2016 has been an eventful year for immigration, which kicked off in January with the widely anticipated publication of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on Tier 2. This followed the wholesale review of the Tier 2 route and minimum salary thresholds which had been carried out via the MAC’s consultation over the summer period in 2015. The recommendations by the MAC were harsh for employers of Tier 2 migrants and included increasing minimum salary levels and the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge. The Government subsequently announced in March which recommendations it would introduce and although not all the restrictive measures proposed by the MAC were accepted, nonetheless it confirmed that increases to minimum salary levels would be introduced from the Autumn and the skills charge would be introduced from April 2017.
We will be covering these Tier 2 changes as well as other recent changes in the world of immigration at the seminar on 30 January 2017.
This was followed by the coming into force of the new Immigration Act 2016 on 12th May 2016, which introduced a number of new criminal offences affecting the employment of migrants, as well as further measures to clamp down on illegal migrants and removing in country appeal rights for all except asylum and exceptional human rights applications.
The EU Referendum on 23 June 2016 and the vote for Brexit has led to a huge surge in applications from EEA nationals and their family members to register their status or to apply for a document confirming Permanent Residence, where they can meet the requirements as a qualifying person for a five year period. The Home Office has sought to ease the application process via the introduction of an online application and the passport return service. Kingsley Napley took part in the pilot scheme to test the online application process and is currently trialling the latest online application process for those EEA nationals with family members.
November saw the introduction of the new Priority service for Sponsor Management System requests, which for a fee of £200, enable additional Certificate of Sponsorship to be allocated or a new Level 1 user appointed on an expedited basis. Rather belatedly, the government also published the Autumn Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 3 November. The changes included the increase in minimum salary levels for some Tier 2 migrants and the abolition of the 28 day grace period for those with an expired visa, with effect from 24 November 2016, and the introduction of a higher level English language test (A2) for partners and parents of British Citizens, wishing to extend their stay in the UK (with effect from 1 May 2017).
The introduction of the requirement for criminal record checks to be obtained for Tier 1 applicants in September 2015 has just been extended to include some categories of Tier 2 migrants and their adult dependants, with effect from 6 April 2017. Those Tier 2 migrants working in public sector roles, including the medical profession, teaching and social services will be required to obtain criminal record checks from each country where they have resided for 12 months or more.
Detailed below are some of the key events and changes from the last 12 months, with links to our blogs on our website.
Migration Advisory Committee publishes its Tier 2 review findings
Sent 19 January 2016
On 19 January, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) publishes its long awaited findings, following its wide ranging review of the Tier 2 route over the summer of 2015.
Further details regarding the Immigration Skills Charge announced
Sent 23 March 2016
As you are aware the government is proposing to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for Sponsors who hire Tier 2 migrant.
The Home Office announces changes to Tier 2
Sent 29 March 2016
Following the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s report on its review of the Tier 2 visa category in January 2016, the Home Office has now announced details of the changes it will introduce for the Tier 2 visa route.
Immigration Act 2016 – introducing changes to criminal sanctions for employers
Sent 2 June 2016
Following our blog on 5th May 2016 – regarding the provisions of the Immigration Bill, the Immigration Act 2016 (“the Act”) has now received Royal Assent and passed into law on 12 May 2016.
What should EEA citizens living in the UK do next?
Sent 4 July 2016
In this blog originally published by LexisNexis, Katie Newbury provides guidance for EEA nationals on ways in which they can best protect their immigration position in the UK following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Introduction of new premium service for processing Sponsor Management System requests
Sent 20 September 2016
Many Sponsors will have experienced severe delays when making requests to the Home Office via their Sponsor Management System (SMS).
Roll out of online application process for EEA nationals
Sent 5 October 2016
Following the conclusion of the pilot to trial online applications for EEA nationals wishing to apply to register their status or apply for Permanent Residence, the online application process has now been rolled out nationally as of 1 October 2016.
Statement of changes to the immigration rules published today
Sent 3 November 2016
As widely anticipated, the latest statement of changes to the immigration rules incorporates the Tier 2 changes announced by the government in March, following the Tier 2 review conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee last year.
Further expansion of UK Registered Traveller Service
Sent 21 November 2016
The Home Office has announced the expansion of the UK Registered Traveller Service to applicants from 16 new countries, with effect from today.
Hot topics for 2017
There are a number of important immigration changes coming up in 2017. Article 50 may or may not be triggered in March and with it the beginning of negotiations on our future relationship with the EU. Whatever the eventual outcome, immigration will feature prominently; the Home Secretary Amber Rudd has already indicated her desire to introduce further restrictions for non-EU nationals at the Tory party conference and a consultation is anticipated in the new year. The Immigration Skills Charge is expected to be introduced from April 2017 for all Sponsors of Tier 2 migrants.
At the seminar on 30 January 2017, we will explain the full impact of these and other changes from the Home Office. We will continue to have significant high-level input into the Home Office’s policy formulation and will keep all our clients updated via our KN Alerts throughout the year.
If you would like to discuss any of the above points further, please contact a member of our immigration team.