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Immigration Update 2015

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This morning we hosted our last webinar of the year ‘Immigration Update 2015’ where we looked at the changes which came into effect in 2014 and most importantly how they will impact and what to expect in 2015.

We thank everyone who tuned in for yet another packed and fantastic session, and we bring some highlights from the discussion for those unable but interested to attend.

Statement of Changes October / November 2014

Application Stage

Significant changes when submitted at a UK Consulate. Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) will scrutinise the application and the Immigration Act 2014 has given them discretion to interview candidates applying for Tier 2 and other business visas. This used to be the case pre-PBS in 2008, the practice was removed with the coming into force of the Points Based System and has now been re-introduced agagin.

To ensure a successful interview, and as a result a successful Tier 2 (General) or (Intra-Company Transfer) application, organisations and HR functions need to ensure your future employee is knowledgeable about the job they are going to do in the UK and be able to clearly articulate this to the ECO. If someone is coming to do training, HR needs to explain in the cover letter what the training will look like, what it will cover, when it will take place, etc.

Interviews can be intimidating. You have an official in front of you behind bullet proof glass asking very direct and rapid questions. We assist and go along to interviews with many clients across the world as interviews and recommend that alongside the technicalities of the role and process, you also brief your future employees as regards the practicalities of applying for a UK visa. This is what we do with our clients. Even simple things such as when to turn up (always ensure you are there at least 30 minutes before the appointment time – if not earlier – to take into consideration security etc), what to take along, what will happen during the interview, and other practicalities.

Your responsibility that the application packwhether physical or electronicgives enough information of the role and position for the ECO not to want to interview the candidate.

Ensure to included details such as what is the project, what is the visit really about (if a Business Visitor Visa), length of time and stay, where they are going to be, the manager or contact in organisation with whom the person will be working. Please do not provide generic information and contact details, but relevant ones of the person / people who are in the know and directly involved with the applicant and their future role.

Introduction of the Genuineness Test

Look carefully at who are you inviting to join your organisation and apply for a Tier 2. Look at job description on the Certificate of Sponsorship and clearly set out how the proposed Tier 2 candidate matches the role as opposed to a settled worker. At the interview stage, ECOs and UKVI officials will look at how the applicant sounds, how knowledgeable they are of the role and industry, whether they are and sound qualified enough for that role. You must ensure you have chosen the most appropriate person to bring to the UK from overseas and that this comes across on paper and in an interview if it gets to that stage.

If organisations do not get the above right, the Tier 2 applicant will be refused and the refusal of the application will cast questions on your Sponsor Licence and what you are doing as an organisation.

Compliance with immigration rules when employing Tier 4 (Students)

Ensure your learn in advance and record exact term times, what they are studying, and how many hours per week they are working for you during term time and during vacation.

You need a system which records and flags up when they are reaching the permitted number of hours they can work for you. Also when working in another part of the business; you must ensure you have a system that captures that so you do no have the situation where the same student works 20 hours for your entity and another 20 for an entity of the same sister company. Or for example, when employing students as a university, you must ensure they are not working 20 hours for one department, 10 for another and so on. The max. 20 or 10 hours permitted working applies as a total across the whole organisation or educational institution and not for various departments and schools.

To cover yourself, prepare a letter which quite clear states the number of hours X student is allowed to work and will be working for you during term and vacation dates, and get the Tier 4 (Student) to acknowledge their responsibility by signing the letter. Include the letter in the employees file within your HR systems.

NHS Levy will impact your project budgeting

The charge of £200 per applicant has been announced for any category leading to settlement (this includes Tier 2 General, but exempts Tier 2 ICT). The charge applies to the whole period of their stay. This means that for an applicant on a five year Tier 2 (General), the NHS Levy charge will be £1000. If you include a spouse and two children, this equates to £4000 to be paid upfront when you submit the application. If the application is refused, the NHS Levy will be refunded.

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