Immigration News Round Up 2012

19 December 2012

2012 - A YEAR OF CHANGES

Migration Advisory Committee Publishes Its Recommendations on Tier 2 Limits and Other Policies
28 February 2012 and 4 April 2012
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its recommendations on changes to Tier 2 including raising the skill level of Tier 2 from NQF 4+ to NQF 6+, with the resultant loss of 32 occupation codes from the Graduate Occupation List. It also recommended that the annual limit for Tier 2 General Restricted visas should remain at 20,700. The UKBA followed these recommendations and the skill level for Tier 2 roles was raised to NQF 6+ from 14 June 2012, with the exception of certain creative roles which continue to be classified at NQF 4+. Click on the dates above to read the full updates.

UKBA Issues Statement of Intent Regarding New Settlement Rules
29 February 2012
Following the recommendations of the MAC in November 2011, the UKBA introduced new Immigration Rules relating to settlement in the UK. For the first time a minimum income requirement was introduced of at least £35,000 for Tier 2 General migrants in order to be able to settle in the UK effective from 6 April 2016 (the settlement option for Tier 2 Intra-company transfer (ICT) migrants was abolished for those entering the UK after 6 April 2010).

A maximum stay in the UK of 6 years was also introduced with retrospective effect from 6 April 2011 for all Tier 2 General migrants and a cooling off period of 12 months was introduced on 6 April 2012 for all Tier 2 migrants who leave the UK following the expiry or curtailment of their Tier 2 visa. Thus, Tier 2 migrants may not return to the UK in this category until 12 months have elapsed. Click on the date above to read the full update.

MAC Launches Review of the Tier 2 Codes of Practice
15 May 2012 and 18 October 2012
On 15 May the MAC launched a call for evidence on measures necessary in order to update, streamline and simplify the codes of practice, as well as introduce comprehensive salary bandings ranging from minimum salary rates for new entrants to a higher rate for more experienced staff. This consultation closed on 27 July 2012 and the MAC published its recommendations on 18 October 2012. A revised list of 97 occupations skilled to NQF 6+ has been produced. Some job titles have changed and new occupations have been added to keep pace with the emergence of new roles. A two tier salary banding for each job code has been introduced for New Entrant or Experienced Worker. The UKBA has yet to follow the MAC recommendations and implement the changes but a decision is expected early in 2013. Click on the dates above to read the full updates.

New Immigration Rules for Family Migration and Other Applications
14 June 2012
A Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was issued on 13 June covering many types of visa application, including those to join or remain with British or settled family members in the UK. The rule changes for family migration saw the introduction of a minimum income level of £18,600 per annum, or equivalent in savings, and a burdensome documentary requirement to support these applications. The probationary period was also increased from two to five years for dependants of British nationals and points-based system migrants wishing to settle in the UK. The new Rules came into effect on 9 July 2012. Click on the date above to read the full update.

New Call for Evidence from the MAC
20 September 2012
The MAC issued a call for evidence on the Shortage Occupation List asking for stakeholders to provide evidence of on-going skills shortages and the introduction of a sunset clause whereby occupations would remain on the list for a temporary, defined period. Views have also been sought on whether certain creative occupations should remain within Tier 2. The consultation closed on 30 November and the MAC’s recommendations are expected to be announced in January 2013. Click on the date above to read the full update.

New Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules
22 November 2012
The UKBA has introduced new Immigration Rules with effect from 13 December 2012 covering applications under the points-based system in Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5, as well as family and private life applications. The residency requirement for settlement applications has been relaxed to permit applicants to have up to 180 days of absences in each 12 month period over the five years needed to qualify. Within Tier 2 there has been a relaxation of the intra-company transfer rules relating to the length of time senior staff earning £150,000 or more, can remain in the UK, up from five years to nine years. Also the rules relating to the 12 month cooling off period have been relaxed to allow migrants to commence the 12 month cooling off period outside the UK from the date they leave the UK, rather than the date of expiry or curtailment of their visa. Click on the date above to read the full update.

For more information, please contact a member of the immigration team.

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