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The Home Office has released a Statement of Changes outlining the changes being made to the UK Immigration Rules, many of which will come into effect on 6 April 2015.
The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, published on 26 February 2015, introduces a number of changes to the UK rules. These include:
Waiving the Tier 2 'cooling-off period' - the 12 month 'cooling-off period', which prevents applicants being granted a Tier 2 visa if they have been in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant within the previous 12 months, will be waived where the period of time that the applicant spent in the UK is three months or less. It is anticipated that this will help accommodate multi-national companies who need to send staff to the UK for short periods of time each year. In addition, the change will allow employers to sponsor interns and bring them back to the UK for a permanent job within 12 months.
Simplifying the existing visitor rules - the Home Office has announced that the 15 pre-existing visitor routes will be streamlined down to four in an effort to make the visitor system easier to navigate. The four new visit visa categories are: Visitor (standard), Visitor for marriage or civil partnership, Visitor for permitted paid engagements and transit Visitor.
Annual updates to the minimum salary thresholds and appropriate salary rates for individual occupations - these updates will be applicable to all Certificates of Sponsorship assigned on or after 6 April 2015. The changes to thresholds are in line with changes to the average weekly earnings of resident workers which have risen by 1.2% in the 12 months prior to November 2014.
Amending the Shortage Occupation List to include paramedics, and overhead linesworkers (energy industry) and removal of special neonatal nurses.
Employers who recruit or engage staff from overseas should be aware of the changes to the UK Immigration Rules and make any necessary changes as a result. In particular, multi-national companies or those who sponsor overseas interns, may be able to now take advantage of the waiver of the Tier 2 'cooling-off period'.