Changes to Immigration rules from Migrant Watch forum

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Immigration Lunar House

Immigration Minister Damian Green has just announced a raft of changes to Immigration rules which has been laid before Parliament and will take effect at various dates starting from Thursday 15th March 2012.

 Thursday 15 March 2012, a written ministerial statement was laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules.
Most of the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. Some of the changes to Tier 2 will affect those who were granted leave after 6 April 2011.
The changes include:
Migrants under the points-based system

Tier 1 – high-value migrants

·         Closing the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route.
·         Introducing the new Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) route.
·         Introducing new provisions for switching from Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Post-study work) into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
·         Renewing the 1000 place limit for Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) for each of the next 2 years.

Tier 2 – skilled workers

 Limiting the total amount of temporary leave that may be granted to a Tier 2 migrant to 6 years (which applies to those who entered after 6 April 2011).

Introducing a new minimum pay requirement of £35,000 or the appropriate rate for the job, for Tier 2 general and sportsperson migrants who wish to settle here from April 2016 (with exemptions for those in PhD level and shortage occupation categories).
·         Introducing a ‘cooling-off period’ across all the Tier 2 routes. Tier 2 migrants will need to wait for 12 months from the expiry of their previous visa before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.
·         Introducing new post-study arrangements for graduates switching into Tier 2.

Tier 4 – students

Implementing the final set of changes to the student visa system that were announced in March 2011, including:

·         Extending the interim limit for sponsors that have applied for educational oversight and Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have not yet been assessed.
·         Introducing limits on the time that can be spent studying at degree level.
·         Tightening work placement restrictions.

Tier 5 – temporary workers

·         Limiting the length of time temporary workers can stay in the UK, under certain Government Authorised Exchange schemes, to a maximum of 12 months. The schemes affected are intern, work experience and youth exchange type programmes.
·         Allowing sportspersons who enter under the Tier 5 creative and sporting sub-category to undertake some guest sports broadcasting work where they are not filling a permanent position.
Changes in all tiers of the points-based system
·         Making curtailment mandatory where a migrant under Tiers 2, 4, or 5 of the points-based system has failed to start, or has ceased, their work or study with their sponsor. This includes cases where a sponsor notifies us, via the sponsor management system (SMS), that a migrant is no longer pursuing the purpose of their visa. The Rules will also set out the limited exceptions to mandatory curtailment.
·         Reducing the curtailment threshold (the level of leave you have left which means that we will not normally pursue curtailment) from 6 months to 60 days.
·         Increasing the funds applicants will need to provide evidence of, in order to meet the maintenance requirements for all routes in the points-based system. For Tier 4 and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. For Tier 1, Tier 2 and temporary workers under Tier 5 the changes will come into effect on 14 June 2012.
Visitors
·         The new visitor route will allow a small group of professionals, artists, entertainers and sportspersons who are invited to come to the UK to undertake short-term permitted fee paid engagements for up to 1 month.
Overseas domestic workers
·         Restricting all overseas domestic workers (ODW) to only work for the employer with whom they entered the UK, or whom they came to join.
·         Removing the right for all migrants under the ODW category to apply for settlement.
·         Strengthening the requirement for the employer of an ODW to provide evidence of an existing employer relationship, and introducing a requirement for agreed, written terms and conditions of employment to be produced, as part of the application for entry clearance.
·         Permitting all ODWs who have applied for leave to enter or remain on or before 5 April 2012, to continue to be treated under Immigration Rules in place on that date.
·         Restricting ODWs in private households to work for an employer who is a visitor to the UK. Permission to stay in the UK will be limited to a maximum of 6 months or the period of the employer’s stay whichever is shorter. Removing the current provision for ODWs to be accompanied by dependants.
·         Permitting ODWs in diplomatic households to apply to extend their stay for 12 months at a time up to a maximum of 5 years, or the length of the diplomat’s posting, whichever is shorter.
Sponsors
·         Introducing a Premium Customer Service for those A-rated sponsors in Tiers 2 and 5 who wish to apply and pay for a range of benefits. We will publish the full range of service benefits in due course. The service will launch in the 2012-13 financial year.
In addition to these changes, the government is also making amendments to the extension of leave to remain.
The Home Office has today published 2 financial impact assessments: one on settlement and another on Tier 5 and overseas domestic workers, as well as a policy equality statement.
For full details of the changes please see the Statement of Changes to the Immigration rules (HC 1888) and the Explanatory Memorandum on the right side of this page. The written ministerial statement, impact assessments and the policy equality statement can be found on the Home Office website.
We have previously announced the changes to settlementoverseas domestic workersand students in a series of news stories.
Automatic settlement for skilled workers to end  
29 February 2012
As part of the government’s commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
Immigration Minister Damian Green has today announced the government’s response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK.
 A new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently.
 The new rules will break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever. Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. Skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
 Damian Green said:
‘Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best.
‘Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.’
The government intends to:
·         Continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.
·         Continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000.
·         Allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.
·         make all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000;
·         allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a 12-month ‘cooling off’ period;
·         retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to 6 months’ stay with no right to change employer;
·         Retain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle.
The government also plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.
The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system. The changes announced today will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.
Full details of the proposals, a summary of responses to the consultation, and Damian Green’s written ministerial statement can all be found on the Home Office website.
Private servants in diplomatic households: changes affecting diplomatic missions
29 February 2012
From 6 April 2012, there will be some changes to the procedure for sponsoring a private servant in a diplomatic household under Tier 5 of the points-based system.
These private servants will continue to be able to come to the UK under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), and will still need to be sponsored by the diplomatic mission. But the mission will need to add a ‘sponsor note’ to the certificate of sponsorship assigned to a private servant, giving the name of the diplomat for whom the private servant will work.
The private servant will only be able to work for this diplomat. They will not be able to change to work for another diplomat in the mission, and must leave the UK when the diplomat does (or earlier). The private servant will be able to stay for a maximum of 5 years.
We are also introducing a pre-entry requirement: the private servant and the diplomat for whom they will work must agree and sign written terms and conditions of employment (covering issues such as hours of work, salary and time off). This document must be completed before the private servant can be sponsored, and must be included with their visa application. As the sponsor, the mission will agree that the private servant’s written terms and conditions conform to all relevant UK and European legislation, such as the National Minimum Wage Act and the EU working time directive.
These changes do not affect private servants who are exempt from immigration control because they are servants of the head of a diplomatic mission employed and paid directly by your country.
New student rules to welcome the brightest and best while tackling abuse
13 February 2012
New rules will come into force within weeks to cut abuse of the student visa route and ensure that only the brightest and the best students can stay and work in the UK, Immigration Minister Damian Green announced today.
Students can currently work in the UK for 2 years after their studies have finished, under the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route. But from 6 April, a more selective system will come into effect so only the most talented international graduates can apply to stay in the UK for work purposes.
Only those who graduate from a university, and have an offer of a skilled job at a salary of at least £20,000 (or more in some cases) from a reputable employer accredited by the UK Border Agency, will be able to continue living and working in the UK in order to benefit the British economy.
The rules are part of a radical overhaul of the student visa system, which will:
·         Encourage growth – a new Graduate Entrepreneur route will open, with up to 1,000 places for students working on world-class innovative ideas who want to stay and develop them but do not meet the requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route;
·         Boost the economy – young entrepreneurs or small company directors will get the chance to stay on in the UK after their studies if they have £50,000 to invest in their business;
·         Ensure that students can support themselves – for the first time since 2008, there will be an increase in the amount of money that students and working migrants (and their dependants) must prove they have to support themselves financially during their time in the UK; and
·         Tackle abuse – restricting work placements to one-third of the course for international students who are studying below degree level will ensure that those coming to the UK are here to study, not to work (as was often the case in the past). Additionally, the time that can be spent studying at degree level will be restricted to a general limit of 5 years.
Damian Green said:
‘It is vital that we continue to attract the brightest and the best international students, but we have to be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay.
‘In the past, too many students have come to the UK to work rather than study, and this abuse must end. With the introduction of the Graduate Entrepreneur route and the restrictions on student work, we are reforming the system to deliver immigration to benefit Britain.’
For full details of the changes that are coming into effect, you can download a statement of intent from the Home Office website.
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TUESDAY, 6 MARCH 2012
Here’s another update from the UK Border Agency.
As part of the government’s commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
Immigration Minister Damian Green has today announced the government’s response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK.
A new minimum pay threshold will also mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently.
The new rules will break the link between coming to the UK to work and staying forever. Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. Skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher. Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold. Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
Damian Green said:
‘Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle, and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best.
‘Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.’
The government intends to:
  • continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.
  • continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000.
  • allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold.
  • make all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000;
  • allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a 12-month ‘cooling off’ period;
  • retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to 6 months’ stay with no right to change employer;
  • retain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle.
The government also plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.
The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system. The changes announced today will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.
Full details of the proposals, a summary of responses to the consultation, and Damian Green’s written ministerial statement can all be found on the Home Office website.
Feedbacks: Readers are free to send feedbacks on topics discussed on Migrants Watch UK, their experience on immigration matter or topics they would like to appear on this page by emailing: migrantswatch@hotmail.co.uk

Helpline for Irregular Migrants launching this month

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is launching a helpline to assist undocumented migrants in the UK.
Please read on for further information.
JCWI is delighted to announce the opening of a new advice line – for undocumented migrants in London.
Undocumented migrants do not fall into any of the UK’s legal immigration categories. This includes migrants who entered the country through an irregular channel or do not possess valid documents, migrants who have overstayed their visas, migrants with rejected asylum applications or cases where refugee status was revoked.
One of thousands
Abla (not his real name) is just one of the thousands of migrants who could have benefitted immensely from receiving advice on his irregular immigration status. When Abla was eight years old, his father brought him to the UK, and left him in the care of a family friend. Abla is now nineteen. Having spent the last eleven years in the UK, he completed his primary and secondary schooling here, excelled in extracurricular activities and even secured a place at a UK university. It was only last year, when filling out a student loan application that Alba discovered his irregular migration status – he had overstayed his valid visa.
Even though Abla cannot be held responsible for the decisions that adults made for him while he was a child, the UKBA has decided to reject his application to remain in the UK and has requested that he return to Ghana. Having long-lost all ties with his home country, not only does Abla have nothing to go back to, but the life he has worked so hard to secure for himself is being forcefully taken away. Abla’s story is a case in point for why an advice line such as ours has the potential to change lives. Had Abla received advice on regularising his immigration status before the age of eighteen, his chances of being granted leave to remain would have been significantly higher. We know of many other cases like Abla’s in the UK, in the hundreds if not thousands.
Confidential
Over half of irregular migrants in the UK are believed to live in London. These individuals will now have access to a completely free, completely confidential advice line. Through this service we hope to help so-called irregular migrants to regularise, thus making a huge difference to their lives.
There are an estimated 400,000 irregular migrants in the London area. Thousands of other migrants may be on the verge of irregularity due to increasingly restrictionist immigration policies. JCWI is aware that many such individuals are hesitant to disclose their status due to fear of detection. As one of the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in society, irregular migrants are often unaware of services that may exist to benefit them. The JCWI advice line will address this by offering free advice and assistance regarding their legal status and by referring individuals to outside services better suited to meet their particular needs.
Making a difference
Funded by the Trust for London, the advice line will give irregular or undocumented migrants an opportunity to contact a legal advisor to receive free and confidential advice. Although it would be dishonest to claim we could secure status for anyone, there are irregular migrants who, with the right advice and advocacy, will be able to have their status in the UK assured. The implications for employment, housing, education and access to other rights and services is potentially huge. If we are not able to take on a case, we will instead direct individuals to affiliate organizations providing advice to undocumented migrants on services ranging from health care to housing. The JCWI advice line has the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives.
Information gathered from the advice line calls will also provide JCWI with much needed information on the needs of the irregular migrant community and will give us a better understanding of the nature and scale of the problem. The information we receive will subsequently be used for policy development purposes. While a regularization scheme is not currently on the Government’s agenda, the data we gather can be used to provide services better-suited to the needs of irregular migrants, and inform other policy developments.
You Can Help
A major challenge in making this project work for the people it is designed for is raising awareness and the profile of this service. We ask all our members and readers to help achieve this – by spreading word of the helpline, copying the leaflets and publicity we are producing and getting the message to where it counts.
The advice line launches on Monday 27 February 2012 and will be available for use between 10am and 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Article written by Svetlana Sytnik, who is currently working in the communications department at JCWI.
Feedbacks: Readers are free to send feedbacks on topics discussed on Migrants Watch UK, their experience on immigration matter or topics they would like to appear on this page by emailing: migrantswatch@hotmail.co.uk
 Came across an interesting piece written by Charles Kelly on “Immigration Matters” and couldn’t resist the urge to share it with you. Please read on and feel free to comment on it.

“UK government measures to close the Post Study Work visa route thereby restricting work foreign students can do following graduation is a “retrograde step” that will undermine Britain’s higher education sector, a leading business group has warned this week.

Simon Walker, Director General of the influential business leaders group Institute of Directors (IOD), blasted the moves saying:
“It is pure sophistry to manipulate immigration figures by shooing to the door highly-trained international students with MBAs to make way for unskilled migrants from the EU.”
So called ‘unskilled’ migrants from EU countries such as Poland and newer members from Bulgaria and Romania (on which work restrictions are imposed until 2014) might argue that they are often better educated and more highly skilled than the local work force.
The popular Post Study Work (PSW) visa scheme closes on April 5th 2012 and this is the last date that graduates, most of whom will graduate in July, can make an application.
The idea of the PSW and its processor schemes is that bright graduates would be given a chance to stay on in the UK and find employment.
Hundreds of Immigration Matters readers have posted comments complaining about the sudden withdrawal of PSW when many had invested over £30,000 at UK Universities. Many are also bitter about the date of withdrawal in April when very few of the current years students would have received certificates.
Earlier this week Immigration Matters reported that Under New student visa rules announced, which will take effect in a few weeks time, only graduates who have a job earning more than £20,000 a year from an approved employer may stay in the country after completing their studies.
Graduates with £50,000 to invest in a business may obtain an entrepreneur visa to stay, but in practice it is expected that this will only apply to a small number migrants.
On Tier 4 students from Middle Eastern and emerging market nations, Mr Walker added: “Other countries welcome such students: Britain makes it difficult and artificially expensive for them to enter, and now proposes to eject them ignominiously when their studies are finished.”
UK Universities support the IoD, as they have resisted attempts to reduce the number of foreign students. These make a substantial contribution to their incomes – 9.6 per cent of the higher education sector’s income in 2009-10 came from fees paid by non-EU students.
The universities are lobbying to have students removed from the migration statistics altogether. But Damian Green, immigration minister, said on Monday: “While many think of students as temporary visitors, around 20 per cent of student arrivals were still in the UK five years later.”
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From Wednesday 29 February, all applicants in the UK will need to obtain a biometric residence permit if they are applying to stay here for more than 6 months. This includes applicants for permission to settle here (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’).
To obtain a permit, applicants will need to enroll their biometric information (fingerprints and facial image).
If you are applying in the UK on or after this date (whether applying by post, in person or online), you should use the correct application form. Please pay careful attention to the date shown on the cover of the application form.
If you are applying in person at one of our public enquiry offices under our premium service, and you have booked an appointment on or after 29 February, you must bring the correct form with you to avoid delay.
Feedbacks: Readers are free to send feedbacks on topics discussed on Migrants Watch UK, their experience on immigration matter or topics they would like to appear on this page by emailing: