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Changes to Tier 2 and ILR rules Dec 2017

Tier 2 (General)

The following changes are being made to the Tier 2 scheme:

• Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses. Currently non PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results.

• Exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test are being added for posts to be held by researcher applicants who are recipients of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council.

• Pay rates for health sector workers are being brought into line with pay scales in England and each of the devolved administrations, and consolidated in a new table.

• Provision is being made to allow nurses to be sponsored under Tier 2 if they are undertaking an approved programme with a view to returning to practice.

• A provision that is currently set out in the Sponsor Guidance is being incorporated, which restricts how far a migrant’s start date may be put back before it becomes a prohibited change (ie 4 weeks). The restriction now applies only to Tier 2 (General) Migrants, and only to any changes to start date which occur after leave has been granted.

Changes to indefinite leave to remain in work categories

The requirement to have had absences from the UK of no more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for settlement, which currently applies to main applicants, is being extended to partners of Points-Based System Migrants. To ensure that this requirement does not have retrospective effect, only absences from the UK during periods of leave granted under the rules in place from 11 January 2018 will count towards the 180 days.

If you need Immigration legal assistance with your Tier 2 sponsorship licence application or your permanent residency application, please contact us.

April 2015 – NHS surcharge for applicants both inside and outside the UK

The government is set to recoup up to £1.7 billion over the next ten years to help pay for the cost of NHS treatment given to temporary migrants.

The Legislation that came into effect on 6 April means that going forward nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) coming to the UK for longer than six months will be required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ when they make their immigration application.  This surcharge must also be paid by non-EEA nationals already in the UK, who are applying to extend their stay. The surcharge does not apply to Tier 2 Intra-company transferees, Nationals of Australian and New Zealand – below is a detailed list of all exemptions .

The health surcharge is £150 per year for students and £200 per year for all other migrants to whom the surcharge applies. It is payable upfront and for the total period of time for which migrants are given permission to stay in the UK.

So who is to pay the NHS surcharge?

Considering that a migrant worker coming to the UK for 5 years with 2 dependants, is liable for a charge of £3000, which comes on top of the actual visa fees of £3384, the surcharge will act as a very strong deterrent on most migrants. Sponsors are very likely to have to have to pick up the bill which in most occasions will double their HR immigration budget. As the NHS surcharge is non refundable, sponsors may consider including a claw back clause in the migrant’s contract.

Many of our clients have already commented that Tier 2 migrants contribute to the UK economy through taxation. Bearing in mind that they are subject to NI contributions, with this surcharge they will end up paying for the service twice. The Home Office’s response to this is: ‘the intended effect of the surcharge is that a person’s access to healthcare should be in line with their immigration status in the UK. Temporary migrants have not built up the long term contribution to the UK that a British Citizen will have built up and will build up over the course of their lifetime.’

Who is exempt from paying the surcharge?

A summary of exemptions is listed below.

Visitors, and where the grant of entry clearance (permission to stay in the UK) is for 6 months or less.

Intra company transfers (Tier 2 skilled workers).

Children under 18 years taken into care or in the care of a local authority.

Migrants making an application for asylum, humanitarian protection, or a claim that their removal from the United Kingdom would be contrary to article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Victims of human trafficking.

A migrant who applies under the Home Office concession known as the ‘destitute domestic violence concession’.

Dependents of a member of Her Majesty’s Forces.

As a dependant of a member of another country’s Forces who is exempt from Immigration Control.

Those making an immigration application related to an EU obligation, such as an application under the Turkish European Communities Association Agreement, are exempt.

Nationals of Australia or New Zealand.

A British Overseas Territory citizen who is the resident of the Falkland Islands.

What about the tourists, do they have to pay the health surcharge too?

No, Tourists travelling on a visitor visa [or EEA nationals] are not be liable for the surcharge. In fact from April 2015 those entering the UK on a visitor visa will be charged 150% of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the NHS.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions on any of the above.

2014 Certificates of Sponsorship – What, which and how?

To enter or remain in the UK as a Tier 2 General or Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Visa you must have been issued with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a Tier 2 Licensed Employer/Sponsor.

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a database record in the UKVI’s Sponsor Management System.

The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is the points based system’s replacement of the work permit scheme, which existed under the previous employment immigration route.

A Sponsor will have to satisfy themselves that all mandatory Tier 2 employment requirements have been met, such as, for instance, the resident labour market test was carried out in line with the UKVI’s guidance, before assigning a live CoS to a migrant worker.

A CoS takes the form of a 10 digit Certificate of Sponsorship reference number, which the migrant worker will need to apply for a visa or a leave extension. Although not strictly compulsory, Entry Clearance and Immigration Officers tend to insist on being provided with a hard copy of the long version of the certificate’s contents rather than relying on the CoS number.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a virtual document, which confirms that a UKVI licenced employer is sponsoring a foreign migrant to come or remain in the UK to work.
It is pivotal that the CoS is issued correctly if the migrant worker is be granted a visa or an extension of their leave.

Errors on the CoS may result in the visa or leave extension application being refused.

Mistakes may also be picked up during a UKVI compliance audit, which could have negative and very costly repercussions.
Sponsors found non-compliant may be fined and have their licence downgraded or even revoked.

There are two types of CoS:
▪ Restricted, AND
▪ Unrestricted

As a general rule restricted CoS are used for most out of country visa applications.

Unrestricted CoS’s on the other hand are used in support of in country leave extensions, which are not subject to the immigration cap.

What are Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship?

Restricted Certificates are subject to the immigration cap.

They are granted by the UKVI on a case by case basis.

To obtain a restricted CoS a Sponsor must submit an application to the UKVI by the 5th of the month. If granted the Sponsor will be able to assign the CoS to their selected migrant worker.

The award of restricted certificates is ruled by a points based system.
▪ Priority is given to the roles listed on the Shortage Occupation List, THEN
▪ Roles which require a PhD and is in the research field, THEN
▪ Roles with higher level salary for which the Resident Labour Market has been tested (i.e. the role has been advertised in line with the relevant code of practice).

What are Un-restricted Certificates of Sponsorship?

Tier 2 Sponsors are granted an allocation of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship on a yearly basis. The allocation is based on their usage of the scheme in the previous year and their forecast for the year ahead.

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship can be assigned to:

▪ Intra Company Transfers (where an Tier 2 ICT license is held)
▪ Existing migrants who are extending their employment with the same employer within the UK under Tier 2 General or ICT;
▪ New employees (Tier 2 or Work Permit Holders) who are moving to a new employer within the UK under Tier 2 General;
▪ Those seeking admission into the UK to fill a vacancy attracting a salary of £153,500 or more as a Tier 2 General
▪ Tier 4 graduates who are switching into Tier 2 General within the UK;
▪ Tier 2 Sports People; and
▪ Tier 2 Ministers of Religion.

How to make changes to a certificate of sponsorship once assigned?

Sponsors must make sure that the migrant worker’s details are correct when they create and assign a CoS.

Sponsors can use the ‘sponsor note’ field on the SMS to amend minor errors identified after the certificate of sponsorship has been assigned.

Examples of acceptable amendments are corrections to a mistyped name or date of birth.

If the main details are incorrect, the Sponsor must cancel the certificate and assign a new one so that to ensure that the information are the same as the one in the migrant worker’s application.

According the the UKVI’s guidance, new certificate must be assigned when for example:
▪ the SOC code or tier/category is incorrect; or
▪ more than one of the migrant’s identifiable details need to be changed – such as a full change to the date of birth and nationality, or to the surname and date of birth.

The sponsor note field can only be used to notify changes on a live certificate of sponsorship. Certificates that have expired or been cancelled cannot be amended.

For further information please contact us.

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April 2013 – Same day Service – Changes to the premium PEO appointment booking process.

Since 6th April all customers booking an appointment with the PEOs are required to pay a £100 appointment fee per applicant in advance of attending their appointment.

The remaining £275 of their appointment fee is then be paid on attendance at the PEO, along with the standard application cost.

This process will also apply to representatives. 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.

This change has been introduced by the UKBA in an attempt to reduce the number of wasted appointments and is also part of a wider series of IT and process changes to help them tackle the problem of harvested appointments.

Under the new process representatives continue to request appointments in exactly the same way (ie by emailing the representative booking request sheet duly completed on Monday at 9.00).  Once requests have been processed and appointments confirmed a booking reference number (BRN) is be sent.  Upon receipt of this information the representative is be required to call the Immigration Enquiry Bureau (IEB)  between 09:00 and 15:00, to make a payment of £100 for each person named on the appointment. Calls to pay the appropriate fee must be made by 15.00 on the next working day following confirmation of the appointment. If  payment is not made within this time frame, the appointment is cancelled automatically.

The payment information are transferred to another team in the Home Office who process the payment. Confirmation of payment is then dispatched by post to the registered cardholders address. (Subject to the postal service, this should reach you within 5 working days).

It is pivotal to note the importance of keeping the receipt in a safe place since the Home Office will not supply a replacement if lost and the applicant will not be allowed into the PEO without it.

Cancellations or rebooking can only take place up to 5  working days before the appointment. Failure to do so within this timescale or non-attendance will result in loss of the £100 appointment fee(s).

Since the launch of the new process there has been a large number of reported problems with the payment process and the delivery of the payment receipt. It is safe to say that it may take a few weeks before the current issues are ironed out. Even then with 3 entities (Home Office, the external payment processing provider and the Royal Mail) involved in the process, there is a lot of room for errors.

Whilst the lead time remains 6 to 8 week.

For further information please contact us.