New English Language Requirement for non-EU Partners and Parents

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Being able to speak the English language has long been a requirement for non-EU individuals wishing to join or extend their stay with their settled partner or parent in the UK. As of now, meeting the English language requirement has been straightforward and set at level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) for both entry clearance and extension applications.

In January 2016, David Cameron announced that there was an intention to introduce a revised English language requirement, set at level A2 of the CEFR, for both partners and parents wishing to extend their leave under the Family Life Immigration Rules.

The exact date of the new English language requirement had not been set, however, ex UK Prime Minister, Cameron, stated that this requirement would not be implemented prior to October 2016.

Fast-forward to 3 November 2016 (when the A2 English language requirement statement of intent was announced by the Home Office) and it is now certain that the new level A2 requirement for parents and partners extending their existing leave in the UK will be introduced from 1 May 2017.

This will mean that for those individuals who were previously on the cusp of failing their entry clearance English language test, the new requirement may prove too challenging, unless they have since brushed up on their English language skills.

Anticipated Autumn Statement of Changes Announced

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After weeks of waiting for the expected Autumn Immigration Rule changes, many will have been left wondering whether the proposed changes were ever going to take place. However, yesterday, the Home Office  announced that the long-awaited changes would come into power on the 24th November 2016.

Some key changes to note include:

  • Increases to the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold to £25,000 for experienced staff. Some exemptions apply.
  • Increases to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold to £30,000 for short-term staff.
  • Removing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.
  • The Graduate Trainee sub-category will face changes too. There will be a reduction to the salary threshold from £24,800 to £23,000. The number of places a sponsor can use will be increased from 5 to 20 per annum.

The Home Office are yet to confirm a date for the introduction of an Immigration Health Surcharge for the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category.

A surprising announcement came in the form of changes for out of time applications. Historically, applications submitted within 28 days of leave expiring, have been accepted by the Home Office. Once the new rules are implemented, out of time applications will fall for refusal unless submitted within 14 days and the reason for overstaying is both strong and out of the applicant’s control.

Illegal working closure notices

As of the 1 December 2016, employers must note that further provisions of the Immigration Act 2016 are due to take place. Should the proposed changes take effect in December, employers must beware that Immigration Officers will have the power to close business premises for a maximum of 48 hours for employers who have committed offences related to immigration. The Home Office will also be able to apply to the court for a compliance order to enforce special measures on the employer to avert illegal working.

The above changes highlight the government’s ever-increasing hardline approach towards immigration and there is no doubt that future amendments will take a similar line.