• Tier 1 and Tier 2, Other Changes in Effect
  • February 1, 2017
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A number of important changes to the Immigration Rules came into effect on November 24, 2016, including closure of the Tier 2 ICT Skills Transfer subcategory, changes to minimum salary levels in several categories, a new requirement for certain dependants to show continuous residence, and the abolishment of the 28-day grace period for in-country Further Leave to Remain applications made by visa overstayers.

    Changes in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Category
    • The ICT Skills Transfer subcategory has been closed for new applicants.
    • The ICT Short Term minimum salary has increased to GPB 30,000 (or the rate for the Codes of Practice (SOC), whichever is highest).
    • The ICT Graduate Trainee minimum salary has decreased to GPB 23,000, and now 20 graduates can be sponsored under this route.
    Changes in the Tier 2 (General) Category
    • The salary threshold has increased to GPB 25,000 from GPB 20,800 for experienced workers (and remains at GPB 20,800 for new entrants).
    • Graduates are now able to change SOC codes within the same company upon completion of a trainee program.
    • Sponsors can continue to rely on milkround recruiting (i.e. where employers tour universities to advertise job opportunities and recruit students), if the recruiting ended up to four years before the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned, but only where the migrant was offered the job within six months of that milkround taking place.
    Across Tier 2, new guidance prevents a sponsor from delaying a start date for more than four weeks. The Home Office plans to redraft this provision and the change will not affect CoS assigned before November 24, 2016.

    Tier 1 Entrepreneur Changes

    A number of minor changes have been introduced to clarify various evidential requirements and to correct minor drafting errors.

    PBS Dependants Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

    The Home Office has introduced a requirement that Points-Based System (PBS) dependants must now show continuous residence in the same way as the main applicant. This means they cannot have more than 180 days’ absence in any of the five consecutive 12-month periods preceding the date of application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

    This rule will apply to those who were granted leave as a PBS dependant under the rules in place since July 9, 2012, who will become eligible for ILR on or after July 9, 2017.

    Overstayers

    The Home Office has abolished the 28-day grace period for in-country Further Leave to Remain applications made by visa overstayers, who can now only apply on a discretionary basis within 14 days of their visa expiring if they can show a good reason for their overstays beyond their or their legal representatives’ control.

    Other Changes and Clarifications

    Other areas of change include the following:
    • Increased times to reply to requests under the evidential flexibility principle (under which the Home Office may request further documentation in support of an application);
    • Stricter rules for adjudicating applications when documents are missing from a sequence of documents in an application; and
    • Changes to the way the National Health System debt affects immigration applications.
    There were also some clarifications regarding grounds under which applications can be refused for unsuitability, when an application is deemed to have been made, the validity of applications, and the evidence required to demonstrate that the English language requirement is met.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Fragomen is discussing the retrospective application of the PBS dependants continuous residence rule with the Home Office and will issue updates when they become available.