration is not yet properly controlling the numbers of people coming into the UK, and that an effective system needs to be found.
Forthcoming reviews will therefore:
The minister will also discuss a new research report published today by the Home Office. 'The migrant journey' is based on analysis of all the people who came to the UK in 2004 (except those making short-term visits). The largest group of visas were found to be for students - and, of the 186,000 students granted visas in 2004, more than 20 per cent were still in the UK 5 years later.
The number of foreign students in the UK is rising: in the year to June 2010, more than 320,000 visas were issued to students and their dependants visiting for more than 6 months. The minister believes these levels are unsustainable, and will say that this will be looked at as a priority.
Alongside this, the government will also look at work routes that lead to citizenship. In 2004, more than 105,000 migrants were granted visas in one of these work routes - and the report shows that 40 per cent of them group were still in the UK in 2009.
Compulsory English language tests will be introduced for non-European migrants applying to come to the UK to join or marry their settled partner, the UK government announced today.
From autumn 2010, they will need to demonstrate a basic command of English which allows them to cope with everyday life before they are granted a visa.
The new rules will apply to anyone applying as the husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner, fiance(e) or prospective civil partner of a UK citizen or a person settled in this country. They will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK as well as visa applicants from overseas.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'I believe being able to speak English should be a prerequisite for anyone who wants to settle here. The new English requirement for spouses will help promote integration, remove cultural barriers and protect public services. 'It is a privilege to come to the UK, and that is why I am committed to raising the bar for migrants and ensuring that those who benefit from being in Britain contribute to our society. 'This is only the first step. We are currently reviewing English language requirements across the visa system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future.
'Today's announcement is one of a wide range of measures the new government is taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK, alongside a limit on work visas and an effective system for regulating the students who come here.'
Anyone wishing to come to the UK as a partner will need to demonstrate basic English at A1 level, the same level required for skilled workers admitted under Tier 2 of the points-based system. A partner coming to the UK from outside Europe will need to provide evidence with their visa application that they have passed an English language test with one of our approved test providers. Under the current rules, people applying for visas as partners must already meet a range of criteria before being allowed to enter the UK.
All applicants must show that their marriage or partnership is genuine, and that they can support themselves financially. Whether they have married in the UK or overseas (or not at all), the non-UK partner must apply for a two-year settlement visa to come and live in the UK as a husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner. At the end of the two years, they can apply to us for permission to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain'). Partners who apply for settlement after completing their two-year period of temporary residence will still need to meet the 'knowledge of language and life in the UK' test. This is in addition to the new basic English language requirement, which forms part of their initial application.
The government plans for identity cards for British citizens to be scrapped within 100 days it was announced on 27 May 2010.
The National Identity Register, the database which contains the biographic and biometric fingerprint data of card holders, would also be destroyed by
the first piece of legislation introduced to Parliament by the coalition government.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'This bill is a first step of many that this government is taking to reduce the control of the state over decent, law-abiding people and hand power back to them. 'With swift Parliamentary approval, we aim to consign identity cards and the intrusive ID card scheme to history within 100 days.'
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: 'The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years. 'By taking swift action to scrap it, we are making it clear that this government won't sacrifice people's liberty for the sake of Ministers' pet projects. 'Cancelling the scheme and abolishing the National Identity Register is a major step in dismantling the surveillance state - but ID cards are just the tip of the iceberg. Today marks the start of a series of radical reforms to restore hard-won British freedoms.'
The Identity Documents Bill is part of a first wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen's Speech on 25 May. The Bill invalidates the identity card, meaning that holders will no longer be able to use them to prove their identity or as a travel document in Europe.
The government aims to have the Bill pass through Parliament and enacted by the Parliamentary recess in August, in a move that will save the taxpayer around £86m over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken into account. It would also avoid around £800m of ongoing costs over the next ten years which were to be recovered through fees.
On 6 April the Government will make significant changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the points-based system, as well as
to marriage visas for members of the armed forces, asylum and English for Speakers of Other Languages. The changes were announced today by
Borders and Immigration. Minister Phil Woolas quoted.
The Government has accepted changes to Tier 1 recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), and has set out further details of how it will implement changes the MAC recommended to Tier 2.
The changes include new points tables for Tier 1 and Tier 2, a simpler route for very highly skilled workers without Master's degrees, greater flexibility for short-term transfers by multinational companies, and more protection against such transfers being used to fill long-term vacancies that should go to resident workers.
Other changes to the Immigration Rules include:
This Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules will be incorporated into a consolidated version of the Immigration Rules. The changes will come into effect on 6 April and 7 April 2010. Applications that are made before the new rules come into effect will be considered under the rules in place on the date of the application.
Please call us on +44 203 397 0231 in order to discuss the changes and establish how this will affect your application.
Following an earlier announcement from the UK Border Agency, the new set of measures to tighten
the criteria on student Tier 4 applications have come into effect today. These are as follows:
If you have submitted and paid for your application prior to 3 March 2010, you will be considered against the rules in force at the time. Further changes will be introduced from April 2010.[back to top]
The UK Border Agency is updating its codes of practice for sponsored skilled workers.
If an employer wants to sponsor a migrant worker from outside Europe under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based system, the employer must use the codes of practice to:
The quarterly updates to the codes of practice will be published on the Codes of Practice page of this website on 1 March 2010. Employers must check the latest version before they issue a certificate of sponsorship.http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2010/January/34-changes-t4-applications
The Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Phil Woolas, has laid regulations in Parliament for the fees for immigration and nationality services that are set at levels at or below the normal administrative costs of the service.
The proposed fees are published today alongside these regulations. The proposals for the fees that are set above cost were published on 20 January 2010.
The government reviews the fees on a regular basis and makes appropriate changes as necessary. The UK Border Agency will continue with their strategic approach to charging, by setting certain fees above cost by balancing a number of complex factors (including the cost of processing applications, the importance of attracting certain groups of migrants to the UK and the value of a successful application to the migrant).
From 22 February 2010, any migrant who applies to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the points-based system must possess a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) from their prospective sponsor.
You will not be able to apply under Tier 4 using a visa letter from that date, even if the visa letter was issued before 22 February 2010. Until 21 February 2010, you can continue to apply under Tier 4 using a visa letter, even if your course of study will start after 22 February 2010.
For more information about applying to study under Tier 4 of the points-based system, please feel free to contact us.
The government has responded to a claim by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies that the Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) category of the points-based system is providing a loophole for Indian IT companies to bring foreign workers into the UK.
Under an intra-company transfer, an employer can fill vacancies in its UK operations by bringing across some of its existing foreign-based staff. It has been claimed that this enables jobs in the IT and other sectors to be taken by migrants who are paid less than resident workers, but this is not true - workers coming to the UK in the Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) category must be paid the going rate.
The UK Border Agency will, this spring, be amending the requirements for this category so that workers will need 12 months' experience (instead of six months as at present) with their employer before they can be transferred to the UK.
Additionally, the category will be closed as a route to permanent settlement in the UK. Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: 'Intra-company transfers are an important part of making the UK an attractive place in which to do business, and therefore keep industry and the economy moving. 'Workers that come in via this route must display the appropriate level of earnings and qualifications, and the numbers are strictly controlled by the points-based system - meaning only those the UK needs can come here.'
From next month, skilled migrant workers and their dependants will receive an identity card for foreign nationals when they successfully apply to extend their stay in the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system.
Under regulations approved by Parliament yesterday, all Tier 2 applications made inside the UK on or after 6 January 2010 will involve the enrolment of the applicant's biometric information (fingerprints and photograph).
Migrants in a number of other categories must already enrol their biometrics and obtain an identity card for foreign nationals when they apply to extend their stay in the UK.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
The independent Migration Advisory Committee has completed its review of Tier 1 of the government's points-based system.
Earlier this year, the government asked the MAC to consider whether the criteria for Tier 1 should be changed in 2010/11 to reflect changing economic circumstances. The MAC's report, published today, says that Tier 1 is generally operating well, but also recommends some changes.
Regarding the Tier 1 (General) route for highly skilled workers, the MAC's recommendations include:
The MAC says the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route - for migrants who want to work in the UK after completing a course of study here - should continue, as it brings economic benefits to the UK. But it recommends that the government should consider whether all courses and all institutions should continue to be treated the same.
In response to the report, Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'The MAC has delivered a robust and thorough report, and the government will consider it carefully over the coming weeks.’
'The points-based system is a powerful and flexible tool which means that businesses can recruit the skilled foreign workers that the economy needs, but not at the expense of British workers, nor as a cheaper alternative to investing in the skills of the existing workforce.’
'Our own research shows that more than eight in ten people who have used Tier 1 of the points-based system were satisfied with the process.'
The government will announce whether it accepts the recommendations in early 2010. The announcement will be published on the UKBA website.
Immigration statistics for July to September 2009 have been released by the Home Office today. This range of statistics covers asylum applications, total removals for those illegally in the United Kingdom and migration from eastern Europe.
Net migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. Phil Woolas, Border and Immigration Minister
Figures show that applications for asylum have dropped to 5,055 for the third quarter of 2009 - a 24 per cent reduction compared to the same period in 2008.
Decisions on asylum cases have risen by 38 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2008, with the grant rate for asylum falling to 12 per cent. In December 2008 the UK Border Agency met its target of concluding 60 per cent of new asylum cases within six months.
Applications from eastern Europeans to work in the United Kingdom under the worker registration scheme have stabilised at 29,085, compared to 41,265 during the same period last year and 28,060 in the second quarter (April to June) of 2009.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published earlier today also show that net migration fell to 163,000 in 2008, from 233,000 in 2007, the lowest level since the eight accession countries joined the European Union in 2004.
The ONS figures also show that, 14 per cent of those coming to the United Kingdom in 2008 - 85,000 people - were British citizens returning to live in Britain. This was more than any other individual nationality.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'Net migration is falling, showing that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.
'Our new, flexible points-based system gives us greater control over those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come.
'Our border has never been stronger, as illustrated by the fall in asylum applications and the record numbers we are stopping at Calais.
'We are making the UK a more hostile place for illegal immigrants by issuing foreign nationals with identity cards, checking those who apply for visas against watch-lists and fining those who employ illegal workers.'
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From 14 December 2009, the resident labour market test for Tier 2 of the points-based system will be extended to four weeks for all jobs, the Government announced today. This will replace the current requirement to advertise jobs for two weeks, or one week for jobs where the salary is £40,000 or more.
This change was proposed by the independent Migration Advisory Committee in their Tier 2 report which was published on 19 August. The Government accepted the committee's recommendations in full on 7 September.
The Prime Minister announced on 12 November that the extended resident labour market test would be introduced this autumn, so as to better support United Kingdom workers looking for skilled jobs as we come out of the economic downturn.
This change will apply to advertising campaigns that start on or after 14 December. Employers that have already run advertisements will not need to re-advertise to meet the new requirement.
To provide flexibility to employers, the four weeks will not need to run continuously. This will mean that employers will be able to advertise skilled jobs for shorter periods initially, for example for two weeks. This ensures that where resident workers are available, they can quickly be recruited to skilled jobs.
Where there are no suitable resident workers available, the resident labour market must be tested for a further two weeks, making four weeks in total, before employers can appoint a migrant worker.
The ONS figures also show that, 14 per cent of those coming to the United Kingdom in 2008 - 85,000 people - were British citizens returning to live in Britain. This was more than any other individual nationality.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'We've always said that we would run our immigration system for the benefit of the UK and that is why the Prime Minister announced that we will extend the amount of time employers must advertise jobs in Jobcentre Plus, before they can bring in a worker from outside Europe.’
'This change will give United Kingdom workers an even better chance and more time to apply for skilled vacancies that might otherwise go to migrant workers. It will ensure that businesses can recruit the skilled foreign workers that the economy needs, but not at the expense of British workers, nor as a cheaper alternative to investing in the skills of the existing workforce.'
The other changes to Tier 2 recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee will be implemented in spring 2010.
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Nearly one million passengers have used the latest face scanning technology at Britain's airports, the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson announced today.
He confirmed the figure while visiting the state-of-the-art facial recognition gates at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal. More than 950,000 passengers have used the secure self-service gates which scan biometric details and then check them against a range of watch lists before allowing the passengers to enter the country.
The facial recognition gates offer legitimate passengers the choice between queuing at traditional, staffed passport controls and using the self-service gates. More than 50,000 passengers have used the gates at Gatwick since their introduction in August 2009.
The gates take seconds to scan each passenger's face against the digital photo recorded in their passport. If there is a match, the e-passport gates open, to allow the traveller across the border. The gates are staffed by UK Border Agency officers who examine any passengers rejected by the gate, as well as making manual checks where appropriate.
The technology has already proved popular and successful at Birmingham, Manchester, Stansted, Cardiff and Bristol Airports.
Speaking on his visit, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
'Facial recognition technology speeds up the passage of legitimate travellers through immigration control, allowing UK Border Agency officers to focus on high risk travellers and goods. Our investment in the latest technology, which I have seen here today at Gatwick, means we continue to be at the forefront of border security.
'We have also introduced fingerprint visas, checking those wanting to enter the UK against immigration and crime databases, and compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals. In addition, the e-Borders system allows the UK Border Agency to count people in and out of the country and target terrorist suspects, criminals and would-be illegal immigrants before they can reach the UK.'
Facial recognition is just one of many technologies at use within Gatwick Airport to secure the border. Other technology includes Cyclamen, which detects radiation in cargo at the border and Braun Conpass, a full body scanner which enables the UK Border Agency to see if a passenger is carrying illegal weapons or drugs on their person.
Since January this year, technology used in customs checks at ports has helped in the seizure of illegal drugs worth over £157 million.
On his visit, the Home Secretary met frontline UK Border Agency staff, as well as detection dogs responsible for stopping smuggled goods such as drugs, cash and endangered species. Since January this year, UK border Agency officers working at United Kingdom ports and airports have seized in excess of 447 million smuggled cigarettes - representing a potential loss of more than £87 million in tax revenue and illegal drugs worth over £212 million.
Andy Flower, managing director for London Gatwick Airport, said:
'The introduction of the e-Passport system at London Gatwick Airport will provide a more efficient process for passengers entering the country.’
'The Home Office has enhanced the use of technology which will help speed people through immigration controls, whilst keeping our borders safe and secure.'
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The MAC published its proposals for a revised shortage occupation list on 21 October. The list sets out skilled occupations where the government considers there are shortages so that it is sensible for vacancies to be filled by migrant workers from outside the European Economic Area. Migrant workers seeking to come to work in the United Kingdom score points if they are applying to work in one of these occupations.
The MAC recommended a revised list of healthcare and engineering professionals and the continued inclusion of chefs, ballet dancers, work riders, veterinary surgeons and secondary teachers in maths and science, and sheep shearers. It also recommended the addition of special needs teachers and skilled meat boners and trimmers and the removal of ship and hovercraft officers.
The Government is accepting the MAC's recommendations for a revised list. This shortage occupation list for the United Kingdom and Scotland will apply to all certificates of sponsorship assigned on or after 14 December 2009. Applications based on certificates of sponsorship assigned before this date will be considered against the shortage occupation list in place at the time.
Sponsors must also refer to the Tier 2 codes of practice for detailed information about occupations, appropriate salary rates, and the evidence they need to keep to show that the shortage occupation criteria have been met.
Sponsors should note that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) intend to review all entries on this list by Autumn 2010, except for Musicians (3415), which the MAC intend to review by Spring 2010.
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Every migrant who enters the United Kingdom will require 'permission' to stay under new draft proposals published in Parliament today.
Under measures in the draft Immigration Bill, the five current application categories available to migrants will be replaced by one clear concept - 'permission' to be in the United Kingdom. With this new approach, migrants will either be granted permission or refused, making the rules easier for applicants and staff. Those in the United Kingdom must gain permission or face removal for breaking the law.
These proposals are the next step in building on the rapid progress the Government has made in tightening up Britain's border controls.
Over the past three years the United Kingdom has seen the introduction of e-Borders to check individuals in and out of the country and the implementation of the points-based system which ensures that only those who benefit the economy can come here to work.
In order to bring together the essential changes that have already taken place, the government is proposing a new bill to bring forward a new legal framework to simplify and consolidate 40 years of immigration laws. This will make the system more transparent than ever before.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'This government has implemented the biggest overhaul of the immigration system for a generation, and it is important that UK laws reflect these changes.
'I believe that Parliament should be in primary control of immigration - this bill will ensure that Parliament and not case law determines policy.
'The draft Immigration Bill we have published today will enable us to work more efficiently and is the next step in bringing together the strong measures we have put in place to control our borders and making them simpler to use and enforce.'
The new, temporary, time-limited, permission will be given for a particular purpose to visit, work or study and is subject to conditions such as access to work or public funds. Permanent residents will be given permission without any time limit or conditions attached.
The draft bill also proposes a new streamlined power of expulsion replacing the current powers of deportation and removal. Individuals who are issued with an expulsion order will be required to leave the United Kingdom and will not be able to re-enter while the order is in force.
A tough new menu of conditions is proposed for those on immigration bail, including restrictions on residence, work or study; access to public funds; and reporting and electronic monitoring.
Also today, the government published proposals for a new streamlined asylum support system. The suggested shake-up includes proposals to:
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'I believe our proposals strike a fair balance between supporting asylum seekers while their claim is being determined and encouraging the return of those who have no protection needs and who have no right to be in the UK.
'We expect those who apply for asylum to abide by the rules. If their claim has been refused, we expect them to leave the country. If they do not, we will enforce their return.'
Additionally, the government published today the responses to its consultation into the oversight of the immigration advice sector. The consultation was launched in May and aimed to improve the way the sector is regulated.
To ensure that advice given to individuals seeking to remain in the United Kingdom is of a high standard, the government will retain the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) and will consider a range of measures to allow for greater levels of intervention such as the power to deregister businesses, the power of inspection and the ability to serve improvement and probation notices.
Finally, following the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) shortage occupation list on 21 October, the government today announced that it is accepting the recommended list in full.
Fewer than 500,000 people (less than two per cent of employees) work in occupations and jobs on the recommended shortage list. This has been reduced from a corresponding figure of 700,000 a year ago.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'The Migration Advisory Committee's shortage occupation list is a powerful tool in making the points based system work for Britain's economic benefit.
'The MAC can respond quickly to changing economic needs, making sure we only get the foreign workers we need.' http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2009/november/ho-sets-out-rules-for-migrants
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The Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP, has set out the case for the United Kingdom's tough but fair immigration system in a speech in west London.
In his first major speech on migration since February 2008, the Prime Minister focused on the importance of getting British workers rather than migrant workers to fill skills gaps where possible.
He also announced a review of student visas, to clamp down on people applying to study in the United Kingdom with the intention of working illegally when they get here.
During his speech the Prime Minister emphasised that migrants must accept the responsibilities that come with living in the United Kingdom - obeying the law, speaking English, and making a contribution. He also talked about new measures to build on the success of the points-based system.
These new measures include the tightening of immigration rules to cut numbers of migrant workers. The Prime Minister said this year 30,000 occupations had been removed from a list of in-demand skills which the United Kingdom needs. He said thousands more posts from the list of those eligible for entry under the points-based system would be removed in the coming months.
Delisting these occupations, on the advice of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), will make it much more difficult for workers from outside Europe to take up such posts in the United Kingdom under the points-based system.
Mr Brown said:
'Immigration is not an issue for fringe parties nor a taboo subject - it is a question at the heart of our politics, a question about what it means to be British; about the values we hold dear and the responsibilities we expect of those coming into our country; about how we secure the skills we need to compete in the global economy; about how we preserve and strengthen our communities.'
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Deadline approaches for consultation on application charges
The UK Border Agency's public consultation on the fees we charge for immigration and visa applications will close on 1 December, so you have one month to send them your response. They would very much appreciate receiving early responses.
They want to get people's views on the fees they should charge for earned citizenship, which will be introduced in 2011. They also want to consult on other new chargeable services that could be introduced in future to respond to customer demand and improve customer choice - for example, optional premium services at a higher fee.
The consultation is open for 12 weeks, until 1 December 2009. To take part, visit the Charging consultation page on http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/221878/charging09/
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More than 100,000 identity cards issued to foreign nationals
The UK Border Agency has now issued more than 100,000 identity cards for foreign nationals, mostly to those extending as students or spouses - and regulations laid this week will, if approved, accelerate the roll-out of the scheme.
From 6 January 2010, if the regulations laid in parliament this week are adopted, migrants from outside the European Economic Area will be issued with identity cards for foreign nationals when they extend their permission to stay for more than six months under Tier 2 of the points-based system. This means that they will need to enrol their biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) as part of their application to extend their stay.
Initially, applicants under Tier 2 - which covers skilled workers who have been offered a job in the United Kingdom - were to apply for cards from spring next year, but the Home Secretary asked us to look at accelerating the successful roll-out. In response, we have also recommended bringing forward the introduction of the identity cards for Tiers 1 and 5, from spring 2011 to the end of 2010.
The UK Border Agency had pledged to issue 75,000 cards by November 2009, so the target has been exceeded by a significant number. As the number of cards in circulation increases, we have rolled out additional facilities for enrolling biometrics at our own offices and at four passport interview offices. We are in the final stages of concluding arrangements with Post Office Ltd to offer further options at selected branches - this will be a walk-in service, and customers will be informed that the service is available to them through their biometric enrolment notification letters as the participating post offices roll out.
For those booking appointments at Home Office biometric enrolment centres, we have introduced an online booking service. This has increased efficiency, and has been welcomed by customers as an alternative to calling our contact centre. Customers who do not yet need to provide biometrics as part of their application can also use the online booking service to book a 'premium appointment' for a same-day decision at one of our public enquiry offices.
Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 comes into force today. It places a duty on the Home Secretary to make arrangements for ensuring that immigration, asylum, nationality and customs functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. A similar duty is placed on the Director of Border Revenue in respect of the Director's functions.
This duty puts the UK Border Agency on the same footing as other bodies that work with children. It will be a driver for more effective inter-agency working, which is crucial if children are to be kept safe and given the opportunity to thrive. In particular, the duty will place greater emphasis on our participation with local safeguarding children boards.
The duty does not give the UK Border Agency any new functions or override its existing ones, but does require us to consider the needs of children as children and to take them into account in our work.
The UK Border Agency has developed an extensive training programme on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children for its staff, tailored to the amount of involvement they have with children in their day-to-day work activities.
Statutory guidance to accompany the new duty has been issued jointly by the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, Phil Woolas, and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families, Baroness Delyth Morgan.
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Bogus students and the points-based system - UK Border Agency response
The UK Border Agency has responded to allegations that the points-based system is failing to stop migrants from entering the UK illegally under the pretence of being students.
Jeremy Oppenheim, head of the points-based system at the UK Border Agency, said:
'The points-based system means that only those colleges and schools who provide quality education and take responsibility for their students will be licensed to bring in foreign students.
'Schools and colleges are inspected by accreditation bodies and the UK Border Agency to ensure they are genuine. Before we tightened controls, around 4,000 UK institutions were bringing in international students; this currently stands at around 2,000.
'Anyone coming into the UK must satisfy the Border Force officer that they meet the immigration rules and will comply with any conditions attached to their visa. If they cannot, the officer can and will refuse entry.'
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Detention of children - UK Border Agency response to SNP
The UK Border Agency has responded to the Scottish National Party's call for the detention of children to be ended.
Alan Kittle, the UK Border Agency's director of detention services, said:
'We do not want to detain families with children. However, when the independent courts have upheld our decision that they are not in need of protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily.
'We have a duty to enforce immigration laws, and detention is only ever used where families have failed to leave despite being given every opportunity, incentives and assistance to do so, in order to enforce their departure.'
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Seven people, including a bride, groom, best man and bridesmaid, have been arrested in an operation to tackle sham marriages.
Acting on intelligence, officers targeted a marriage ceremony at St Paul's Church, Salford, yesterday lunchtime (28 October) and disrupted an organised crime ring, preventing the suspected sham wedding from going ahead.
The officers, from the UK Border Agency's Immigration Crime Team, tackle serious organised crime in the region. The team comprises immigration and intelligence officers and officers seconded from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire Police forces.
Six of those arrested were Nigerian nationals (three men and three women), whilst the seventh, the bride, was a Dutch national.
Officers are continuing their investigations and are still interviewing those arrested. Six of those arrested could face criminal charges, whilst the seventh was arrested for immigration offences.
So far, a Nigerian man (07 03 1967) and woman (15 04 1983) have been charged with offences under the ID Cards Act and have been remanded in custody. The woman has also been charged with fraud offences. The pair were arrested during a house search close to the church, at an address that the bride and groom falsely claimed they lived at.
Another of the Nigerian women (02 04 1979), who had overstayed her visa, has been placed on immigration bail whilst enquiries continue.
Jo Liddy, Regional Director of the UK Border Agency in the North West, said:
'We will not tolerate immigration abuse and will punish those who break our immigration laws. If we identify marriages that do not appear to be genuine, we will challenge them, prosecute where appropriate and remove any foreign national in the country illegally.
'Over recent years we have clamped down on sham marriages and encouraged registrars to highlight suspicious cases.'
The government has announced changes to the delivery of the enhanced assisted voluntary return package for Zimbabwe.
Instead of providing extra 'in kind' assistance for business set-up, cash payments will now be phased in over a six-month period. This will support economic reform in Zimbabwe, enabling people to return voluntarily and use their skills to support change and help rebuild Zimbabwe with capital behind them.
The scheme is being extended until 31 December 2009, after which the continued need for an enhanced package will be reviewed.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said:
'The British government takes its international responsibilities seriously, and we will continue to grant protection to those Zimbabweans that need it.
'The situation in Zimbabwe is improving under the Inclusive Government, and we will be looking to normalise our returns policy progressively as and when the political situation develops.
'We will continue to provide assistance to those who choose to return voluntarily - enabling people to support themselves and rebuild Zimbabwe, which hundreds of Zimbabweans who have already safely returned voluntarily are doing.'
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that teachers in special schools and skilled meat boners and trimmers should be recognised as occupations where the United Kingdom is in need of immigrant labour.
The MAC advises the government on skills shortages that can sensibly be filled by migration. If its recommendations are accepted, teachers in special schools and skilled meat boners and trimmers will be added to the shortage occupation list - meaning that employers in the United Kingdom will be able to recruit migrants to these jobs without needing to carry out a resident labour market test first.
In response to changing economic circumstances, the MAC is also recommending the removal of some engineering and construction jobs from the shortage occupation list, as well as ship and hovercraft officers.
For the time being, skilled chefs remain on the recommended list. However, the MAC expects to see accelerated efforts to train the United Kingdom workforce in this profession before the list is reviewed again next year.
Other occupations that the MAC recommends adding to the list are:
The recommendations are included in the MAC's latest report, which follows its second partial review of its recommended shortage occupation list. For the report, the MAC reviewed all healthcare and engineering occupations, chefs, teachers (further/higher, secondary, primary, and special needs education teaching professionals), town planners, managers in construction, quantity surveyors, ship and hovercraft officers, veterinary surgeons, sheep shearers, work riders, ballet dancers, skilled fish filleters, meat boners and trimmers.
All the occupations included in the original recommended shortage occupation list have now been reviewed at least once since the MAC issued its first recommendations in 2008.
Professor David Metcalf CBE, who chairs the MAC, said:
'The points-based system, including the shortage occupation list, has to operate for the benefit of UK workers, especially given the current economic climate.
'The Migration Advisory Committee's latest recommendations take account of the impact of the worldwide recession on the UK. We have looked at the evidence and made recommendations that balance the needs of the UK workforce against those of employers.
'It is important to note that some shortages of skilled labour will still exist in a recession. This can be where there is a long-term structural shortage of skilled workers, where workers provide key public services, or in areas such as culture where the UK needs to maintain global leadership.'
The government will issue its response to the report in the coming weeks.
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Following successful assessment of the Scottish Qualifications Authority application to be included on the UK Border Agency lists of approved English language tests, the Tier 1 and Tier 2 lists have been updated.
We can advise on the updated information in respect of Tier 1 and Tier 2 applications, which shows details of the English language test that meet the English language requirement under the points-based system. Please contact us for more information.
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People in the Midlands have their say on citizenship proposals
Local people in the Midlands are being asked what foreign nationals should do if they want to stay in the country permanently and become British citizens.
The Government is currently undertaking a United Kingdom tour to gauge opinion on proposals to introduce a points system for migrants to earn British citizenship.
Plans in the new consultation, published in August, would see people rewarded for economic contributions, skills and English language proficiency above the level already expected. Points could be removed and citizenship withheld or delayed for those breaking the law or committing anti-social behaviour.
Eddy Montgomery, North West regional director at the UK Border Agency, was at the Council House, Birmingham, on 5 October 2009 to chair the latest of ten regional events exploring just how the proposals might work.
Mr Montgomery said:
'The principle that British citizenship is a privilege which must be earned is already established.
'This new consultation looks at just how that privilege should be earned, what kind of activities should score prospective citizens points and, by the same token, what kind of behaviour should slow down, or even halt, someone's path towards settlement?'
A points-based test for citizenship will give the Government more control over the numbers of people permitted to settle here permanently, allowing the bar for settlement to be raised or lowered depending on the needs of the country and the economy.
One of the key principles of the earned citizenship system is building community cohesion, through encouraging community involvement through 'active citizenship'.
Migrants already contribute to communities throughout the United Kingdom and the Government wants to support integration by encouraging more of this activity. That is why a migrant's journey to citizenship will speed up if they conduct voluntary or civic work. As part of this new 12 week consultation, the Government will work closely with local authorities to ensure any voluntary or community work being undertaken by applicants is checked and verified.
Under the current system those wanting citizenship have to pass a Life in the UK test to demonstrate both their knowledge of the country and their ability to speak English. The Government is proposing tightening this even further with a new two-stage system. This will focus on practical information about life in the United Kingdom at probationary citizenship stage, and then a further test at the final stage with more challenging topics including history and politics.
A range of local organisations have been invited to the Council House event.
Important changes for sponsors under the points-based system
05 October 2009
The UK Border Agency has today published revised guidance for employers and education providers who sponsor migrants under the points-based system, and has enabled education providers to use the sponsorship management system for the first time.
The sponsor guidance has now been split into separate documents for employers (Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system) and for education providers (Tier 4).
Additionally, the sponsorship management system is now available to Tier 4 sponsors, enabling them to issue confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) for the first time. During a voluntary trial period which will run until February 2010, Tier 4 sponsors will be able to choose whether to issue visa letters or CAS to migrants applying to them from inside the United Kingdom. CAS will completely replace visa letters next February.
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Two new policy announcements for Tier 4 of the points-based system
30 September 2009
Alongside the launch of the sponsorship management system for Tier 4 of the points-based system on 5 October 2009, the UK Border Agency has announced new policy for Tier 4 sponsors and would-be students.
The new policy centres on two main areas:
Extending the maintenance concession for Tier 4 applicants who are already in the United Kingdom
Tier 4 applicants need to have enough money to cover their course fees and maintenance. They must normally show that they have held this money for a 28-day period ending no more than one month before their application, but until now the UK Border Agency operated a concession allowing applicants to show only that have the required funds in place on the date when they apply. This concession ends on 1 October 2009.
However, the UK Border Agency recognises that many students already in the United Kingdom will not have needed to show this money before, so we have decided to allow a longer transitional period for all Tier 4 applications made within the United Kingdom.
Would-be students who make a Tier 4 application from inside the United Kingdom before February 2010 will only need to show that they have the money needed on the day when they apply. They must still provide the correct documents to support their application.
From 1 October 2009, would-be students applying from outside the United Kingdom must show that they have held the required money for a 28-day period ending no more than one month before the date of their application.
Tying Tier 4 students' permission to stay to their sponsors, if they make their application on or after 5 October
On 5 October 2009, new Tier 4 students' permission to stay in the United Kingdom will be 'tied' to the education provider that is sponsoring them. This will bring Tier 4 in line with other tiers of the points-based system.
From 5 October, every new Tier 4 student will find their sponsor's reference number on the vignette in their passport or on their identity card for foreign nationals.
In future, if a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor and they made their last application for a Tier 4 visa on or after 5 October 2009, they will need to apply for a new Tier 4 visa. They will not be allowed to begin studying with the new education provider until they have received a decision on the outcome of their application - if they do so, they will be committing a criminal offence for which they could be prosecuted or removed from the country.
The UK Border Agency has been asked whether students in this situation will be able to begin studying with the new education provider, at their own risk, before they have received a decision on their application. The UK Border Agency cannot condone a criminal offence, and therefore cannot advise students that this is an option for them. The UK Border Agency will make every effort to ensure that applications from students wishing to change education provider are considered within the published service standard, so that they can move to the new education provider as quickly as possible.
If a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor, and they made their last application for a Tier 4 visa before 5 October 2009, they will continue to be allowed to change without making a new Tier 4 application. They must, however, seek permission from us to change their sponsor.
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