In 2017, we saw the government push ahead with its policy to reduce net migration to “sustainable levels.” Businesses saw the introduction of the Immigration Skills Levy, the closure of the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Short Term route and an increase to the minimum salary threshold for skilled workers. The government failed to publish its White Paper in Autumn but we did have a glimpse into its plans for EU nationals by way of an 82 page leaked paper which set out how it intends to refocus policy to put British workers first.
On 7 December 2017, the government announced changes to the immigration rules. The changes came into effect from 28 December with the majority of changes taking effect from 11 January 2018.
Tier 2 General
Most changes are expected to be positive:
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
The number of places available under this category has been increased from 1,000 per year to 2,000 per year. These places will be allocated “according to need” and will not be allocated between Designated Competent Bodies.
Further, exceptional talent visa holders will be able to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) following 3 years of residency in the UK.
Brexit & EEA Nationals
EEA nationals will be expected to register with the Home Office by the end of the year with the “default position” of the Home Office to accept applications. There will be a new “settled status.” All documents currently issued to EEA nationals and their family members (registration certificates and permanent residence documents) will be invalidated.
We also expect to shortly see a long awaited Immigration Bill which will subject EEA nationals to UK immigration law and formally repeal the Immigration (Economic Area) Regulations 2016.
In July 2017, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy. MAC’s report is due in September.
Our business immigration team will continue to provide business immigration updates.