Statement of Changes under Tier 1 Investor Route

Tier 1 Investor Route Changes 

An anticipated ministerial statement was laid before Parliament on the 16th October 2014, highlighting key changes to the current Immigration Rules.

On the 6th November 2014 significant changes to the Immigration Rules will be implemented in the Tier 1 (Investor) category, which is being transformed following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee.  The new amendments, announced in the Statement of Changes, will double minimum investment requirements, remove the ‘topping-up’ provision and not accept loaned funds.

Highlights of the Statement of Changes:

  • From 6th November 2014, Individuals wishing to enter the UK with a Tier 1 (Investor) visa, will be faced with a minimum £2 million GBP investment requirement, double the current minimum prerequisites. This is a significant increase upon the current £1 million investment requirement. The Home Office will also have more power over application decisions, as revealed below;
  • As of the 6th November, applicants will no longer be able to rely on loaned funds, the investment sum needs to be owned by the individual.
  • With reasonable grounds, the Home Office will have the power to refuse applications (even if all criteria has been met). This could be on cases where the applicant has obtained funds unlawfully or from 3rd parties.
  • Investors will no longer be able to ‘top-up’ their investment if it drops in value due to market fluctuations. The UK Government is, thus, encouraging investors to invest in higher risk investments which could potentially benefit the United Kingdom.
  • The Government will shortly consult on specific types of investment that this route should encourage to deliver financial benefits to the UK.
  • 100% of funds need to be invested into main investment funds as opposed to the current 75%. This could have an impact on the investor’s funds depending on how much is invested.

The above points highlight some of the key alterations outlined in the Statement of Changes for the Tier 1 (Investor) route.

For more information on how these changes could affect you, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Is UK Immigration Policy Restraining the Technology Boom?

In recent years, the UK’s technology sector has grown rapidly with the creation of ‘silicon roundabout’ and the numerous tech firms located nearby. There have been $30bn technology start-ups produced since the early 2000s in Europe alone. With many originating from the United Kingdom.

The UK is perhaps leading the way in terms of technology sector growth and its economic implications. However, recent reports show that the technology sector could be faced with a skills shortage, a position feared by many employers. This shortage of qualified, highly skilled migrants in the technology sector may be down to the UK’s ‘stringent’ immigration policy according to critics.

Reports show that the Points Based System has proven to be complex for many firms in terms of compliance, with smaller companies struggling to meet various immigration requirements. Thus, putting employers off from hiring abroad altogether.

If the technology sector is to continue booming in the UK, it seems that the immigration rules will need to be relaxed, with highly skilled migrants along with students being prioritised.

Lord Heseltine recently stated that students should also be exempt from immigration cuts, this could also have a profound effect on the technology boom because graduates play a huge role in the technology sector.

 

Leading Professors show disdain towards immigration policies

Professor Andrew Hamilton, vice-chancellor of Oxford University and Professor John O’Keefe, recent Nobel Prize Winner for his research into the brain’s ability to create a map of its surroundings and navigate it, have vehemently criticised the UK’s immigration policy. Both are of the opinion that its stringent nature is restricting our acquisition of the top talent from overseas.

The Financial Times reports that Professor Hamilton, speaking at his annual oration to the university, said that when he travelled abroad, “one question persists – why has the UK adopted a visa system so hostile to student entry?” It has become a well versed belief that the government’s desire to tighten the student visa system is detrimental to most universities’ ability to recruit gifted and economically valuable students.

He also goes on to add, “there are few votes in restricting overseas student numbers”, and that this realisation needs to be, “welcomed and encouraged ahead of the election.”

Nobel Prize Winner Professor John O’Keefe holds a similar opinion on UK immigration. Quoted in an article on the BBC, he suggests that, “we should be thinking hard about making Britain a more welcoming place.” He believes that the immigration rules are a genuine hindrance when it comes to hiring the best scientists worldwide.

“Science is international, the best scientists can come from anywhere, they can come from next door or they can come from a small village in a country anywhere in the world – we need to make it easier.”

The Home Office have suggested that the introduction of a new “exceptional talent” visa would facilitate the migration of “world leaders” in science to the UK. However, and similarly with the student visa route, the UK needs to become more welcoming and less hostile to the best overseas talent. There is little doubt that the immigration debate in the run up to next year’s election has begun….

Tory migrant cap detrimental to UK economy

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has written to Home Secretary Theresa May warning that the restrictions on non-EU migrant workers are damaging the UK’s economic recovery. The Financial Times reports that for the first time since the introduction in 2011 of restrictions on workers from outside the EU, the 20,700 annual limit is set to be exceeded.

Last year, 6,780 visas remained unallocated and Cable has suggested that if ministers decide not to scrap the restrictions altogether, the Home Office ought to allow the allocations from previous years to be rolled over to 2014. According to official figures, in June, July and August the monthly allocation of 1,725 visas was exceeded.

In attempting to meet the Conservative Party’s target of curbing net migration by next year’s election, Ms May could be hampering businesses hiring the most suitable talent they require to fill important vacancies when the UK economy needs it most. As well as removing the cap, lowering the £153,500 salary threshold would allow more jobs to become available to talented migrants who could possess skills lacking in a number of sectors in the UK.

Skills shortages in the UK are not a new phenomenon and it is crucial to the UK’s economic prospects that the immigration legislation creates avenues for skillful migrants to contribute to growth in the UK.

Tier 1 General: an important reminder

The Tier 1 (General) category visa was closed to new applicants outside the UK on 6th April 2010 and as of 6th April 2015, will close to applicants who wish to extend their visa. If you applied for a Tier 1 (General) visa on or after 6th April 2010, you can extend your visa for a maximum of 3 years.  Those who applied for either a writer, composer or artist visa, a self-employed lawyer visa, applied under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme or for Tier 1 (General) before 6th April 2010, may extend or switch to Tier 1 (General) for a maximum of 2 years. Dependants can still apply to join applicants who have obtained prior entry clearance for Tier 1 (General).

In addition to this, as of 6th April 2018, applications for indefinite leave to remain will no longer be accepted under the Tier 1 (General) category. Therefore, those currently in the UK under Tier 1 (General) must submit an application for indefinite leave to remain on or before 5th April 2018. You can qualify for settlement once you have been in the UK for a consecutive 5 year period. Should you require any advice regarding your Tier 1 (General) extension or indefinite leave to remain application, do not hesitate to get in touch

Landlords beware…hefty fines introduced in order to prevent housing of illegal immigrants

From 1st December 2014, landlords in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton will be required to check that that any adult aged over 18 has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them. If after this date a property is let to someone who doesn’t hold the right to rent, landlords could face fines of up to £3,000.

Under section 22 of the 2014 Immigration Act, unless the person is a British citizen, EEA or Swiss national or someone with the “right to rent”, which entails being lawfully compliant with current immigration legislation, a landlord should not permit anyone to rent property under a residential tenancy agreement starting on or after 1st December. The restriction and civil penalty provisions referred to as “the Scheme”, aim to make certain that immigrants who are present in the UK illegally are unable to establish a settled life in the UK.

Landlords can carry out, without needing to contact the Home Office, basic document checks in order to avoid a civil penalty; suitable identity includes passports or biometric residence permits. Landlords letting property to people with a time-limited right to rent will need to conduct follow up checks in order to remain compliant and avoid a potential fine. If these reveal that an individual no longer has the “right to rent”, landlords will have to not only keep detailed records of their checks, but must report to the Home Office within a certain timeframe.

If you think this legislative change might affect you, the Codes of Practice gives an in depth explanation; including whether you are affected and if any exemptions apply.

Alarming Statistics

Sponsorship Transparency Statistics Show why Sponsor Compliance is Crucial…

With the lead up to the general election in 2015 and the rising anti-immigration rhetoric from Eurosceptics, the government in Westminster have been under constant pressure to act on growing migration statistics from both EEA and non EEA citizens. Immigration enforcement has been catapulted to the forefront of the government’s plans and it appears that this will not be changing any time soon.

On the 28th August 2014, fresh sponsorship transparency data surfaced, revealing several immigration enforcement figures during the second quarter of 2014.

The data shows that a high number of sponsors were either suspended or had their licences revoked throughout the second quarter of 2014, for failing to comply with the immigration rules or their sponsor obligations.

Most notably, the data illustrates that within Tier 2 (employee sponsorship), a total of 197 sponsors had their Licences suspended and 118 licences were revoked for misconduct.

The recent statistics highlight that no individual, firm or education authority is immune from immigration enforcement and it reiterates the significance of compliance and the serious nature of misconduct.

In addition, 2014 saw the strict enforcement of Secure English Language testing. Over 1,800 cases were faced with refusal or removal decisions in respect of the ETS-linked English language tests. Almost 800 enforcement visits were made, with over 90 individuals being removed from the United Kingdom.

Lawfulness of a minimum income threshold upheld

Court of Appeal judgement upholds lawfulness of minimum income threshold 

On the 11th July 2014, the lawfulness of a minimum income threshold was upheld by a Court of Appeal judgement under new family migration rules.

In July 2012, changes were made to immigration rules for British citizens who wanted to sponsor a non-EEA spouse or partner/children to come and live in the UK. Notably, a minimum income threshold was introduced for sponsorship applications.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee suggested that the income threshold should be set at £18,600 for a spouse/partner. This would increase to £22,400 for sponsoring a child and an extra £2,400 for every additional child applying.

A High Court judgement in July 2013, which found that the impact of the minimum income threshold may be disproportionate on family life, was overturned on the 11th July 2014.

This judgement will mean that previous cases which met every requirement excluding the minimum income threshold, could be refused unless there are extenuating circumstances. The 4,000 individuals with applications on hold will now receive a decision from the 28th July onwards.

Londoners and Graduates of the opinion that Immigration is good for the UK Economy

Recent legislative changes to UK Immigration Law have paved the way for economic prosperity here in Britain. One notable example is the expansion of the exceptional talent route, allowing Tech City UK to endorse top innovators in their field to come to the UK without the need for a sponsoring employer.

As far as Graduates and Londoners go, these types of changes can continue as 60% of the former and 54% of the latter believe that immigration is beneficial for the economy. This compares with 28% of people in other parts of the UK and 17% of those without qualifications. These statistics come from the latest British Social Attitudes Survey, which also highlights a number of prevalent issues, including the unavoidable divide on immigration.

The groups who dominate British political and social institutions such as Londoners, who are in much more frequent contact with migrants, and middle class professionals all tend to be more positive about immigration. In contrast, the vast majority of other groups are negative, possibly illustrating the widespread notion that the ‘ruling classes’ are out of touch on the issue.

It is important that the British public are made aware of not only the benefit of migrants and their wide range of cultures and skill sets, but also that the Government is making every effort to reduce immigration, but in a manner that will benefit the UK in the long run.

UK Immigration Act, 13th May 2014. Statement of Important Changes

Legislative changes in UK immigration law will have an important impact both on people looking to work in the UK and potential employers. Here are a number of key points to take note of.

1. Right-to-work checks

Right-to-work checks, as part of the recruitment process, must be carried out to make sure that only those people who are legally entitled to work in the UK are taken on by employers. Reducing the number of acceptable documents for right to work has made it easier for employers. There is therefore less chance of old, easily-forged documents being used by respective workers during the employment process.

2. Civil penalty increase

If found to be employing an illegal migrant without undertaking the necessary checks, the new law means employers are susceptible to a maximum penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, with a starting point of £15,000 for a first-time offence.

3. Director and partner liability

Directors and partners of limited-liability businesses will be held jointly liable for penalties, and action will be taken against businesses that fail to pay the civil penalties imposed for employing illegal workers.

4. Students’ right to work

Because of restrictions on their ability to work, employing international students can be problematic. The Act requires migrant students to provide evidence of their term dates as part of the right-to-work checks to prevent students breaching their visa conditions. The Government intends to consult various education providers before introducing the measure to make it simpler for employers to complete checks on their student workforce.

5. Restrictions on appeal

The Act removes the right of appeal for the majority of immigration applications, reducing 17 rights of appeal to only 4. Home Secretary Teresa May claims that the Act creates “an effective and efficient appeals system”. Although aimed towards preventing foreign criminals from remaining in the UK, one consequence is that some migrants not being able to appeal against unfair immigration decisions.

Other significant changes

Tech City UK

Expanding the exceptional talent route was announced by the Prime Minister last December and will allow Tech City UK to endorse top innovators and professionals in their field so that they can then come to the UK without the need for a sponsoring employer.

China Relations

Creating a new category for overseas government sponsored language teachers will enable teachers to raise knowledge and awareness of Chinese culture and society in the UK. With its economic presence and global influence, it is of utmost importance to nurture a strong and long lasting relationship with China.