BULLETIN: Immigration update Oct 2013

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Starting on 1 October, the Immigration Rules will incorporate a series of changes announced on 6 September.

The changes include:

  • Expansion of Tier 1 (Exceptional Migrant);
  • More emphasis on "genuineness" for Tier 1, 2, 4 and 5 applications;
  • Changes to Tier 2 policy;
  • Change to allow "dependants" to make in-country applications;
  • Clarification on policy regarding "permitted activities" that can be undertaken as a visitor;
  • Changes to the language ability to support Settlement applications;
  • Adding Hong Kong to the list of nations that qualify under Tier 5, Youth Mobility Scheme;
  • Specific changes in relation to visas for participants for the 2014 Commonwealth Games; and
  • Amendments and corrections to clarify policy and/or address minor errors in previous drafts.

Of the changes, the two that will have most impact are the introduction of a "genuineness" test for Tier 1, 2, 4 and 5 applications and the English Language changes for Settlement applications.

In December 2012, the Government made a change to the Rules regarding Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications, by introducing a "genuineness" element to the criteria as a response to their perceived belief that some applications were being made with false intentions.  This element is being expanded in this category to match the changes being introduced to the other application categories.  In essence, the changes to the Rules allow the Secretary of State (or Entry Clearance Officer or Immigration Officer) to refuse an application if they do not believe the applicant "genuinely" intends to undertake and is capable of undertaking the role for which the application has been made.  The Rules allow for additional documents or evidence to be requested before making a decision, but this is not compulsory.  This moves the Points Based System further away from the original stated claim, that all criteria for all applications would be easily understood, and back towards the pre-PBS routes.

The change to the criteria for Settlement applications concerns an increase in the required level of English language ability.  Previously, passing the Knowledge of Life in the UK ("KOL") test was deemed sufficient evidence of English.  The changes (from 28 October) require applicants to pass a further English language test unless exceptions apply.  The exceptions include being a national of an English speaking country (e.g. USA, Australia), having a degree taught in an English speaking country or having a degree taught in English, or having provided English language evidence in support of an earlier immigration application.  There is no concession with regard to applicants that have sat and passed the KOL test before 28 October, but do not file their settlement application until after that date.

Overall, the changes look to make further restrictions and increase requirements across most applications and allow the Government to refuse applications more easily.  This means that proper preparation and planning of applications is all the more important.