Immigration Update: New Immigration Rules for Family Migration and other applications

15 June 2012

A Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was issued on 13 June which covers a wide range of visa applications, including those to join or remain with family members in the UK, who are British citizens or settled persons. The new rules will come into effect on 9 July 2012. The new rules will also make changes to applications under the Human Rights treaty to incorporate them within the Immigration Rules, provision for those who have overstayed in the UK and will add South Korea as a participant in the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, with 500 places pro-rata for the rest of this year.

Below is a summary of the main proposed changes which are due to pass into the immigration rules:-

Financial Requirement
The government has decided to introduce a minimum gross annual income threshold suggested by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) of £18,600 which a British citizen or settled person must be able to demonstrate in order to sponsor the settlement in the UK of a non-EEA spouse or partner or prospective spouse of partner. If the couple have a child the minimum income threshold will be £22,400 and £2,400 for each further child. There will be an exemption for sponsors receiving certain disability or carer allowances.

Income can include income from a variety of sources including employment or self-employment, interest from savings, etc, and can also include cash savings of the sponsor or applicant above £16,000 which have been held for at least six months in a regulated financial institution.

Transitional Arrangements
All applications submitted prior to 9 July will be decided under the existing rules. For these applicants, the existing rules will apply for each subsequent application, up to an including an application for indefinite leave to remain.

Introduction of New English Language Test in October 2013
From October 2013 all applicants for settlement (including Points Based System migrants) will need to sit both the life in the UK test and pass an English language test to level B1 or above, unless they are exempt.

The probationary period will rise from two years to five years before a migrant may apply for settlement as the spouse/partner of a British citizen or settled person or as a dependant of a Points Based System Migrant. The ability to obtain indefinite leave to enter based on four years’ marriage or cohabitation to a British citizen will be abolished.

Furthermore, the ability to apply to settle in the UK after 14 years residence will be abolished and instead applicants will need to have resided in the UK for 20 years or be able to demonstrate they have no ties with their country of origin, before they can apply to start a 10 year route to settlement in the UK.

Over Age Dependant Relatives
It will no longer be possible to switch into this category in the UK and all out of the country applicants will be limited to close family members, ie children over 18, parents, grandparents, sons, daughter, brothers and sisters. For parents and grandparents over 65, they will need to demonstrate that as a result of age, illness or disability, they require a level of long-term personal care that can only be provided in the UK by their relative here and without recourse to public funds.

Click to view the Statement of Intent: Family Migration summarising the new rules.

New SOC Codes and Rules for Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points Based System from 14 June
From today new SOC codes at NQF 6+ will be applicable for all tier 2 visa applications, with the exception of shortage occupation roles and some roles in the creative sector, where the SOC codes at NQF 4+ will still apply. It will be important to check that the SOC codes you currently use are still listed in the new codes, which are attached. The Immigration Rules and UK Border Agency guidance have been amended to reflect this change.

As we mentioned in our last update, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is currently reviewing the SOC codes and will consider evidence from employers as to their suitability for purpose. Evidence must be submitted to the MAC by 27 July and we can coordinate this for you.

Finally, changes to the resident labour market test means that a Job Centre plus advertisement is no longer necessary for PhD level roles and also those earning between £70,000 and £150,000.

Click to view the Occupation codes of practice for Tier 2 Sponsors.

To answer queries relating to any of these changes please speak to your usual Kingsley Napley contact.

For more information, please contact: 
Nicolas Rollason
Head of Immigration
T: +44 (0) 20 7814 1200

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