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Upcoming immigration changes: what to look out for from October 2019

Laura Devine Immigration look at some of the most notable immigration changes which are expected to become effective from 1 and 6 October 2019.

Shortage occupation list

Following the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations earlier this year, the Home Office has announced an expansion to the shortage occupation list (SOL) to cover an array of occupations not previously benefitting from the advantages of the (SOL), including not having to complete the 28-day resident labour market test, priority under the Tier 2 cap and lower salary thresholds for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

In a major win for the hospitality industry, establishments offering a take-away service (which the Home Office had interpreted to include those benefitting from industry-standard apps such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats), can now hire chefs from outside of the EU under Tier 2. This change marks years of lobbying from restaurant owners forced to choose between reaching a wider clientele and hiring speciality chefs with the necessary skills and experience to do the job.

Other notable additions to the SOL include psychologists, veterinarians, web designers and architects.

Other changes to Tier 2

Some of the other notable changes to Tier 2 include:

  • PhD level occupations will be exempt from the (20,700) annual limit on visas for skilled non-EU workers from 6 October 2019. Additionally, absences from the UK of migrants in PhD level occupations that are directly related to their Tier 2 employment will not be counted as absences in ILR applications.
  • Changes have been made so that those who are absent from work due to sickness, statutory parental leave, assisting in a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis or engaging in legal strike action may still apply for indefinite leave to remain even if such absences cause their salary to fall below the required threshold (similar rules already exist for those on maternity, paternity, share parental and adoption leave).
  • Allowing doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives to rely on English language testing accepted by their professional regulatory body, rather than the usual Home Office approved list.
  • Correcting the salary levels for a small number of Tier 2 occupation codes, in line with the latest available salary data.
  • Adding the ‘Teaching Vacancies’ service on gov.uk as an acceptable advertising medium to meet the resident labour market test for teaching roles in England.

Innovator and Start-up routes

Students in the UK on the doctorate extension scheme would be exempt from the condition under the Start-up route to not have previously established a UK business.

Changes are also being made to both the Innovator and Start-up routes on how an organisation can become an endorsing body to allow for the endorsing body’s request to be refused on the grounds of “criminality or other actions or behaviour which are non-conducive to the public good” or due to conflicts of interest.

Investors

Migrants with Tier 1 (Investor) leave granted prior to 29 March 2019 and relying on government bonds would be required to move their qualifying investments out of UK government bonds before 6 April 2023 if they wish to extend their Tier 1 (Investor) leave and before 6 April 2025 for those wishing to apply for ILR. Those continuing to rely on government bonds after those dates will be refused.

Tier 1 (Investors) who initially entered the route under the Rule in place before 6 November 2014 must increase their UK investment from £1 million to at least £2 million before 6 April 2020 in order to apply to extend and by 6 April 2022 to apply for ILR. For applications submitted from that date, only time spent with the investment at the £2 million level will count towards ILR, meaning that many will need to start the 5-year qualifying period of residence again.

Students

In line with previous MAC recommendations, Tier 4 (General) migrants will be able to start working for Tier 2 sponsors within 3 months of the completion of their degree.

Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme

Some of the amendments to the EUSS include incorporating the previously published deadlines for making an application under the scheme in deal and no-deal scenarios, as well as bringing in powers to curtail pre-settled and settled status in the future, where for example this leave has been obtained by deception. Additionally, the Home Office has been given new powers to refuse applications in certain, limited, circumstances, including instances where the EEA/Swiss national or their family members has previously been refused entry to the UK under the EEA Regulations.

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