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28 October 2020
Skilled worker route
Intra-company transfer routes
New extension route for Turkish workers and businesspersons
New immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) and their family members
Expedited sponsor licence processing
On 22 October 2020 the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 813 was published. This key document outlines the features of the government's points-based immigration system and simplifies the language and structure of some areas of the Immigration Rules. The new system will apply to EEA and Swiss nationals, aside from Irish nationals (EEA nationals). This article highlights some of the changes that are likely to be of most interest to employers.
HC 813 is 514 pages long but only some of it aims to create new criteria for entry and stay in the United Kingdom.
It will be possible to make applications under the new Immigration Rules from 9:00am on 1 December 2020 in most cases, so guidance on how to do this will likely be published shortly.
EEA nationals will be unable to apply in-country under the Immigration Rules until 11:00pm on 31 December 2020, unless they are applying under the EU Settlement Scheme as an S2 healthcare visitor or a service provider from Switzerland. Those who apply for entry clearance (other than under the same categories) will have this granted from 1 January 2021 at the earliest.
The general changes include the following:
The skilled worker category will replace Tier 2 (General) and is for individuals coming to the United Kingdom to work in a skilled job with a licensed sponsor (for further details please see "Home Office provides consolidated details of new immigration system").
The statement also confirms that no cooling-off periods will apply to the route and that there will be no six-year total length of stay.
Controversially, no changes have been made to the shortage occupations that will be initially accepted under the skilled worker route, other than the removal of quantity surveyors, which was previously included in error. This means that skilled chefs will still be recognised as a shortage occupation initially, despite the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommending their removal. Moreover, all of the other occupations recommended for inclusion will not be reflected when the route launches (for further details please see "MAC publishes report recommending expanded shortage occupation lists").
The reason given by the Home Office for taking this approach is that it wishes to assess how the labour market develops following the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to the introduction of the new system. However, it seems more likely that there has simply been insufficient time to properly consider and implement the recommendations in the MAC's report. There will likely be calls for the shortage occupation list to be revised swiftly to limit the negative impact that delay may have on resourcing, particularly in the health and social care sector.
The main intra-company transfer provisions for established workers being transferred from their employer abroad to work at a related business in the United Kingdom, and for graduate trainees, are both preserved.
Substantive changes include the following:
The intra-company transfer routes will be subject to a review by the MAC in 2021, with the MAC's report due by the end of October 2021. Therefore, further reform of these routes is expected at the end of 2021 or early in 2022.(1)
The Immigration Rules for visitors will be simplified. The changes to the route are modest and it remains to be seen whether the route will be further reformed in the medium term to better facilitate business travel following the end of the transition period.
Changes include the following:
This route will become available from 11:00pm on 31 December 2020 under a new Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay. The appendix aims to enable Turkish workers, businesspersons and their existing family members to proceed to settlement on broadly the same criteria as at present, with the exception that domestic criminality thresholds will apply for considering conduct taking place after the end of the transition period.
The new route will launch from 31 January 2021. New fee regulations also published on 22 October 2020 confirm that the application fee for each main applicant and dependant will be £180 for a 30-month visa and £250 for a five-year visa.
Categories that have been simplified but are not intended to contain changes to immigration policy include:
In a separate announcement, the Home Office has confirmed that it will be introducing a new £500 fee from 12 November 2020 for the priority processing of sponsor licence applications.
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne, Naomi Hanrahan-Soar, Joanna Hunt or Stephen O'Flaherty at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.
(1) For further information please see "Migration Advisory Committee commissioned to report on Intra-Company Transfers".
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