EEA PR: Nationality applications ‘rejected’ by the Nationality Checking Service

September 2016 – Naturalisation applications from EEA nationals ‘rejected’ by the Nationality Checking Service.

We have recently come across a large number of EEA applicants who have found their applications for nationality turned down by the NCS on the grounds that they have held their Permanent Residence card for less then 12 months.

This is usually the case even when the applicant is in a position to show that they were granted permanent residence by the operation of law more than 12 months from attempting to file for naturalisation.

Following one of our client’s recent experience at the NCS where they were told that ‘the records showed that permanent residence had been held for less than 12 months’, we decided to contact the UKVI to seek clarification as to whether the Local Authority NCS did indeed have access to applicants’ details.

Their response reads as follows: ‘The Local Authority Nationality Checking Service (NCS) are not allowed to give any unsolicited advice on nationality or immigration matters.  As it is an unwaivable requirement that applicants have settled status they are expected to demonstrate this at the appointment.  However, if an EEA national has only held their Permanent Residence card for less than 12 months, the LA (with the applicant’s permission) can call us to see how early they were considered to be settled to enable them to apply under section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981.’

 To avoid delays and additional costs, applicants should make use of the Subject Access Request to confirm the date they are deemed to have gained permanent residence 12 months or more from filing for naturalisation.

When filing for permanent residence, it is highly advisable to enclose a letter highlighting the 5 years the UKVI should take into account when assessing the application. This especially when submitting supporting documentation that runs all the way to the date of submission of the permanent residence applications.

Should the UKVI have entered an incorrect date, applicants should seek to get the said date corrected before proceeding with their naturalisation application.

For further information, please contact us.

Right to Work Checks – Workers and Employers Beware

July 2016 –The Home Office has tightened the noose on illegal working even further. This could have a considerable impact on foreign workers and employers alike if ignored.

LEGAL BACKGROUND

Sections 34 and 35 of the Immigration Act 2016 came into force on 12 July 2016.
Section 34 amends the Immigration Act 1971 by introducing a new offence of illegal working (section 24B).
Section 35 amends section 21 of the 2006 Act, which sets out the criminal office of employing an illegal worker.

ILLEGAL WORKING:

With effect from 12 July 2016, under section 24 B of the 1971 Act (as inserted by section 34 of 2016 Act) a person commits the offence of illegal working if he is:
• subject to immigration control and works when disqualified from doing so by reason of his immigration status; and
• at the time, he knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he is disqualified from working by reason of his immigration status.

A person has been disqualified by reason of his immigration status if:
• he has not been granted leave to enter in the UK; or
• his leave to enter or remain in the UK: – is invalid; or – has ceased to have effect (due to curtailment, or revocation, or cancellation, or passage of time); or
• is subject to a condition preventing the person from doing work of that kind.

In other words, a person commits this offence if they are subject to immigration control and work when they know full well, or have reasonable cause to believe, that they have not permission to do so.

The offence of illegal working is not limited to working under a contract of employment and is intended to cover all types of work, including apprenticeships and self-employment.

Under the new offence, wages from illegal working can be seized as the proceeds of crime. In England and Wales carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The fine is limited by status in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

EMPLOYING AN ILLEGAL WORKER

Section 21 of the 2006 Act (as amended by section 35 of the 2016 Act) an employer commits an offence if he employs an illegal worker and knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the person has no right to do the work in question. This means that an employer can no longer evade prosecution by claiming that they did not know that the employee in question had no permission to work.

The amended offence allows the investigating agency to prosecute employers when it is found that ‘the employer have reasonable cause to believe that the employee could not undertake the employment, even where they perhaps deliberately ignored the information or circumstances that would have caused the employer to know that the employee lacked permission to work.’

The offence of employing an illegal worker is not limited to staff under a contract of employment, it also applies to contracts of service or apprenticeship, whether expressed or implied, whether oral or in writing.

The maximum sentence on indictment for this offence has been increased from 2 to 5 years.
The civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker will continue to be applied as sanction in most routine cases – however the Home Office has warned that in serious cases, prosecution may be considered where it is an appropriate response to non compliance.

The UKVI have published a new guide, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/536953/An_Employer_s_guide_to_right_to_work_checks_-_July_16.pdf

The guide applies to checks required on or after 16 May 2014.

Changes to Tier 2 as early as autumn 2016!

March 2016 -The Government has today announced its response to two reviews of Tier 2 policy by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

The changes are as follows:

For Tier 2 (General)

The government will increase the Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold to £25,000 in autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017 for experienced workers, whilst maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants.

The government will weight overseas graduates more heavily in the Tier 2 (General) limit and enable graduates to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent role at the end of their training programme.

The government will waive the Resident Labour Market Test and give extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit where the allocation of places is associated with the relocation of a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supports an inward investment.

Nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin, will be exempt from the new salary threshold until 2019.

Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List but employers will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a non-EEA nurse.

The government will not implement the MAC’s recommendations that students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 should be included in the annual limit and be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test.

For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer

All intra-company transferees (except graduate trainees) will have to qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500. By April 2017, the government will have closed the Skills Transfer and Short Term visa categories to new applications.

There will continue to be a separate ICT category for graduate trainees, with a lower salary threshold of £23,000 and an increased limit of 20 places per company per year, rather than 5 places as at present.

The high earners’ threshold will be lowered from £155,300 to £120,000 for transferees looking to stay in the UK for between 5 and 9 years.

The government will remove the one year experience requirement for transferees paid over £73,900.

All transferees will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge and there will be a review of the use of allowances.

The government will not implement the MAC’s recommendations that ICTs should be required to have worked for their company for two years, rather than 12 months, or that transferees working on third party contracts should be restricted to a separate category.

Across both Tier 2 routes

The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1,000 per person per year from April 2017. A reduced rate of £364 per person per year will apply to small and charitable sponsors. PhD roles, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees, and Tier 4 to Tier 2 switchers will be exempt.

The transitional arrangements for workers sponsored at NQF levels 3 and 4 will be closed over the next two years.

The Immigration Rules for work categories will be simplified, making them easier for sponsors and applicants to understand.

To give sponsors time to prepare, the government are not making changes immediately and will introduce their reforms in two stages – in autumn 2016 and April 2017.

The written ministerial statement is available on www.parliament.uk

For further information or an assessment of the chances of your application being approved, please contact us.

ILR Refusal due to Deception

March 2016 – The statement of changes of the Immigration Rules, which are due to come into effect on 6 April 2016, could bear bad news for those planning to extend their leave or apply for settlement under the family route.

Up to now, when considering the suitability of a FLR (M) / SET (M) applicant, the Home Office would have had to disregard previous ‘deception’ in line with S-LTR.2.2 / S-ILR.2.2.

With so many Tier 1 General ILR applications being refused on the grounds of deception due to discrepancies between earnings declared to the UKVI and earnings declared to the HMRC, we see many applicants choosing to vary their leave under the family route rather than taking the chance of getting their settlement application rejected.

Unfortunately under the amended rules this option may no longer be ‘bullet proof’.

Indeed S-LTR.4.1 and S-ILR.4.1 provide that an application may be refused on the ground of suitability if ‘the applicant has made false representation or failed to disclose any material fact for the purpose of obtaining a previous variation of leave, or in order to obtain a document from the Secretary of State or a third party, required in support of a previous variation of leave’ or ‘the applicant has made false representation or failed to disclose any material fact for the purpose of obtaining a document from the Secretary of State that indicates that he or se has right to reside in the UK …’

With the noose tightening, applicants who may have committed deception unknowingly- which will be the case for most Tier 1 General applicants whose tax declaration would have been made following the recommendations of their accountants without realising the potential repercussions, will find their immigration options limited even further.

 

 

How easy is it to get a restricted certificate of sponsorship?

March 2016 – This is a question that we are asked on a daily basis by prospective sponsors.

The answer depends on many factors such as the nature of role, whether it is sufficiently skilled or not,  whether it is on the shortage occupation list or not, whether the salary offered is in line with the relevant code of practice, whether the resident labour market has been carried out in line with the UKVI’s requirements..etc.

We find that the less skilled and the less paid the role is, the less likely the application for a restricted certificate to be granted.

Even when the role has been advertised in line with the Home Office PBS Tier 2 requirements, the certificate can still be refused.

This will be the case when the Home Office is of the opinion that the advertising exercise is not genuine.

This will often happen when the selected candidate is already in the employment of the sponsor under another immigration category such as Tier 5. There is an inference that the employer never intended to find anyone else.

A refusal is also likely if the Home Office believes that the role has been ‘inflated’ so that to fit under a suitable code of practice.

When there are doubts, the Home Office (the sponsor compliance unit – Tier 2 limits team) will get back to the employer asking for additional documents and information prior to considering the request for the restricted certificate.  In most circumstances, employers will be required to provide a few job description for the role, a copy of the contract of employment for the role, a copy of all the advertising undertaken to recruit for the role specifying all the requirements the advertising in question needs to meet. Employers are also asked if the candidate has been identified for the role is already in their employment. If that is the case, employers are required to provide the candidate’s full name, date of birth and immigration status in the UK along with a copy of the candidate’s payslips for the last 3 months, the candidate’s last P60s and current job description.

If the employers is unable to provide the Tier 2 team with the required documentation before the 11th of the month, their application is held over to the following allocation date. If the Tier 2 team is unable to make the necessary verification checks before the allocation date the employer has applied for then the application will also be held over the following allocation.

For further information or an assessment of the chances of your application being approved, please contact us.

 

Additional Tax questionnaire for Tier 1 Self-Employed ILR applications

March 2016 – Tier 1 G applicants applying for settlement through the Premium Service Centre (previously known as Public Enquiry Office or PEO) may be required to complete an additional form when attending the Centre. Based on our clients’ personal experience, the additional form/questionnaire is issued mainly to self-employed applicants. It is interesting to note that not all self-employed applicants are requested to complete the said questionnaire. The questionnaire is likely to be requested when the Home Office has noted a discrepancy between the amount of tax declared on the applicant’s SA and the amount of earnings declared when first applying or later extending under the Tier 1 G scheme. We find that when an applicant is required to complete the additional questionnaire the application is often referred for further checks.

Home Office Tier 1 SET (O) application tax questionnaire:

The questions asked on the form are as follows:
– 1 During your residence in the UK, have you worked in a self-employed capacity and been registered as self-employed or worked as the director or share-holder of a limited company?
– 2 What is/was the nature of your business as a self-employed person – select between sole trader/contractor/Limited company director or shareholder/ other?
– 3 Please confirm the financial years in which you were registered as self-employed in the UK?
– 4 For the financial years in which you have been registered as self-employed in the UK, please confirm the financial years for which a self-assessment tax return was submitted to the HMRC by you on on your behalf?
– 5 Please specify the type/nature /field of business you engaged in to generate income?
– 6 Did you use an accountant to assist in submitting your self-assessment tax return(s) to HMRC?
– 7 What is the name of the accountant you used?
– 8 Please confirm the type of documents that were used in order for yourself or your accountant to prepare your self-assessment tax returns? invoices/bank statements/ dividend vouchers/ payslips / other
– 9 Are you satisfied that the self-assessment tax returns submitted to HMRC accurately reflected your self-employed income?

Discrepancies between the amount declared to the HMRC and the amount declared to the UKVI are likely to result in an application being rejected on ground of deception.

Future applications for entry clearance or leave to remain is likely to be refused under 320(7b) immigration rules following a refusal on the ground of deception. The ban, which lasts for 10 years, does not apply to family application.

For further information or a copy of the entire questionnaire please contact us.

The ‘Right to Rent’ comes to London

Februar 2016 – From tomorrow, private landlords are required to conduct immigration status checks on their tenants.

The Home Office has published a Code of Practice, which lists in detail the landlord’s new obligations.

Failing to comply could result in financial penalties of up to £3000 per tenant.

Landlords who fail to undertake the compulsory immigration checks, or who rent a property to a person whose immigration status does not confer them the “right to rent” run the risk of being fined.

The new rules provide that the immigration status checks must be carried out before the landlord enters into the residential tenancy agreement with any adult who is to occupy the premises as their only or main home.

To whom do the checks apply?

Landlords (or their agents) must check the status of all adults, who intend to live in the property, as opposed to only the individuals listed on the lease.

The checks apply to all residential tenancies, including leases and licences.

Occupiers subletting must also undertake the checks.

The regulations go as far as including every day Joe Blogs wishing to rent his spare room to a lodger.

There are some exceptions, such as those applicable to accommodation involving Local Authorities, social housing, care homes, hospitals, hospices, hostels, refuges, mobile homes, student accommodation and long leases.

The checks do not apply to tenants under the age of 18 either
and where tenants turn 18 during the course of the tenancy
additional follow up checks are not required.

Only specific documents to demonstrate the ‘right to rent’ are acceptable. Copies of the said documents must be kept.

Fortunately the new requirements will not apply retrospectively (ie it will not apply for renewal of lease after the implementation of the new rules)

The new requirement will not apply to a property rented temporarily, e.g.  holiday accommodation – having said that if the property is to be rented for 3/4 months the Home Office is likely to expect the checks to have been carried out.

Who has the ‘Righ to Rent’?

As part of the checks the landlord must be satisfied that each person living in the property is one of the following:

– a British National;

– a National of a country within the European Economic Area;

– a Swiss national; or

– some other national with the Right to Rent.

An individual with “a right to rent” will normally be someone who holds an official permission to be in the UK, for instance someone with permission to work or someone with permanent residence/ indefinite leave to remain or someone with leave to remain as the dependant / spouse of an EEA national etc.

UK immigration law is complex. There are a very large number of immigration status and documents, which confirm the said status and by extension the right to rent of any given individual.

The rules provide that if a landlord appoints a letting agent, the agent in question can, by written agreement with the landlord, be responsible for carrying out the checks.

The agreement between the landlord and agent must confirm the timescale within which the checks must be carried out and reported to the landlord.

If the agent informs the landlord that there is no right to rent and a tenancy agreement is still entered into, the landlord will be liable.

In all other cases the agent will be liable.

The Home Office have set up a landlord’s helpline and an online service, which will assist the landlords to check a prospective tenant’s right to rent in the UK. When using the system, they should receive a response within two working days.

In today’s rental market, landlords may not be in a position to wait this period of time to have their properties let.

We have therefore set up a “an express checking service” to meet the needs of landlords across London. Alternatively we have put together a 3 stage guideline which we hope will be helpful to those going in on their own. Finally we offer a bespoke training session for letting professionals starting at £250 per session.

Entry Clearance Services Ltd is a leading specialist immigration law advisory firm, formed in 2007, with extensive experience of advising on all aspects of UK immigration law.  Please contact us for further information.

British Citizenship for EEA applicants. Date of issuance of PR card not always relevant.

January 2016 – Under the British Nationality Act 1981 to qualify for British citizenship an applicant must show, amongst other things, that he or she is settled in the UK (i.e. he or she is free from any immigration restriction on the period for which he or she might remain in the UK).

Under normal circumstances, citizens of EU and EEA countries and their family members automatically gain permanent residence after exercising their treaty rights in the UK for 5 years.

Until November 2015, citizens of EU and EEA countries, who had automatically gained permanent residence in the UK, could apply for naturalisation providing that they could show that they had been free from immigration restriction for at least 12 months prior to filing for British citizenship.

Pursuant of British Nationality (General) (Amendment No. 3) Regulations 2015, citizens of EU and EEA countries are now required to apply for a permanent residence card before they can apply for British citizenship.  To do so, they are expected to complete the 85 page long EEA (PR) form and pay a processing fee of £65 per applicant.

Bearing in mind that the EEA Caseworking is taking on average 6 months, this additional requirement is going to extend the naturalisation process, which is by nature already a very protracted exercise, considerably.

Over the last few months, many of our clients were advised by the UKVI’s helpline and some of the Nationality Checking Centres that they would have to wait 12 months from obtaining their PR card before being able to file for naturalisation. The rational being that the PR card would in essence recognise their permanent residence only from the date of the card’s issuance rather than from the date they became permanent resident automatically by operation of EU law.

For instance, a Spanish national working in the UK since 2000 but issued with a PR card in 2015 would have to wait until 2016 to qualify for British Citizenship.

This interpretation of the regulations seemed to be at odds with EU Free movement law and needed to be clarified.

Following a recent FOI request the nationality policy team have now confirmed that permanent residence is acquired following 5 years of residence in accordance with the EEA Regulations and not on the date the residence card is issued. The date an applicant is deemed to have acquired permanent residence is recorded on the UKVI’s database and will be noted by the caseworker processing the naturalisation application.  It would appear that this information has yet to filter down to the army of staff dealing with ad-hoc enquiries.

 

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

MAC report on Tier 2: more bad news for SME sponsors

January 2016 – The MAC have issued their report today. Essentially their advice is to restrict the usage of the scheme by making it financially prohibitive to sponsor migrant workers.

Their recommendations include:

– The cost of Tier 2 recruitment should be raised by imposing a higher overall minimum salary thresholds (from £20,800 to £30,000 with a minimum of £23,000 for graduates ) and introducing an Immigration Skills Charge (£1000 per year for each Tier 2 migrant);

– A new Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) category should be created for those using the route for third-party contracting and a higher salary threshold (of £41,500) should be applied.

 

Contrary to earlier suggestions, they do not recommend that Tier 2 (General) be restricted only to occupations on an expanded shortage occupation list, or that automatic work rights for dependants should be restricted or that they should be an automatic sunsetting of occupations on the shortage occupation list.

 

The report has now been sent to government for consideration. Based on how the previous MAC proposals were received, it is highly likely that these new recommendation will be implemented within the changes to the Immigration Rules in April 2016.

 

To avoid the new Immigration Skills Charge or / and the new salary threshold, employers who are currently considering sponsoring a migrant would be well advised to start the process now.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact us.


 

Review of the Tier 2 Scheme – Have you had your say?

September 2015 – The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) has been asked to carry out a review of the Tier 2 sponsorship route by the Government. As part of this review the MAC has been asked to advise on potential changes to the Tier 2 scheme to address concerns about the rising number of migrants using the Tier 2 route and UK employers’ reliance on them to fill shortages.

This is the most extensive and concerning review of Tier 2 since the scheme was introduced in 2008. Left unopposed, the proposal would change the Tier 2 scheme beyond recognition. Employers could find their ability to recruit under Tier 2 General (excluding Tier 2 sportsperson and religious workers) considerably diminished.

With the consultation closing on the 25th September, the clock is now ticking. Affected UK employers, who have yet to respond to the MAC’s Call for Evidence, would be well advised to submit their evidence at the earliest.

 The main questions raised by the Government the MAC is to advise on are:

1)  How  to restrict  Tier 2 (General)  recruitment  to genuine skill shortages and highly specialist experts only?

2)  How  to limit the length of  time occupations can remain regarded as  having shortages?

3)    How to apply a skills levy to businesses recruiting from outside of the EEA?

4)     How to restrict the automatic right of Tier 2 dependants to work in the UK?

5)     How to limit the number of migrants using the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) route?

RESTRICT TIER 2 (GENERAL) TO GENUINE SKILLS SHORTAGES AND HIGH SPECIALIST EXPERTS

The MAC has been asked to consider how Tier 2 (General) and the shortage occupation list should be reformed to restrict the use of the scheme to genuine skill shortages and highly specialist experts. Getting rid of the Resident Labour Market Test and replacing it with a new and expanded shortage occupation list has been put forward at a possible means of achieving this goal.

The Government expects the proposed reforms to be sufficiently flexible to include high value roles, key public service workers and those, which require specialist skills.

The MAC is to advise on selection criteria such as, salaries, points for attributes, economic need and skills level, and whether such an approach should also operate in respect of intra-company transfer and Tier 4 graduate migrants hoping to switch into Tier 2 General.

CURRENT SYSTEM

Under the current system the number of Tier 2 (General)applications is restricted to a maximum of 20,700 certificates per year with a monthly allocation, which varies slightly depending on the level of subscription. This year 2,550 certificates were released in April, and the remaining certificates will be released equally on a monthly basis until March 2016. Any certificates not allocated in any given month are carried over and added to the next month allocation.

All applications are ranked against each other in a monthly pool using a point-based system. Points are allocated depending on:

  • the role: – if on the shortage occupation list (75 points) or; – if at PhD level and a resident labour market has been carried out, if applicable (50 points) or; – if the resident labour market has been tested (30 points); and
  • the salary offered: Points for salary are awarded according to the relevant salary bracket, starting at £20,880 – £20,999.99 (2 points) up to £100,000 – £155,299.99 (30 points).

To qualify for consideration, applications must attract the minimum of 32 points. Until recently the quota had always been under-subscribed. So providing the application met the minimum points it was pretty much guaranteed that a certificate would be allocated.

However with the monthly quota being oversubscribed in both June and July, the salary offered became a deciding factor for applications that were not at PhD level or not on the shortage occupation list. Indeed, in June, due to the unusually high number of requests filed, the Home Office had to reject all requests scoring fewer than 50 points and therefore offering salaries lower than £46,000. The situation improved slightly in July with a minimum score of 45 points and offered minimum salaries of £32,000. In August we were almost back to normal with a minimum score of 36 points and offered salaries of £24,000.

This ‘highest salary’ led system has a negative impact, in particular, on graduate recruits across the board and sectors with high value jobs such as NHS, engineering, research, pharmaceutical..etc.

Relying on salary to gauge the level of expertise required for a particular role is a highly fallible system, especially when no distinctions are made from one industry to the other. For instance software engineers’ salaries vary greatly depending on their sector of employment, be it banking, electronics, telecommunication..etc.

Should the Home Office have to rely mainly on a ‘salary led’ system in the future when considering applications, we are likely to see salaries raise considerably for those jobs which are not on the shortage occupation list but for which the necessary skills and expertise are in short supply in the UK.

In their response to the MAC’s Call for Evidence, employers should request that the roles, which they are struggling to fill be added to the shortage occupation list. Their request should be backed up by substantiating evidence to demonstrate the shortage. This could include the length and cost of the recruitment process compare to other roles, the necessary salary increases which may result in having to offer inflated rates..etc.

SUNSET CLAUSE FOR JOBS ON THE SHORTAGE OCCUPATION LIST

As part of this review, the Government is re-visiting the possibility of introducing a limit on how long a job should remain on the shortage occupation list. This proposition was explored previously under the Coalition Government. The MAC then investigated whether a sunset clause of two years should be applied and after full consideration recommended against it.

As this proposition has been brought back to the table, there is a possibility that going forward, a job could be placed on the list only for a pre-determined period of time. On reaching the end of this period, employers would be required to provide further evidence of the continuing shortage to maintain the job on the list.

SKILLS LEVY ON EMPLOYERS WHO RECRUIT FROM OVERSEAS

As part of their plans to reduce employers’ reliance on workers from outside of the EEA, the Government is also considering introducing a skills levy to fund UK apprenticeships for settled workers. It is not clear yet how the levy would be collated and whether it would be a fixed or variable fee.

Bearing in mind the heavy visa fees, the recent increase in salary thresholds and the introduction of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), this levy would come as an additional and unaffordable burden on small businesses, which rely on overseas workers for skills currently lacking in the UK.

For the large organisations that already provide training, the imposition of the levy could be counterproductive. Indeed, there is a risk that the cost of the levy could be included in existing training budgets, reducing the funds that would normally be available to train workers across the board.

TIER 2 DEPENDANTS RIGHT TO WORK

When last consulted on whether the dependants should be included towards the cap as a means to reduce net migration, most employers objected. Then the main argument was that any reductions in the number of dependants would have a significant impact on the UK businesses’ ability to attract the ‘brightest and the best’. The general consensus was that the vast majority of migrants would be reluctant to come if their dependants were not able to join them and / or to work in the UK.

The collective opinion has not changed and any restriction on the right to work of Tier 2 dependants is likely to affect many businesses.

It has been argued that permitting dependants to work has resulted in the displacement of resident workers for low skills jobs. However research carried out by the Permits Foundation analyzing the international assignee population of more than 200 employers demonstrate that most dependants are highly educated and the jobs they take in the UK economy, compliment rather than replace / displace the UK workforce.

CHANGES TO THE TIER 2 INTRA COMPANY TRANSFER (ICT) ROUTE

The number of overseas workers entering the UK as ICTs has increased alarmingly over the last few years. This increase has made the ICT route an ideal target in the hunt for means to reduce net migration.

The ICT route is mainly used by the IT Industry. Off shore companies with an established presence in the UK can use this route to bring IT workers from overseas to work on temporary contracts.

IT resident workers and campaigners have expressed concerns that this puts them at a disadvantage as staff from overseas are often paid considerably less. In response to these concerns the Government has put in place a minimum pay threshold to ensure that UK workers are able to compete in the national and international market place. Allegations, however, have been made that suppliers of contract workers are still finding ways to avoid paying the minimum rate by manipulating salaries and inflating the value of allowances.

The Call for Evidence is looking at whether allowances should continue to be included in the salary threshold. Imposing tighter intra-company transfer restrictions, specifically on the IT sector, is a possibility. The introduction of a fixed cap or a cap based on the percentage of UK workforce is also being considered. Another of the proposed changes would be to apply the Immigration Health Surcharge to ICT workers.

In its determination to reduce net migration the Government is expected to impose drastic changes to the ICT route, which will have a considerable impact on the IT sector and the way IT overseas suppliers operate in the UK.

UK employers in the IT sectors, who are likely to be affected by the proposal, would be well advised to provide evidence of the negative effects the changes would have on their businesses.