Saturday, 18 June 2011

Next set of changes to student visa rules is announced

As a follow up to the statement to Parliament made by the Home Secretary on 22 March 2011 concerning the reformation of Tier 4, part of which came into force on 21 April 2011.

The next set of changes to the Immigration Rules - which will come into force on 4 July 2011 - has been laid in Parliament on Monday 13 June 2011.

Here is the excerpt from the statement.

“From 4 July we will:

 restrict work entitlements to migrants studying at higher educational institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges only;

 restrict the sponsorship of dependants to those studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting at least 12 months, and government-sponsored students on courses lasting at least 6 months;

 require education providers to vouch that a new course represents genuine academic progression;

 ensure that maintenance funds are genuinely available to the applicant, by introducing a declaration on the visa application form;

 commit to publish a list of financial institutions that we consider, on the basis of experience, do not verify financial statements to our satisfaction in more than 50 per cent of a sample of cases;

 introduce a streamlined application process for low-risk nationals applying to attend courses with Highly Trusted Sponsors;

 extend the list of courses for which students must receive ATAS clearance;

 restrict the ability to deliver accountancy courses accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to those sponsors accorded platinum or gold status by ACCA; and

 Clarify the position of overseas universities with campuses in the UK.

These changes were announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green in a written ministerial statement this morning. You can download this statement, and the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1148) from the right side of this page.

A revised version of our policy guidance document for Tier 4 migrants, and a statement of intent summarising the new student visa policy, can also be downloaded from the right side of this page. You can find our revised guidance for Tier 4 sponsors in the Sponsor guidance section.

We have published an impact assessment for these changes in our Policy and law section.

We are also announcing today that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) will extend their activities to cover privately funded providers, in line with our commitment that all privately funded sponsors would be inspected or reviewed by one of the publicly recognised bodies by the end of 2012.

There are also a small number of changes being made to bring into effect:

 A new provision for other family members of refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection;

 A minor correction to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) provisions and clarify a requirement of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and Tier 1 (Investor) Rules; and

 A small number of minor corrections and technical changes to the Rules relating to English language requirements for partners and spouses.”

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Friday, 10 June 2011

Migrants to lose right to stay indefinitely

In the new proposals announced today by the government, migrants coming to the UK on temporary visa could lose the right to stay indefinitely.

Immigration minister Damian Green said today at the launching of a public consultation on reforms to the work routes leading to settlement that “settlement has become almost automatic for those who choose to stay, this needs to change”.

The minister went further to say that the government has “set out to re-classify visas as either ‘temporary’ or ‘permanent’ and introduce stricter criteria for those who want to stay. In government-speak, this could be interpreted to mean (like in Biblical terms) it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for migrants with ‘permanent’ visas to be able to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

He also went further to state that “We want the brightest and best workers to come to the UK, make a strong contribution to our economy while they are here, and then return home”.

He also gave some statistical data to back up his reforms as follows:
“Under the current system, many workers are allowed to apply to stay here permanently. In 2010, 84,000 people who entered the UK for employment were granted settlement. This compares to less than 10,000 who qualified for employment related settlement in 1997.

The government has already implemented new settlement requirements for skilled workers entering under Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, which require applicants to demonstrate English-language proficiency, continue to meet the salary requirements and to pass a new criminality test.

Key proposals under consideration in the 12 week consultation are as follows:
• Re-branding Tier 2 (the skilled worker route) as temporary, ending the assumption that settlement will be available for those who enter on this route;
• Allowing certain categories of Tier 2 migrant, for example those earning over £150,000 or occupations of a specific economic or social value to the UK, to retain an automatic route to settlement;
• Creating a new category into which, after three years in the UK, the most exceptional Tier 2 migrants may switch and go on to apply for settlement;
• Allowing Tier 2 migrants who do not switch into a settlement route to stay for a maximum of five years with the expectation that they and any dependants will leave at the end of that time;
• Introducing an English language requirement for adult dependants of Tier 2 migrants applying to switch into a route to settlement;
• Restricting the maximum period of leave for Tier 5 Temporary Workers to 12 months; and
• Closing or reforming routes for overseas domestic workers”.
He also added that 'A small number of exceptional migrants will be able to stay permanently but for the majority, coming here to work will not lead automatically to settlement in the UK.'

The Government has committed to reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to bring immigration levels under control. The settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker reforms will work alongside the annual limit, the new student visa reforms and changes to the family route which will be consulted on later this year”.

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