A number of changes were recently made to the Immigration Rules. Unless otherwise stated, the changes mentioned below are effective from 19 November 2015.

Tier 2 of the Points Based System - Shortage Occupation List

The statement of changes in Immigration Rules has made several additions to the Shortage Occupation List as follows:

  • Four jobs in the digital technology sector have been added - IT Product Manager, Data Scientist, Senior Developer and Cyber Security Specialist roles providing the applicant will work for a ‘qualifying company’ and other specific requirements are met in respect of experience and leadership;
  • Nurses are added to the Shortage Occupation List pending a detailed review of evidence by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

Tier 2 (General) and (Sportsperson) - Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Further clarification of the requirements which apply to Tier 2 ILR applications has been provided.

  • The minimum salary threshold for applications submitted on or after 06 April 2016 is £35,000 per annum (rising each year in line with inflation);
  • The sponsor must certify in writing that it ‘still requires the applicant for the employment for the foreseeable future’ and confirm the gross annual salary paid by the sponsor and that ‘this salary will be paid for the foreseeable future’.

Tier 2 Changes to grants of leave at entry clearance stage

A change has been made to enable grants of leave at entry clearance stage to be post-dated in line with the applicant’s intended date of travel. This change should give more flexibility to applicants and is designed to make it easier for them to collect their Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) within the required timescale.

Entry clearance will be granted with effect from:

  • 14 days before the start date of the applicant’s employment in the UK as recorded by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) checking service; or
  • 7 days before the intended date of travel recorded by the applicant providing this is not more than 14 days before the start date as recorded by the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) checking service; or
  • The date entry clearance is granted

whichever is the latest.

Tier 2 & 5 of the Points Based System - technical changes

The Statement of Changes makes a number of technical changes across the Immigration Rules including the following:

  • Due to continuing requests for clarification, the Statement confirms that Tier 2 & 5 migrants may not be absent from work without pay for four weeks or more in total according to their normal working pattern in any calendar year as opposed to the previous wording of ‘30 days or more’. This means that if a sponsored employee is absent without pay for more than 27 days (e.g. on unpaid leave) in any calendar year for reasons other than maternity/paternity leave, adoption/shared parental leave or long term sick leave, UKVI will consider that sponsorship of their employment has ceased and the employer must report this via the Sponsor Management System.

PBS Dependants

A change has been made to the maintenance requirement for family members of PBS migrants who are extending their stay in the same category. If the dependant is applying after the main applicant, they are not required to provide evidence of maintenance (funds) if the main applicant was exempt from the maintenance requirement. Previously this exemption applied only to dependants who applied at the same time as the main applicant.

Changes to Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

The criteria for endorsing applicants in the digital technology sector which is applied by Tech City UK has been revised to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the digital technology sector. Additional detail can be found at here.

About the author

Tracie Udall Senior Associate

Tracie advises on all aspects of the Points Based System, particularly in relation to Tier 2 applications. She also advises individuals on personal immigration issues in relation to initial applications for leave to enter and both visa and leave to remain extension applications.