Up to 93% of businesses risk sponsor licence revocation through non-compliance

About the research

Migrate UK surveyed 1,000 organisations (SMEs with 250 or less employees to large businesses with 250+ staff), who currently hold a Tier 2/Tier 5 licence to sponsor overseas workers.

  • Companies need to get ‘house in order’ to prevent loss of talent through non-compliance before the UK exits the EU
  • Key errors in ‘right to work checks, audits and job advertisements on migrant workers – only 7% of businesses advertise vacancies correctly
  • Businesses still not aware of risks and consequences of Home Office audit/compliance check, from fines to closure

The research conducted was published in The Independent on Wednesday 27th September 2017:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/up-to-93-of-uk-firms-could-lose-their-licence-to-sponsor-foreign-workers-a7970556.html

Up to 93% of businesses risk sponsor licence revocation for migrant workers and many are also at risk of instant Home Office closure, new research has found.

Just months before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019, less than a third of companies are aware of the serious sanctions in place for non-compliance to strict ‘right to work’ rules for overseas workers, from fines to prison sentences for Directors, or even instant closure – not least the potential impact to business’ reputation.

Only a third of businesses knew what documents should be kept on file for sponsored overseas workers and 95% of company sponsors were not reporting all the required changes in circumstances for sponsored workers. It also found that just 7% of companies are advertising job vacancies correctly when filling a job for a non-EEA citizen under sponsorship rules, along with other key errors in business compliances, checks and audits.

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Caught short

The findings revealed that businesses are not carrying out sufficient internal compliance audits to ensure internal policies, procedures and guidelines follow the required ‘duties’ of a sponsor to ensure they meet the Home Office’s stringent ‘on the spot’ compliance checks.

Whether a business is caught intentionally using illegal overseas workers, or has broken the law innocently for failing to have their paperwork in order, since July 2016 the Home Office has introduced harsher punishments from increased prison sentences to ‘on the spot’ closure for companies who are unable to meet the strict provisions of the new Immigration Act 2016.

Employers that hold a Sponsor Licence to employ a non-EU worker have an obligation to keep specific records. For example, all attendance and absences from work, evidence of a market test (where required), professional accreditations, and copies of pay slips. While they are not subject to the same penalties under Right to Work checks, just the smallest discrepancy in an employees’ data can lead to a Sponsor having their licence suspended or revoked.

Businesses also unaware of paperwork needed for British workersBritish passport

While at least 38% of businesses were found to need training on what official documents must be held for non-British/non-EEA workers, half of the businesses were also unaware of the paperwork they should keep for British workers, including an up-to-date copy of a passport photo page, or a British birth certificate including the name(s) of a least one parent or adoptive parents.

The impact of Brexit

Jonathan Beech, Managing Director, Migrate UK said: “Many businesses are already seeing a growing skills problem in the UK, particularly in the IT, finance and engineering sectors relying heavily on skills from outside the UK which will decline if companies fail to get their ‘house in order’ and prevent a loss of talent before the UK exits the EU.

While we’re being contacted by more prepared businesses who are running Brexit projects and asking us how we can help them during the lead up, as our research found, too many companies are sleepwalking towards the challenges ahead.

With a new UK immigration system said to be due in place by March 2019 when the free movement of people between the EU and the UK ends, it is likely that EEA citizens will need some kind of clearance to enter the UK to work, and sponsorship is one way they could do this. Losing a licence post-Brexit will be even worse news as skills shortages become even more acute.

Employers wishing to retain both EU and non-EEA workers need to get fully prepared ahead of Brexit. HR files should be kept for all workers, endorsed and with passport copies. Carry out internal audits to ensure all correct paperwork is in place should the Home Office make a visit. Finally, while informing EU nationals that their status has not yet changed, they should be aware of their ability to apply for a Registration Certificate, Permanent Residency or British Naturalisation if they want to safeguard their future in Britain.”

Summary of UK Government’s Brexit Plans

A leaked Executive Summary for EU citizens, has made a number of proposals to limit their working and residence rights following the UK’s exit from the EU in March 2019.

From this date, EU citizens will require to travel to the UK on a valid passport; National ID cards will no longer suffice as evidence.

Skills-led regime

For EU citizens wishing to enter the UK to work, the Home Office proposes to introduce a skills-led regime, in which employers and EU citizens will not have the free-reign to select which employees/employers they wish to work for. The Home Office looks to introduce the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) for EU citizens; as is the case for non-EU citizens entering the UK for work purposes. The RLMT generally means having to advertise a job vacancy throughout the UK to provide resident workers the chance to respond.

In addition, the job/skill level and pay rate will influence the length of permission to stay awarded by the UK Home Office; this could be low-skilled migrants being awarded maximum 2-years, whereas highly skilled occupations can be anything between 3-5 years. Therefore, a selective approach is being adopted by the Home Office dependant on the UK’s economic and social needs, thus cutting down the number of low skilled migrants entering the UK.

There is also an intent to only provide a route to settlement to individuals in highly skilled occupations and their dependents; consideration of ‘highly skilled’ will be on par to the current Points Based System (PBS) Tier 2 skills threshold and occupational categories for non-EU citizens; this at present is NQF Level 6 and PhD level roles.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have been charged with examining “the overall role of migration in the wider economy and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.”

The MAC will study the “economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the UK economy”, its impact on competitiveness, and whether there would be benefits to focusing migration on high-skilled jobs. It is due to report back by September 2018 – just six months before Brexit.

Although the Government proposes to safeguard the position of EU Citizens following March 2019; it has also hinted at ‘ending the right to settle in Britain’ for EU nationals, and placing new restrictions on the rights to accompanying family members to the UK. The ‘New Status’ in the UK means that regardless as to when a EU national entered the UK, they will need to obtain permission from the Home Office to continue to remain. This will therefore incur further fees for applications, which the Home Office proposes will be set at a ‘reasonable level’ and those with Permanent Residence, will still be expected to obtain ‘Settled Status’ if they fail to submit an application to Naturalise as a British citizen prior to March 2019.

A new UK Legal Framework

An ‘Immigration Status’ under UK Law will be imposed; EU Citizens will no longer have automatic generic ‘rights’ to move to the UK. Instead, they will need to meet the Immigration Rules in place at the time, and apply to the Home Office; in addition, the Rules will differ depending on the individual’s purpose for travelling to the UK.

Paragraph 2.10 of the leaked Home Office publication states that in the future, all EU Citizens will enter the UK under the UK Legal Framework – again reference to abolishing the entire existence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Proposals to introduce the ‘deemed’ Leave to Enter (LTE) criteria have been put forward, which would allow an EU national to enter the UK for work, study or self-sufficiency for a period of 3-6months; however, thereafter if the EU national wishes to remain in the UK, they will be expected to make an application to the Home Office for further Leave to Remain (LTR). The ‘deemed’ LTE can be cancelled by a Border Force Officer at any-time, should the EU national’s character come into question. It is worth noting that the ‘deemed’ LTE category will not extend to non-EU family members of EU nationals; they will be expected to seek permission to enter the UK prior to travel. This is similar to the current procedures followed by non-EU family members applying for a Family Permit.

Further to this; EU nationals who are in the UK as job-seekers will not be awarded residence status unless they can confirm they are self-sufficient persons of independent means.

In addition, following the removal of the CJEU, the routes under Zambrano and Surinder Singh will be abolished as the intention is to give the UK Courts the ability to set new precedents moving forward.

Employer compliance

Employers will be expected to conduct ‘right to work checks’ evidenced via a valid Passport confirming EU nationality, or via a Home Office biometric immigration document. Failure by any EU citizen to comply with measures in place, by remaining in the UK longer than the unrestricted period allows, without a valid residence permit will be committing a criminal offence, which may lead to sanctions being applied against the employer and EU citizen; this could result to re-entry bans for the EU citizen and criminal investigations against an employer.

The House of Lords approach

GDP – Gross Domestic Product for the UK will be measured taking into account the GDP per head of existing residents; the House of Lords has also stated that ‘analysis should rather be on the effects of immigration on income per head of the resident population’. Therefore, EU nationals will be deemed valuable to the UK only if, they not only benefit themselves, but also, they ensure that existing residents are better off. As a rule, wherever possible, UK employers will be expected to meet their labour needs from the resident labour market – the UK Government wishes to build on the domestic skills to build a strong and competitive market. This will be through investing in training for the resident labour market, which in the last 20 years has declined.

Intra-company transfers

When designing the future immigration policy for EU citizens, the UK proposes that it will be desirable to bring in highly skilled EU citizens and allow companies to attract global talent. Further provisions will be made for intra company transferee’s – however, currently this route does not lead to settlement for non-EU nationals, and the same can be expected for EU citizens. Currently, non-EU nationals must be sponsored by a UK employer to enter the UK and work for their particular business; this may be the future for EU citizens; sponsorship from a UK employer allowing them to work in the UK; therefore, taking away the flexibility of switching from one employer to another without having a sponsorship in place.

10 Key ‘Post Brexit’ Points

  1. Phased Withdrawal: there will be three stages to the transformation of the UK’s immigration policies; the initial phase, before Brexit, will introduce the immigration bill, this will be followed by the implementation phase ‘of at least two years’ and the final phase will put in place the new tougher rules.
  2. Britain first: this language confirms that the new immigration policies will be much more UK-focused.
  3. Passports and border controls: Proposal suggest that in the future, EU nationals will need to show their valid passport when coming to the UK; National ID cards will no longer suffice.
  4. Free-movement during phase 2 and biometric identification: The UK ‘will end free movement in its current form’ after the UK leaves the EU. During phase 2 (the implementation phase), people who wish to reside here for an extended period will have to provide proof of citizenship either with a passport ‘or a Home Office biometric immigration document’; also known as a Biometric Resident Permit.
  5. Permits, fingerprints – and cost: When applying for a resident permit for the UK, certain documents and fingerprints will need to be provided.
  6. Permits for most workers will only last for up to two years: Highly skilled occupations and those with ‘real expertise’ will be offered permits for longer than 3 years during phase 3 (when the rules are made tougher).
  7. Restricting the rights of EU family members to enter and remain in the UK: Again, the Home Office seeks to put in place a tougher regime which restricts residency to ‘partners, minor children under the age of 18 and adult dependent relatives’; therefore, extended family members will no longer qualify as family members under the new tougher laws.
  8. Income requirements for some EU nationals: Although precise details have been withheld, a new income threshold for some EU citizens before being permitted to reside in the UK.
  9. British workers prioritised: The new rules will set out to make it harder for employers to employ labour from EU countries, by reducing the opportunity for workers to settle long-term in the UK and to prevent family members from joining them in the UK – especially low-skilled workers; thus, forcing UK employers to think twice before employing from the EU.
  10. Refusing Entry: this will strengthen the UK’s ability to refuse entry to EU citizens with a criminal record, or those considered a threat to the UK – the vetting process may be aided by an online screening procedure.

Migrate UK recommendations

The UK government will be reluctant to verify or comment on any of the leaked information above. Current Home Office policy dictates that nothing has changed and that EU ‘qualified persons’ residing in the UK continue to benefit from free movement rights. However, the leaked document clearly outlines the vision for change so it is important that EU citizens and family members check their eligibility for both Permanent Residency AND British Naturalisation applications. A valid and qualifying British Naturalisation application must be submitted before the official EU exit date in order to avoid being subject to an ‘Immigration Status’ under proposed UK law.

For employers, it is important to identify their EU citizen workers and where possible ascertain when they entered the UK and became a ‘qualified person’ (employed, self-employed, work seeker, student, self-sufficient). This will enable an employer to effectively map out the future of their employees as new immigration legislation is announced.

For family members of EU citizens; employers will need to check the resident permits of a family member of EU national if they wish to work in the UK. Therefore, this will not only effect the EU citizen working in the UK, it will also affect their EU or non-EU family member.

However, employers must remember that family members of low-skilled EU citizens will be less likely to be permitted entry into the UK, therefore, acting as a deterrent for EU citizens on low skilled jobs to enter the UK initially; as oppose to highly-skilled workers whom will have been awarded a residence permit between 3-5 years.

The Brexit countdown has started. Here are 3 things EU citizens can do to secure their right to live and work in the UK

B-O-E

29 March 2017 will go down in history as the day Britain officially announced its resignation from the European Union by triggering Article 50. But why is this date so significant?

29 March marks the beginning of the end of a 44-year long relationship with the European Union. 29 March marks the beginning of a new era of politics for both Britain and the EU.

While there are countless topics that Britain and the EU must discuss during divorce proceedings such as trade, policing and intelligence, an issue on the minds of all EU citizens is whether or not their residency rights will be guaranteed as part and parcel of UK-EU negotiations.

So with all this in mind, a minority government and a lack of clarity on negotiation strategy, what can EU citizens do to secure their right to live and work in the UK?

  1. Apply for a Registration Certificate

Those EU citizens who have not been in the UK exercising their treaty rights for a minimum of 5 years (i.e. working, studying or being self-sufficient) can apply for a Registration Certificate. Whilst a Registration Certificate is not a mandatory requirement to prove your residency status in the UK, it can assist with demonstrating that you were in the country prior to any official Brexit dates. Should any issues arise in the future, you will have an element of immunity and be able to prove that you have not entered the UK recently, thus, fortifying your case to stay in the country regardless of future events.

  1. Apply for Permanent Residence – EEA(PR)

If you are an EU national, you have been residing in the UK for a minimum of 5 years and you have been exercising your treaty rights (i.e. working, studying, being a registered job-seeker or a self-sufficient individual), then you may be eligible to appresidly for EEA(PR). There are a few caveats however, including  the requirement to have held Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) if you were either a student or a self-sufficient person. This also includes those individuals who have not been a registered job seeker during periods of unemployment. Permanent Residence will secure your right to live and work in the UK in the event of a hard Brexit and will guarantee your right to remain in the country regardless of negotiation outcomes.

  1. Apply for Naturalisation as a British Citizen

Unless you are married to a British citizen, those EU citizens who have held Permanent Residence for at least 12 months can apply to naturalise as a British citizen. To naturalise, you must be a person of good character (i.e. not having a serious or recent criminal record) and in most circumstances, need to meet the English language requirement, complete the Life in the UK Test and must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of your application. You must have also not spent more than 450 days outside of those 5 consecutive years and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months. Becoming a British citizen would enable EU citizens to vote in all future UK elections and referendums as well as secure their right of abode in the country.

Currently, none of the above recommendations are mandatory but if like many other EU citizens, you do not feel at ease with the current lack of clarity and worry about your residency rights, we recommend that you consider looking into the above options.

Sponsors Beware! Immigration Rule Changes Lie Ahead

EAfter much anticipation, yesterday on the 16th March, the Home Office released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. These changes will predominantly affect those applications using a Certificate of Sponsorship once the changes are implemented on the 6th April 2017.

Below, we have highlighted some of the main changes that are about to take place.

Immigration Skills Charge

  • As of the 6th April 2017, an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) of £364 will apply to small and charitable organisations in all Tier 2 categories. All other sponsors with workers in Tier 2 categories will need to pay £1000 per worker per annum.
  • Some exemptions to the ISC will apply for Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainees, PhD level roles and those individuals switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 within the United Kingdom.

Overseas Criminal Record Certificates

  • The requirement to present an overseas criminal record certificate will be extended to Tier 2 (General) applicants working in health and social care as well as education. This will also apply to the applicant’s adult dependant(s).
  • Some of the occupation classification codes include 2213 – Pharmacists, 2442 Social Workers and 2312 – Further education teaching professionals.
  • Partners wishing to join their Tier 2 (General) partner in the UK will also need to present a criminal record certificate if they are applying from outside of the UK and their partner works in any of the mentioned sectors. Please refer to the Standard Occupation Classification codes for more information.

Immigration Health Surcharge

  • The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has already been introduced as of 2015 and applies to those non-EEA individuals who wish to work, study or join their family in the UK.
  • Currently, those individuals applying under the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) category, are exempt from paying the IHS. However, as of 6th April 2017, the Intra-company Transfer category will no longer be exempt from the IHS. Applicants will be required to pay a surcharge of £200 per individual per annum. Dependants will also need to pay this.

Further Changes to the Tier 2 Category

  • High-earners’ salary requirement for the Intra-company Transfer Long Term Staff category will be reduced from £155,300 to £120,000. High earners will be able to stay in the UK under this category for a maximum of nine years compared to the usual five years.
  • The Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Short Term Staff category will be closed to streamline the process, thus, the salary threshold will be £41,500.
  • The minimum salary that sponsors are able to offer Tier 2 (General) experience workers will be increased from £25,000 to £30,000. There will be some exemptions to roles in the education and health sectors until 1st July 2019.
  • Teachers in secondary schools within mandarin and computer science will be added to the Shortage Occupation list.
  • Those individuals with a salary of at least £73,900 in the Intra-company Transfer category will not be required to have at least one year’s experience of working for the sponsor’s overseas entity.
  • A waiver will be introduced for the Resident Labour Market Test, as well as an exemption from the Tier 2 (General) limit for posts supporting the relocation of high value businesses to the UK.
  • There will be annual updates to the appropriate salary rates in the codes of practice.

Changes for Overstayers in the UK

  • The period of overstaying in the UK which is allowed prior to a re-entry ban will be reduced threefold from 90 days to 30. This marks a significant change for overstayers. Unless exclusions apply, any individual who has overstayed for more than 30 days will face a 12 month re-entry ban.

With all of these changes in mind, Migrate UK suggests that sponsors get their house in order prior to the implementation of the new rules or they could risk facing refusal. Sponsors must also ensure that they have the mechanisms in place to be able to pay for the extra charges come April. Of significant note is the news that the Immigration Skills Charge will need to be paid for by debit or credit card only.

The above changes suggest that the government is taking a hardline approach towards Tier 2, while still trying to appeal to shortage occupation and high-value workers. How effective this will be remains to be seen.

Immigration Skills Charge to be Combined with Certificate of Sponsorship Payment

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This morning, surprising news came in the form of an addendum on the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) by the Home Office.

As of 6th April 2017, the Immigration Skills Charge will need to be paid for at the same time as the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) payment. Once implemented, the skills charge will apply to all Tier 2 sponsors sponsoring non-EEA employees under both the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) sub-categories. Please note there will be exemptions, including those who are in the UK prior to April 6th, Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) graduate trainees, workers with a specific PhD level occupation and Tier 4 student visa holders in the UK switching to Tier 2 (General).

This will come as a shock to many sponsors who were previously able to buy time in relation to paying additional Home Office fees after issuing the CoS. As of April 2017, sponsors could end up paying thousands of pounds from the outset of the application process. For example, if an employee is sponsoring a Tier 2 worker for 3 years, once the CoS is completed the sponsor will need to pay £199 plus the Immigration Skills Charge for 3 years which is £3000 (£1000 per year), making a grand total of £3199. These costs do not include the additional Immigration Health Surcharge as well as the application fee itself.

Migrate UK’s advice to current sponsors would be to get you applications in early before the cut-off date to save thousands of pounds and plan for these changes.

 It can be argued that these extra charges are a government attempt to reduce net migration figures, however, with a skills shortage in sectors such as healthcare and IT, it will be interesting to see what approach the government takes towards balancing net-migration and a skills gap.

Medical and Teaching Professionals to be Affected by Important Changes as of April 2017

Female hand writing on paper

Sponsors may be surprised to know that as of 6 April 2017, they will need to ensure that those employees applying to work in the UK under particular SOC codes, have checked whether they are subject to a new requirement to produce a criminal record certificate as stipulated under Paragraph 320(2A) of the Immigration Rules. This applies to individuals who are aged 18 and above and are applying from any country in which they have been residing for 12 months or over, consequently or cumulatively in the past 10 years.

As of January 2017, sponsors are advised by the Home Office to begin informing possible employees of such changes from the time they assign their Certificate of Sponsorship that they could be subject to the new requirements by the time they make their application. This will give prospective employees enough time to begin requesting certificates. Affected SOC codes (at present) are predominantly within medical and teaching professions.

As a warning to all sponsors, Migrate UK recommends that you plan ahead of the changes in April to ensure that employees requiring a criminal record certificate, are not caught out at the last minute.

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

rules

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.

 

‘Brexit’ – what does this mean for EU citizens?

Current political uncertainties will be a cause for concern for many individualsBrexit...

With political activity in Britain over the last few days resembling a typhoon, you would be mistaken for thinking that the UK voted to leave the EU over a year ago. Only two weeks back, this pivotal vote was announced.

Since the EU referendum we have seen a Prime Minister resign, MPs furiously racing to become candidates for the top job and EU leaders hastily running to emergency meetings. If that wasn’t enough, the top two candidates for the role of PM, Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, are promising different things when it comes to protecting the right to remain of EU nationals in the UK.

Home Secretary, Theresa May, has refused to publically state whether EU nationals may be asked to leave the UK, whereas Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom, has vowed to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK.

In reality, there is no certainty as to whether protecting the rights of EU nationals is something that can be achieved for definite without Article 50 and, therefore, negotiations being triggered beforehand.

At the moment, everything that politicians, journalists and the general public have been talking about regarding ‘Brexit’ is speculative.

In the meantime, here are a few scenarios that may unfold in the coming years:

A right to remain for qualified persons  

It is likely that those EU nationals currently residing in the UK as qualified persons (workers, job-seekers, students, self-employed and self-sufficient individuals) will have an automatic right to remain provided that they apply for some sort of residency document proving their right to live and work in the United Kingdom. The main concern would be those individuals that are not seen as qualified persons and whether their immigration status would be safe.

An ‘Australian style’ points based system

Whilst we already have a British points based system in place for non-EU citizens, it is likely that a similar, ‘Australian style’ points based system would be applicable to all EU and non-EU citizens wanting to live and work in the UK. If the current points based system is anything to go by, industries such as construction and catering would likely to be hit hardest.

Restrictions for new EU citizen arrivals post official Brexit

As it stands, most EU citizens already in the UK should (in theory) have a safe immigration status, however, it is highly likely that post the UK officially leaving the European Union, which is not likely to happen until at least the 1st January 2019, new EU citizens would be faced with restrictions on living and working in the UK.

What we recommend for EU citizens

From now on, we recommend that all EU citizens thinking of living in the UK post-Brexit, hold paper based evidence of their immigration status in the UK. At the moment, EU nationals can work in the UK by showing evidence of their original passport or EU identity card. Depending on how long EU nationals have resided in the UK, it is now highly recommended that they either apply for a permanent residency document (if they have been a qualified person for at least 5 continuous years in the UK), or a residency certificate.

Numerous EU citizens will be caught out with the fact that they did not take out comprehensive sickness insurance at a time when they were either a self-sufficient person, a work-seeker or student.

In a nutshell, we advise individuals to keep up to speed with current affairs, UK/EU negotiations and not to panic. In effect, changes will only take place after negotiations have concluded.

Good news for Tier 4 Students

Students

On the 24th March, the Home Office responded to the Migration Advisory Committee recommendations and it’s good news for students.

Tier 4 students switching into Tier 2 (General) will not be faced with a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) or subject to a cap on numbers. There is no doubt that we will not only see universities breathe a sigh of relief, but also the students themselves who already pay thousands of pounds per annum to study in the United Kingdom. The government also aims to keep the minimum threshold for new entrants to £20,800.

If many people awaiting the Home Office response to the MAC recommendations were not surprised enough, Tier 2 (General) applicants will not face immediate hikes in salary thresholds with minimum thresholds being phased in slowly between autumn of this year and April 2017. In autumn 2016, the minimum salary threshold will be £25,000, increasing to £30,000 in April 2017.

According to the Home Office, various education and health professionals will even be exempt from the higher threshold altogether until July 2019, a welcome break for numerous employers and applicants.

It is clear that the government is placing emphasis on the need for healthcare professionals who there is currently a shortage of. Nurses will continue to be on the Shortage Occupation List, however, employers will need to ensure that a RLMT is carried out prior to recruiting non-EEA nurses once the rules are implemented.

Tier 2 (ICT) will also face some changes in an attempt to streamline the process into a single visa category, requiring a minimum salary threshold of £41,500 – excluding graduate trainees.

Whilst it was predicted that an Immigration Skills Charge of £1,000 per applicant per annum would take effect as of the 6th April 2016, the Home Office have announced that this will be introduced in April 2017. There will also be a lower rate for small sponsors, at £364 per annum and an exemption for Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees, PhD occupations, and Tier 4 students switching into Tier 2.

Migrate UK Managing Director, Jonathan Beech, says that “I’m sure that many people (including myself) have been taken by surprise to see that the Home Office will only implement a few of the MAC recommendations, giving sponsors and applicants a grace period to submit prior to April 2017, when we will see some of the largest changes introduced.”