· 2 min read · Features

Changes to UK immigration rules announced

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Organisations based in the UK who currently employ workers from outside the European Union, or may employ migrant worker in the future, need to be aware of important changes to the UK's Immigration Rules, which come into force on 13 December 2012.

While the changes are described as "not substantive" by the UK Border Agency, they nevertheless make important tweaks to the rules under which migrant workers are brought to the UK and are employed by UK organisations.

The main changes are:

  • Amendments to the rules regarding entrepreneurs and investors in Tier 1 of the Points-Based System, relating to the kinds of funds which need to be shown to allow access to the UK.
  • Minor changes to Tier 2 of the points based system, with the most relevant specific change being an increase from five years to nine years in the period of time an individual who has come to the UK as part of Intra-Company Transfer arrangement and earns over £150,000 per year can stay in the UK
  • An extension to the interim limit, changes to the leave conditions for doctors/dentists in training, clarification of the post-graduate legal courses that are exempt from the time limit and other minor changes to Tier 4 of the points based system.
  • A further clarification of the rules for those on government authorised exchanges within Tier 5.

In addition, there are changes to the rules affecting criminality, with the following provisions being introduced:

  • The establishment of a more robust, clear and transparent criminality framework against which immigration applications will be assessed. This will be generally tougher than the current approach and it will be made clearer when refusal will be mandatory under the rules.
  • Changes to the periods before which a deportation order will normally be revoked.
  • Creation of a limited leave 'route' for ex-Armed Forces, victims of domestic violence and bereaved spouses who fail to qualify for indefinite leave to remain or citizenship because of a relatively minor conviction.
  • The introduction of a re-entry ban of five years for any offender who leaves the UK as a requirement of a conditional caution.
  • Adding a discretionary power to curtail leave where a person commits an offence within the first six months of entering the UK.

Other detail changes are being made to the rules relating to settlement in the UK and the requirements that become applicable where a migrant seeks to bring family members with them to the UK.

The amendments being made to the Immigration Rules are detailed changes. They do not fundamentally change the requirements where a business is seeking to employ a non-EU worker.

However the Immigration Rules in themselves are extremely complex and therefore organisations seeking to employ an individual from outside the UK should engage specialist advice in the event that the amended rules may have an impact upon them.

Peter Bryne, HR Legal Service. www.hrlegalservice.co.uk