Whilst Easter is symbolic of new life it has also become synonymous with the introduction of changes to the Immigration Rules.
Despite changes to Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur and Tier 2 visas being widely anticipated following the Migrant Advisory Committee’s (MAC’s) report issued in January this year, no changes were in fact made in relation to these visas as the Home Office did not have time to consider the MAC’s recommendations.
The majority of the changes that were however announced in Parliament in March 2016 are now due to come into effect on or after 6 April 2016. The key changes are summarised below:
NHS debt and litigation costs
- NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011 introduced legislation which meant that migrants subject to immigration control could be refused entry clearance and leave to enter or remain in the UK if they had a debt of £1000 or more owed to the NHS and this remained the position until the debt had been cleared. This threshold however is now being reduced to £500 which means that anyone with NHS debts or anyone who has failed to pay NHS litigation costs awarded to the Home Office of £500 or more could be refused a visa.
- Nationals of Kuwait will now be able to apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver.
- Certain entertainers are allowed to travel to the UK on a visitor visa to perform at listed festivals and receive payment. The Permit Free Festival list for 2016/17 is to be updated.
- To reduce the maintenance requirements for students applying for leave to remain as a student union sabbatical officer, or a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a foundation programme.
- To allow Tier 4 (General) students at independent schools to extend their leave from within the UK.
- Previously any time spent as a student under the age of 18 was not taken in to consideration when calculating the maximum length of time a student may spend in this visa category. However, this time will no longer be excluded, which means that all time granted for study in the UK under Tier 4 (General) category will be taken into account when calculating the maximum time spent. Therefore it is now imperative that students already in the UK and prospective students carefully plan what courses they wish to do as their time in the UK may be restricted even more than before.
Overseas domestic workers
- We welcome the fact that overseas domestic workers are now going be allowed to take alternative employment as a domestic worker during the 6 month period for which they are admitted.
- Where an overseas domestic worker is a victim of slavery or human trafficking, their period of leave may be increased from 6 months to 2 years.
The maintenance requirements under all the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) routes are being amended to clarify that where a sponsor certifies maintenance, the sponsor also has to confirm that the applicant will not claim public funds during their period of leave.
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