INDUSTRY NEWS FEBRUARY 2016
Since the wave of changes swept across almost all visa categories in October – November 2015, not much has happened in relation to immigration rules over the winter months 2016. Some of our clients should be aware that there has been a proposition to introduce a £1,000-a-year levy on firms employing skilled migrants from outside Europe and an additional English language test for non-EU spouses of British and EU citizens. Other proposed changes include amendments in relation to the Home Office fees for years 2016-2017.
TIER 2 (GENERAL) AND SPONSORSHIP LICENCE
The Home Office is set to cut the flow of skilled non-EU migrants by 20% a year but what does it mean for employers and visa holders?
UK Home Secretary Theresa May is set to charge firms employing skilled migrants a £1,000-a-year levy which is expected to be introduced for all firms for each skilled migrant they recruit from outside Europe. She is expected to endorse the levy but has not yet made a final decision. The charge would apply for each year a migrant works in Britain, so a three-year skilled migrant visa would carry a £3,000 charge. The final amount is yet to be set by the chancellor. The recruitment of NHS nurses and teachers is expected to be most affected by the recommended changes, along with tech specialists working in software companies. A sharp rise in the minimum salary threshold from £20,800 to £30,000 for jobs filled from overseas, which would particularly affect nurses, is also a possibility.
The proposed changes also include restrictions on what is known as “intra-company transfers”, limiting their use to senior managers and specialists by raising the minimum salary for visas to £41,500 for long-term staff. Raising the cost of employing skilled migrants via higher pay thresholds and the introduction of an immigration skills charge are intended to reduce the use of migrant labour.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE & MIGRANT SPOUSES
If you are married to a British or an EU citizen and would like to live with them in the UK, you need to pass an English language test at basic level A1 CEFR as part of your application. Five years will have to pass before you need to sit another language test, this time at level B1 CEFR, in order to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or a Permanent Residence Card.
To encourage faster integration, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is determined to introduce a “mid-term” test halfway through the five-year period from October 2016. It will apply to people who have come to the UK on a spousal visa recently. Spouses-migrants will have to show that their English is improving. It is not yet clear how failure to pass such an exam will affect visa holders.
NEW IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY FEES FOR 2016 – 2017
On 11 January 2016, the government set out its proposed changes to the fees for visas, immigration and nationality applications and associated premium services for 2016–17.
The main changes which will come into force in April 2016 if approved by the Parliament are:
- Small increases (2%) for visit, study and work visas
- Fees for settlement, residence and nationality will increase by 25%
- Targeted increases have been applied to premium services, such as the priority visa service
- Fees for all sponsorship categories will stay at the current rates
RIGHT TO RENT CHECKS
In our October Newsletter we informed you about the obligation of the landlords to check whether their tenants reside in the UK legally. Only people with permission or a right to be in the UK have a right to rent property. Landlords should not let to people who do not have the right to be in the UK. The new rules came into force on 1 February 2016 and are part of the Immigration Act 2014. Currently, landlords who fail to check the potential tenant’s ‘right to rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant. In order to check whether you can let your property to the potential tenant, you can use the Home Office right to rent tool which can be found here. Please contact us for assistance if you are not sure how to perform the necessary checks.
*Please read more on ‘right to rent’ in the “Real Estate” section of this newsletter.