Tag Archives: immigration rules

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.

Immigration Bill 2015: Who will be affected

The Immigration bill has passed it’s second reading in the House of Commons and is now being sent to a Public Bill Committee. It received 323 votes to 274 with considerable opposition from Labour, Lib Dem and SNP MPs.

Speaking of the large number of immigration changes that have been made since Theresa May has become Home Secretary they argued that it will not reduce illegal immigration and will damage social cohesion.

Who it will affect and why

  • Workers

Those who are found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail. The police would be able to seize wages as ‘proceeds of crime’.

Public sector jobs will require fluent English language or else will be barred by public authorities.

  • Businesses

The jail sentence for employers found guilty will be raised from 2 years to 5 years in addition to fines in place.

In addition, the UK will introduce an immigration skills charge for employers who preferentially employ skilled migrants from abroad. This visa levy on businesses was created to further enforce the British Labour Resident Market Test. This test ensures that any migrant hired in the UK is not taking the job of a UK resident by imposing the business to advertise the job position for 28 days in the UK on listed local websites before being able to offer the job to a non-EU migrant.

  • Families

All immigration appeals and judicial reviews are subject to deport first, appeal later measures with the right to private and family life appeals included. This means migrants can face removal from the UK despite an outstanding appeal to their case. This process is likely to be practically difficult and will separate families.

With banks, police, DVLA and landlords given the task and responsibility to check immigration status, families could easily find various aspects of their life surveilled. With many legally staying in the UK but unable to prove a ‘right to rent’, families also risk being mistakenly evicted.

  • Students

May in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference argued ‘Students, yes; over-stayers, no. universities must make this happen.’

Those students found working when a person ‘has no leave’ or when work or a specific type of work is not allowed will be liable to imprisonment and/or a fine as well as in many cases, immigration sanctions.

Is the new tightening on study immigration rules really putting Britain First?

On the 29th of July, David Cameron and Theresa May have announced changes to the sponsorship licenses rules for universities and colleges seeking to sponsor international students.To make a long story short, education institutions will lose their licenses if more than 10% of their prospective students get refused the visa.

However the story is not that simple and short. To start with, the government’s efforts on closing down bogus universities that abuse the system and applicants is a good step forward. However, this immigration rule amendment will put genuine and respectable universities at risk of losing their license for reasons beyond their control. Universities’ duty is to assess prospective students qualifications and make sure their student applications are genuine. They have no control over the visa application process and visa refusals are often based on simple and minor mistakes in the visa application provided by the prospective student. Simple mistakes that when corrected leads to a visa – but by then the harm has already been done to the university.

Taking a step backward in the discussion, the new tightening on immigration comes under the message of Britain First. But what is Britain? Doesn’t the education sector play a key role in making today’s Britain? According to study by Universities UK, the impact of the higher education sector on the UK economy has been increasing substantially. In 2011-2012, universities generated £73 billion in output and contributed over £36.4 billion to the economy making up 2.8% of GDP in 2011. The higher education’s contribution to UK’s GDP is higher than other sectors like “basic pharmaceuticals, air transport, advertising and market research, legal services and computer manufacturing.”

Group Of Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation

This said, and more specifically, how are non-EU students contributing to the economy?

20% of the total universities output is generated from the enrolment of non-EU students! Yes, that makes £13.9 billion of the total £73 billion. Moreover, non-EU students spend £3.8 billion on fees and accommodation and £3.4 billion on goods and services bought off-campus. The study also highlights the knock-on effects in terms of job-creation and campus life diversity. Non-EU students are behind 18% of full-time jobs generated by the higher education sector in 2011-2012. (More details in infographic below).

“…a major contributing factor to higher education’s impact is the recruitment of non-EU students”

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden
President, Universities UK

 Furthermore, the announcement of the new tightening of immigration rules synchronises with the latest International Monetary Fund(IMF) report warning on the “overvalued” pound which puts the country in an unstable economic state. According the the IMF, UK should be, loosening its visa rules for international students, instead of making them more strict. Also, In order to raise productivity and boost economic growth and competitiveness, the UK should open its doors and ease up the migration process for skilled migrants.


As the demand for higher education is continuously, UK universities cannot afford to lose their attractiveness to international students because of the bureaucracy of the visa system. According to the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, in 2011, the UK took the second place as the most popular destination for international higher education seekers. However, would the further tightening on student visa and sponsorship rules make the UK a less attractive destination? According to universities, there is a real concern over losing international students on the basis of visas complexities.

In his reply to The PIE News, Dominic Scott, CEO of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has called the new rules as “draconian” and said that the “refusal rates are often out of the control on an institution as students can have visas refused either on subjective ‘credibility’ grounds or just for a missing or incorrect piece of paperwork”. Many of the genuine prospective students with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from highly respectable UK universities have been refused a visa because of a missing document that has nothing to show on the genuineness of the applicant. Universities cannot be held responsible for administrative errors at the home countries visa applications centres. Hence, in light of the changes in immigration rules, universities have not only to be careful in their assessment of serious students, but also to be sure that the latter are submitting error-free visa applications.

At Migreat, we assist everyone with visa and immigration issue. You can explore your visa options, ask our community a question, and connect to an immigration expert!

Don’t let the tightening of immigration and visa rules stop you from achieving your goals as a student or university! Let the Migreat team handle your visa issues!

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Top 5 UK Immigration Good News for 2014

Theresa May, Home Secretary, smiling and happy of her work for immigration this year?
Theresa May, Home Secretary, smiling and happy of her work for immigration this year?

Immigration news are too often negative ones. Let’s instead cheer up with a fresh and positive look at what is on the 2014 UK immigration agenda that can make us hope the move of migrants to the UK is going to be easier tomorrow!

Here is a top 5 list of good UK immigration news announced for 2014 that we believe will make migration easy for many.

1. Welcome Bulgarians and Romanians!

Illustration from the Economist Article of Dec 2013 by Dave Simmons
Illustration from the Economist Article of Dec 2013 by Dave Simmons

First and foremost, we welcome and celebrate the removal of the barrier to work in the UK for Romanians and Bulgarians. On the 1st of January 2014, Bulgarians and Romanians will gain the same rights to work in the UK as other EU citizens #Yay

The temporary restrictions on the kind of jobs they could take before 2014 will be removed. Employers won’t need to apply for work permits and migrants will not need an “accession worker card” anymore. The low-skilled workers quota schemes in the agricultural and food processing sectors will be dropped. Bulgarians and Romanians will now be entitled to claim the same benefits and NHS care as other EU citizens.

The bureaucratic hassle is now over for Bulgarian and Romanians and the UK welfare state is now accessible to them similarly to other EU citizens. Let’s hope the integration on the UK job market and in Society will be made as easy and smooth!

2. More Visa options for talented people in Technology and Digital

The famous roundabout of the tech cluster in East London at night
The famous roundabout of the tech cluster in East London at night

The Home Office is determined to make of the UK the hotbed of entrepreneurs and latest digital technology businesses. As such, after several consultation with Tech businesses and leaders, it has agreed to open the exceptional talent route to individuals with exceptional talent in the Digital industry by granting Tech City, the government body representing tech, next April with the powers to grant such visa.

It completes an overall overall redesign of the UK immigration eco-system trying to attract to the best and brightest that will bring not just brain: but foster innovation, create jobs and adds wealth. Let’s hope this starts highlighting the contribution made all immigrants (highly skilled to low skilled) to the economy.

3. Internship visa options for International Students

International Students can now stay for a year internship in the UK
International Students can now stay for a year internship in the UK

Since October 2013, changes to the rules have made it easier for students to stay after their studies via a year internship. It is supposed to make it easy for international foreign students looking for work experience to switch to and boost their CV when back home. The impact of this new visa route are yet to be known and 2014 should let us know if the Tier 5 internship route has become a popular avenue.

4. Easing of the application process of the UK Entrepreneur Visa

Main challenges of the Entrepreneur Visa application lies in the paperwork to submit. One tough – the proof of 50k or 200K investment from a recognised and respected institution or VCs – has been smoothed thanks to clarifications last October.

Until October 2013, entrepreneurs applying for the visa were likely to be refused such letter from VCs and banks. Both investment institution do no give money to individuals but to businesses. As such many application for the visa have been pending or refused on that criteria. But since the clarification of the rules about the investment grant letter and the posted online templates for banks, the application process should prove smoother and refusal rate should drop… Fingers crossed and let’s watch the release of quarterly Uk immigration statistics in January.

5. UKBA definitely abolished and a new organisation of the Immigration Home Office Department.

UKBA will officially disappear and be replaced by 2 sections: UK Visas and Immigration & UK Immigration enforcement.

UKBA is divided in two new sections since April 2013
UKBA is divided in two new sections since April 2013

The UKBA has been accused for years of bad management. This re-organisation of the management of immigration by the Home Office means that the agency will no longer be doing antagonistic activities under one management. Instead, the Border Agency will now be made of two divided sections: one called Visas & Immigration will focus on the UK Visas system (welcoming of migrants and issuance of visas mainly). While the other will be assigned to tackling UK Immigration law enforcement. This should help a better and more efficient treatment of visa applications.

UKBA has announced the change last March, but this change will only be appearing next year officially. Already, the agency has started with survey to applicants to improve their services and more and more audits are being made with immigration experts to give reality check feedback to the policy makers. The UKBA will also organise HomeOfficeWorkingHours that are occasional events this year to help migrants already in the UK know their options and assist them in their applications.

Let's cheer up and cross fingers for more good news from Theresa May in 2014
Let’s cheer up and cross fingers for more good news from Theresa May in 2014

And you, what do you hope for 2014 in UK immigration? What do you wish to see or what progress made this year are you happy about ? Share with us on twitter @Migreat

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