What does the new government mean for public lawyers?
On 3 April 2017, the government published details of the new fees payable for visa, immigration and nationality applications and associated premium services, which will come into force from 6 April 2017.
The main changes are:
As well as having to pay these increased fees, Sponsors wishing to hire Tier 2 migrants from overseas will also have to pay the new Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per annum (reduced to £364 for small companies and charities) for each migrant applying for entry clearance. This will be payable at the point of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship and so for a five year visa, the fee for the skills charge alone will be £5,000 or £1,820. However, this will not apply to Tier 2 migrants already working in the UK prior to 6 April 2017, who subsequently obtain further leave to remain in this category on or after 6 April 2017.
In addition, the Immigration Health Surcharge of £200 per annum will now be payable for those applying in the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) category (this had been rolled out to all other applicants in 2015).
On 3 April the Home Office announced changes to its priority change of circumstances service for Tier 2 and 5 Sponsors. This service was initially launched in November 2016, whereby for a fee of £200, Sponsors could apply for expedited processing of a change of circumstances request to add or renew a Certificate of Sponsorship allocation, add a new Level 1 user and replace an Authorising Officer. It will now be possible to also apply to add a representative. Access to the service has been sporadic to date due to the limit on the number of applications which could be processed each day. To improve access to the service, daily slots have been increased from 20 to 50, and the hours of operation will increase from 9 am – 4 pm to 9 am to 5pm. Priority applications are usually considered within five working days.
Legal Counsel (FCILEx)
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