HO Changes to Immigration Rules, April 2016 – Latest Immigration News

Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC877, 11 march 2016 announces the latest immigration news which will affect applications made on or after 6 April 2016:

NHS debt and litigation costs

  • The NHS debt threshold is being reduced from £1000 to £500.
  • A new rule is being added to allow an application to be refused where a litigation debt is owed to the Home Office.

Visitors

  • Electronic Visa Waiver for Kuwaiti nationals is introduced.
  • Updates to the Permit Free Festival list for 2016/17 allow visitors to perform at listed festivals and receive payment.
  • Non visa nationals, whose national passport has been lost or stolen and who hold an Emergency Travel Document and are travelling home, are allowed to transit the UK without a visa.
  • No mandatory entry clearance refusal for holders of ‘non-national’ documents, which do not establish a nationality, owing to the holder’s status, but which the UK is otherwise prepared to accept as they are recognised as valid for travel in all other respects.
  • The exceptions are clarified to the requirement for visa nationals to have a visa in advance of travelling to the UK as a visitor or for any other purpose for less than six months.

Students

The latest immigration news for students will mean that:

  • The maintenance requirements are reduced for students applying for leave to remain as a student union sabbatical officer, or a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a foundation programme.
  • Tier 4 (General) students at independent schools are allowed to extend their stay from within the UK.
  • Tier 4 students cannot extend their leave in the UK to study a course at a lower level than the course for which they were previously granted leave.
  • Students cannot extend their leave in the UK to study a course at the same level unless that course is at degree level (NQF level 6) or above.
  • Tier 4 students who are sponsored by an institution with a Tier 4 sponsor licence which becomes an academy or school maintained by a local authority are allowed to complete their current course of study.
  • Short-term students must prove that they are genuine and come to the UK to study a short course.
  • Students are not allowed to be self employed or to be a controlling shareholder in the employing company, which means they cannot set up businesses.
  • The rule specifying when a student can change courses with the same sponsor are amended.
  • Calculating how much time has been spent contributing to the time limits in Tier 4, the period of leave granted, and the level of course for which the leave was granted, will be counted, rather than (if different) periods and courses actually studied. Time spent under the age of eighteen will no longer be excluded.
  • Third country nationals studying their bachelor’s or master’s degree in the USA become exempt from the English language requirements when applying for a short-term study abroad programme in the UK under Tier 4.

Overseas domestic workers

  • Allowing overseas domestic workers to take alternative employment as a domestic worker during the 6 month period for which they are admitted.
  • Increasing the period of leave which can be granted to an overseas domestic worker, who is the victim of slavery or human trafficking, from 6 months to 2 years.

Temporary workers

  • The list of Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange schemes is updated.
  • The maintenance requirements for the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) categories must confirm that by a sponsor certifying maintenance they are confirming the applicant will not claim public funds during their period of leave.

Skilled workers

The latest immigration news for Workers, Work Permit Holders (Tier 2 migrants), Employers  (Tier 2 Sponsors) will mean that:

  • Changes are being made to redistribute the monthly allocations of places for Tier 2 migrant workers under the annual limit of 20,700 places per year which applies to this category. The limit begins in April each year, with places released monthly. Unused places are carried over from the previous month.
  • As in previous years, an annual uplift in line with wage inflation is being applied to the earnings threshold for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) settlement applications.
  • No Tier 2 application can be made earlier than 3 months before the start date given by the applicant’s sponsor. For Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson), this requirement is currently only set out in guidance and is being added to the Rules.

Further, more technical, changes and clarifications are also being made to the Immigration Rules, including skilled and highly-skilled work routes, overseas domestic workers, students, family and private life, public funds and administrative review.

Contact us to find out how the latest immigration news might affect you or should you have any further questions.

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