Tag Archives: Immigration news

5 major UK Immigration news for 2016

In 2016, the UK will is rolling out important major change in the immigration system that will affect workers, businesses, family life and study for migrants.

Here we have compiled a useful guide of our 5 major picks from the new law that will be put in place as well as what to look out for in immigration news being discussed by government in 2016

1. The Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill has reached the committee stage in the House of Lords and will likely become law this year. It includes a range of policy changes, particularly targeting illegal workers and businesses.

Those found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail with wages being seized as ‘proceeds of crime’ and employers could face a maximum criminal penalty which has changed from 2 to 5 years. Additionally, with new laws allowing banks, police, DVLA and landlords to be given new powers to check immigration status, families could easily find various aspects of their daily life surveilled.

Employers under Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsors employing recent graduates and Non-EEA migrants will have to follow a new immigration skills charge (visa levy) to businesses who preferentially employ skilled migrants from abroad which is currently being assessed by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). The visa levy on businesses was created to further enforce the Labour Resident Market Test and the extent of the charge is not currently known.

Find out more about what the Immigration Bill is and how it will affect you with our guides.

2. Residence in the UK

Migrants with UK work visas will have to earn at least £35,000 or more to be able to apply to stay in the UK as permanent resident (apply for indefinite leave to remain) after April 6, 2016.

Read more about the changes to permanent residency for Tier 2 general holders.

3. Right to Rent

From the 1st of February 2016, the ‘right to rent’ scheme is being rolled out UK wide. Private landlords will be compelled by law to check the immigration status of all their tenants.

Landlords will need to take copies of all adult passports or residence permits. Failure to do so could result in them being fined up to £3000 per tenant, for each tenant who has no right to rent in the UK, including undocumented migrants.

Research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has found that the scheme can be discriminatory towards ethnic minorities, including Asians.

Read how the Right to Rent law may affect you.

4. An Online Visa Application System

The government will invest more than £250 million to overhaul the passport and immigration system. This investment was made to enable migrants to apply and pay for their passport and visa applications entirely online.

This online visa system is aimed to improve information, convenience and flexibility. Though it is not currently known when it will be implemented, it may be news worth looking out for.

You can read more about what was discussed in immigration in the spending review on the Gov.UK website.

5. Increased Fees

The UK government are introducing and looking into a few new fee changes this coming year:

The government recently announced that fees for settlement, residence and nationality will increase by 25% in 2016–17 and visit, study and work visa fees will increase by around 2%. There will also be targeted increases to premium services, such as the priority visa service. The specific fee changes for 2016–17 will apply after further legislation is laid in Parliament by April this year.

You can read more on the new fees on the Gov.UK website.

The government have also indicated that they are looking to extend charges for Non-EU overseas visitors and migrants to access various departments of the NHS. They are looking to extend beyond the health surcharge to Accidents and Emergency (A&E), ambulance care as well as some general practitioner (GP) services such as blood tests, lung function tests, prescriptions, dental treatment and physiotherapy.

They seek relevant views on these proposals to further extend these charges. It closes on Sunday 6 March 2016 and can be accessed on the Gov.UK website.

Which will be first to implement a Start-up visa: the US or the EU?

With so many governments launching start-up visa schemes this year, it makes us wonder whether the US or the EU will be first to start a comprehensive multi-state (in the EU case, multi-country) level.

Start-up Visas programs spreading like mushrooms
So far in 2015 Denmark, France and the Netherlands have already launched national programs to attract foreign entrepreneurs to start companies. Their visa schemes have a few things in common, not the least of which is to offer fast-track and specific processes to foreign entrepreneurs – with special guidance from local incubators to navigate the system. Denmark and France have put quotas in place. The Netherlands (wisely) has not.

European Countries Startup Visa Policies Map

In total, 7 countries in Europe have created start-up visa schemes, two that are outside of the Schengen area (Ireland & the UK).

In the US, strong business and tech lobbies have been pushing for an immigration reform that would introduce a US start-up visa. President Obama announced that the US will make it easier and faster for entrepreneurs to come to the US and start businesses but nothing has yet happened.

Meanwhile, a national non-profit was launched to help implement a fix to the US start-up visa process in places beyond Massachusetts and Colorado (where the program has already been launched). The Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program enables talented graduates to be sponsored by a US university and gain relevant part-time work experience while allowing them to work on their start-up.

Local & national schemes
All of these local initiatives have emerged due to the deadlock around immigration reforms presented at the US federal or EU level. As well as out of frustration from bureaucratic visa rules leaving talented migrants with no options other than leaving the country they are living in. These initiatives may be limited in their scope, however, they are growing in numbers and popularity. This is leading to other countries, like Israel and Germany, considering the implementation of similar programs.

Both Brussels and Washington are discussing ways to navigate and understand how start-up visa policies can benefit their respective economies and fit their long term objectives. Adeo Ressi, CEO of the Founder Institute, spoke with Forbes about White House representatives visiting Palo Alto in January and the strong desire from President Barack Obama to sign an executive order this year. Migreat has spoken at meetings in Brussels with several representative of the EU commission that is exploring ways to introduce a start-up visa directive that would fit in the 2020 EU agenda.

These programs could well provide the spark for the US and/or the EU to launch programs that attract talent, create jobs and foster innovation on a larger scale. The question that remains is whether the EU or the US will be first get started?

With the 2016 presidential election already ramping up in the US and the sensitivity around immigration in Europe, it is our bet that the US will be first; which means that for Europe to gain an advantage, the EU will need to create a better deal for foreign entrepreneurs than the US.

Download Migreat’s #StartupVisa report to learn more about the 13 countries that offer visa schemes for entrepreneurs worldwide.

Migreat to advise the EU commission on Entrepreneurial migration policies

Migreat has been appointed by the European Commission to advise as an expert on how to attract migrant entrepreneurs to Europe.

Following a call made out last January by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, Migreat received an invitation to take part in a temporary expert group set up to discuss economic migration to Europe and how to attract highly skilled talents.

The Expert group will discuss economic migration issues with the view to contribute to the elaboration of a new European policy on legal migration and a review of the Blue Card Directive.

There is a real need for the EU blue card to perform its full potential of becoming the equivalent of the US green card. The EU is suffering from specific skills shortages and needs to become a more open and attractive destination for talented workers who would consider migrating elsewhere.

The expert group meets for the first time in Brussels this March 2015 to discuss the opportunities and limitations of the EU Blue card in attracting the best and brightest talents.

Migreat Entrepreneur Visa Global Map
Migreat Entrepreneur Visa Global Map 2014

As a practitioner and expert on the migration of entrepreneurs, Migreat was chosen to lead on the questions that cover visa schemes for graduate students, entrepreneurs and start-up visas.

Migreat will be able to share fresh insights thanks to data gathered with its online visa wizard app helping thousands of economic migrants navigate the European visa system daily.

Migreat receives daily request from foreign entrepreneurs and highly skilled migrants to Europe. It is our mission to make sure these international talents are assisted by top immigration lawyers whereby they don’t get turned away by the bureaucracy of the visa system.” says Tara, Business Development Manager.

Migreat reported evidence to the UK Government on bureaucratic issues with entrepreneurial migrant visa applications processing in a report on the UK Entrepreneur visa last year.

Migreat which frequently advises the UK Government on highly skilled migration, is delighted to contribute to the EU Commission Expert group on migration.

It comes at the same time as Migreat launches its online community platforms for migrants living in capitals of Europe (LondonParis, Milan, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Stuttgart, Madrid).

Student Union Gets Sponsorship Licence

This week, Suarts, The University of the arts London Students’ Union received official approval for their application to sponsor non-British/non-EU employees. Thanks to the sponsorship licence, Suarts can now provide work visas to people that need one to stay work in the UK legally. It creates a successful example for other UK Student Unions interested in recruiting international students to replicate.

I asked Mostafa Rajaai, Culture and Diversity Officer for Suarts to tell us a little more on how and why his Student Union applied to the sponsorship licence.

Mostafa Rajaii Campaigning

“Currently, only 5 Students’ Unions in the UK have been granted a sponsorship licence, says Mostafa. Most Student Union don’t know about the process to get a sponsorship licence and think it is complicated when it is not.”

The University of the arts London Students’ Union applied to the sponsorship licence in December 2014, and three weeks later got it approved with an A rating. It took one senior staff of the Students’ Union to do the paperwork, in less than a week.

Surprisingly, what’s more complicated is not the process but getting approval from the senior staff to apply. “They are afraid of the paperwork. If the Union has a democratic mandate then it is possible for any officer to bring up the motion and convince the senior staff of the clear benefits a sponsorship licence brings.”

Mostafa created a motion that he posted and shared on Facebook. It summarises the large benefits of getting a sponsorship licence: representativity and the ability to advertise SU jobs to a bigger pool of students.

Stuart's Campaigning for Students

Mostafa is currently in contact with other Students’ Union to convince more to follow Suarts’ steps.

“40% of our Student Body is made of international students, and yet we only have two staff people that are non-EU. That is a problem of representation caused by tough immigration rules that any Students Union need to take seriously. And we chose to fight it back using the current framework: getting a sponsorship licence.”

The current situation of International students’ rights to work after graduation is tough and complex. Under the new immigration rules set up by the Tories, International Students in the UK can only stay work in the country if they find an employer willing to sponsor their visa, for a job that pays at least £22K.

Before that, International Students were allowed to stay work for two years after graduation without the need for a visa. It would allow enough time for employers to judge if the student they recruited was worth sponsoring.

NUS’s International Student Officer, Shreya Paudel, has been campaigning for the return of a 12-months Post-Study Work visa.

“What Mostafa Rajaai has done at SU Arts is great. This is basically doing what we can within the current legal arrangements. Still, we need to work on both: the return of the Post-Study Work mechanism; and also, getting hold of the sponsorship licences in our students’ unions.”

International Student Union for the PSW
Shreya Paudel, in the middle, NUS International Students’ Officer

The sponsorship licence costs £536pds (running for four years) and requires two full time staff to take care of yearly paperwork updates. Nothing that can scare away serious students Union that consistently have to deal with sometimes heavy university administration processes.

The jobs for which the Student Union can employ have to pay at least £22K minimum a year.

Also, contrary to common beliefs, international students recruited by the Student Union are not subjected to the Resident Labour Market test. That means that International students like any British or EU students can be recruited right away if the skills and profile matches the job offer.

Suarts just got their sponsorship this January 2015. It is yet to know what will be the impact on their future recruitment campaigns and how many international students will apply to them.

“We don’t have yet international candidates aligned to recruit, but it is likely that many will start applying to open positions.

The sponsorship licence gives us a bigger pool to advertise jobs to, and offers us to be more representative of our student body. Getting the sponsorship licence was the best thing that we could do to show support and taking a stance for International students”

The NUS has launched a national campaign to support the return of the PSW and help more student Union get the sponsorship licence.

Visit migreat.com to ask your questions regarding sponsorship licence and UK Visas.

Obama Provides Temporary Work Permits to Five Million Undocumented US Immigrants

Yesterday, Obama announced his plan for a US immigration reform in hope to move away from US Congress gridlock on the topic.

obama immigration reform

Obama announces that it will grant temporary work permits (3 years) to undocumented migrants currently living and that have been living for the last five years in the US so “they can get out of the shadows”. The measure yet to be implemented next year should lead to the regularisation of status of up to five million immigrants in the US. It does not apply to criminals, to recent immigrants or future immigrants. It is yet to be known if that can lead to the switch to a longer term visa also known as green card.

Obama also announced that it will “make it faster and easier” for highly skilled and entrepreneurs to stay and start businesses the US. Details are yet to be confirmed and it is not yet possible to say if it will be similar to startup and entrepreneur visas existing in other countries worldwide. If it were to be, the US might win the heart of many migrant entrepreneurs facing difficulties in Europe with immigration rules. Will it foster a brain-drain from Europe and from European nationals? The details and implementation has yet to prove the case 🙂

Follow @Migreat on Twitter to read latest news and data on immigration worldwide.