On 3rd November 2016 the government announced a number of changes to the Immigration Rules. The complete Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC667 can be viewed here. The Statement of Changes is 76 pages in total but there aren’t too many substantive changes to the Rules. The ‘highlights’ are:
- Abolishing the 28 day permissible period of overstaying. Previously a person would not be penalised if they overstayed for 28 days or less before submitting an application to the Home Office. This has now been reduced to 14 days. In addition to reducing the period allowed to 14 days they Home Office have said that there must be a good reason beyond a person’s control why they did not make the application in time. Also, if a person’s application (which was made in time) is refused or treated as invalid they now only have 14 days to resubmit their application. The consequences of submitting an application more than 14 days late (and without good reason) are that a person’s leave to remain will lapse. If they are subsequently granted further leave to remain there will be a break in their continuity of leave effecting when they can apply for settlement.
- Changes to the English language requirement. This affects people applying for an extension of leave to remain after 2.5 years under the 5-year route to settlement in Appendix FM. Those people will now need to take, and pass, an English test at level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This applies to partners and parents whose current leave under the family Immigration Rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.
- Changes to Tier 2 visas. The following changes are being made to certificates of sponsorship assigned by Tier 2 sponsors on or after 24 November 2016:
- Increasing the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions
- Increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000
- Reducing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year
- Closing the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.
- Changes to Tier 4 visas. A number of changes are being made, including amendments to the academic progression rule, maintenance requirements for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and evidence of overseas qualifications, UK qualifications used as evidence, and a series of minor and technical adjustments.
It is very important that anyone affected by these changes ensures that they plan ahead to make sure they meet the new provisions or make their applications in time.