RSL Blog

Immigration Summary Summer 2018

If you are a migrant, or would like to be a migrant, Summer 2018 has not been entirely bad. We have a new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who is the first ethnic minority person to hold the position. A good sign perhaps? Well, we shall see.

Anyway, although official immigration figures show that EEA immigration has been decreasing, non-EEA immigration remains strong.

And this is a trend that is likely to be contributed to by a big change that the Home Office have made to the Tier 2 visa regime. The remarkable fact that a huge 40% of Tier 2 visas are typically granted to NHS medical professionals was brought sharply to the public’s attention when the monthly Tier 2 visa limit was reached – a rare event – and the NHS could not employ all the medics it wanted to.

This caused a horrible potential political crisis and, in a legal and political masterstroke, the Home Office entirely removed medics’ visas from the Tier 2 limit. This means that the NHS is no longer constrained by the limit and it also means that that 40% of visas are now free for other types of Tier 2 skilled workers.

And the Home Office has now provided details about the new EEA visa regime for EEA nationals and their dependants after Brexit, which looks quite liberal.

But nothing in life is perfect, and the rules about overstayers and fresh visa applications have been tightened up yet further, and the Upper Tribunal decided that a Croatian national who had come to the UK before Croatia was a member of the EU could not benefit from EU law, and her husband was not entitled to an EEA residence card.

But Lord Justice Irwin in a widely-reported and quite witty speech to some barristers put things squarely when he said that the EEA Regulations are quite unnecessarily obscure and that the immigration rules are both so complicated and obscure that they are “something of a disgrace” – well, he certainly got that right.

However, the Home Secretary found the occasion to waive the complex and quite disgraceful Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer immigration rules when he allowed a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer migrant to switch in-country to Tier 2 General migrant: something that is normally Not Allowed. The unusual reason for this was that the migrant’s young son is, apparently, a chess genius, and the UK does not want to lose his talent.

The fears of the Turkish community were confirmed by new rules for settlement for Ankara Agreement visa holders. As expected, Ankara Agreement businesspeople now face a tougher regime for settlement (a five-year route, no longer a four-year one) but, on the other hand, Ankara Agreement workers now have a five-year settlement route, rather than the previous ten-year one, so it’s not all bad.

And in a big news story (the details of which have not as yet fully emerged) the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich (and owner of Chelsea football club) seems to have withdrawn his Tier 1 Investor visa application and generally pulled out from the UK. We cannot imagine that he is short of the required £2m, so there must be some other reason. Anyway, instead he very quickly got an Israeli passport (under the Jewish Law of Return) which may at least enable him to pop over now again and visit – perhaps.

And, finally, the Home Secretary has announced a new “start-up” visa scheme for entrepreneurs, although it all sounds very vague at the moment. The new scheme will apparently come into effect in Spring next year. There is a hint that it may replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa scheme, but it is not certain.

The Home Secretary made the announcement during London Tech Week, and it seems that the new visa might be particularly aimed at the techie/IT sector. We do at least know the visa will not be confined to graduates but that it will require endorsement from an appropriate body. And we are promised that the visa process will be “faster and smoother” (faster and smoother than it is for other, similar, visa types, we suppose).

Further details about the scheme will no doubt be published at some point, and we will keep our readers informed.

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