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MAC consultation on the future of the UK immigration system

As highlighted in our September Round-Up, we are participating in a call for evidence published by the UK’s Migration Advisory Committeee (MAC).

The UK government asked the MAC to advise it on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and also on how best to align the UK’s immigration system with a modern industrial strategy.

The MAC’s findings and recommendations will be based on the evidence it receives from interested parties. We will be your voice to the MAC. But to do so, we need your input and have developed a short survey to gather some general opinions.

Please find the survey here. It should not take you more than 5–10 minutes to complete the 13 questions. All responses will be anonymous and used to inform our response.

Please complete the survey by Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

Note: The acronym “EEA” refers to the European Economic Area, which includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The EU countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

If you have any queries, please contact your usual Dentons lawyer.

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MAC consultation on the future of the UK immigration system

MAC to examine the role EU nationals play in the UK

The UK government has tasked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the government’s independent advisers on migration, to examine the role EU nationals’ play in the UK economy and society.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, engaged the MAC to look into the British labor market, the overall role of migration in the wider economy, and how a modern industrial strategy should align with the UK’s immigration system. The MAC will consult with a wide cross-section of businesses, employer organizations and EU citizens working in the UK.

The importance of this initiative should not be underestimated, as free movement will end when the UK exits the EU. The government is working on plans to develop the flow of migration from Europe. (See: The rights of EU citizens in the UK, The Global Mobility Review, July 13, 2017 blog post). The UK and the European Commission had key discussions at the end of July, and the next round of negotiations is scheduled for late August 2017.

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MAC to examine the role EU nationals play in the UK

Changes to the Tier 2 and Tier 5 immigration regime

On March 24, 2016, the UK government responded to the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review of Tier 2 policy and has announced numerous changes to Tier 2 policy going forward.

For Tier 2 (General) migrants:

  • Minimum salary threshold: increases to £25,000 in autumn 2016 and to £30,000 for experienced workers, while maintaining the current threshold of £20,800 for new entrants.
  • Waiver of Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT): in cases where the migrant will be relocating with a high-value business to the UK or, potentially, supporting an inward investment into the UK.

For Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer [ICT]) migrants:

  • Single route for ICT migrants: all ICT migrants must qualify under a single route with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500. The Home Office will have closed the Skills Transfer and Short Term visa categories to new applications. Graduate trainees will have their own route with a lower salary threshold of £23,000 with an increased limit of 20 places per company per year.
  • New Immigration Health Surcharge: from autumn 2016, the charge will be extended to all transferees.
  • High earners’ threshold: reduced from £155,300 to £120,000 for migrants looking to stay in the UK for a period between five and nine years.
  • From April 2017, migrants paid more than £73,900 will not be required to have one year’s experience.

For both Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) routes:

  • New Immigration Skills Charge: employers must pay a levy designed to encourage them to invest in training UK employees. The levy is set at £1,000 per year per Tier 2 migrant from April 2017. A reduced rate of £364 per person per year will apply to small and charitable sponsors.

Several other recommendations made by the MAC on January 19, 2016, will not be implemented by the UK government. Accordingly, the government has confirmed the following:

  • ICT overseas service: migrants will not be required to have worked for their overseas company for 24 months, which would have been an increase from the current requirement of 12 months.
  • Tier 2 (General) in-country switching applications from Tier 4 will not be subject to the RLMT.

Finally, it should be noted that the Home Office has introduced the following changes which affect Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors:

  • Record-keeping duties: for new migrant employees, sponsors must keep copies of references, Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, job descriptions and qualifications.
  • RLMT: when a sponsor advertises a vacancy on Universal Jobmatch, it must take a screenshot on the date the vacancy is first advertised.
  • Genuineness test: if the Home Office refuses an entry clearance or leave to remain application because it does not consider the job role to be genuine, it may suspend the Sponsor License to carry out further investigation.

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Changes to the Tier 2 and Tier 5 immigration regime

Minimum investments for Tier 1 (Investor) migrants to increase to £2 million?

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Further to Verity Buckingham’s blog post on 28 January 2014 Possible changes for Tier 1 Investor visas in the UK , the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has now published its report looking at investment thresholds and economic benefits of the UK Tier 1 (Investor) route. The report concludes that the current regime is of most benefit to migrants and that steps could be taken to deliver clearer benefits to the UK. To this end, MAC has proposed an increase in the minimum investment threshold from £1 million to £2 million. It has also recommended changes to encourage investors to move away from investing in gilts to alternative investment instruments in the UK market. Further, MAC has recommended that migrants no longer secure investment funds by a loan from a UK financial institution. This is, in part, because MAC does not consider it beneficial to the UK economy to effectively transfer money from UK Financial Institutions to the UK Government.

The MAC report also suggests better use of premium applications (allowing for accelerated settlement) for a limited number of investors up to 100. Under the proposals, Investor migrants would make a sealed bid for the available entry visas (with a suggested reserve price of £2.5 million). Those who were successful would benefit from reduced residential requirements (90 days a year) and a settlement qualification period of two years. The report recommends that money received from bids is red-circled in a specific “good causes” fund.

The report can be reviewed in full via the following link: MAC report – Tier 1 (Investor) route – Investment thresholds and economic benefits

This report is advisory in nature. However, it is likely to inform the Government’s view about changes to the immigration rules. Any changes are expected to come into force in April 2014.

Prospective migrants considering an application under the Tier 1 (Investment) route, may wish to consider making an application before any changes come into effect.

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Minimum investments for Tier 1 (Investor) migrants to increase to £2 million?

Possible changes for Tier 1 Investor visas in the UK

Change Ahead sign

The UK Government is concerned the current Tier 1 Investor route is not bringing benefits to the UK as envisaged.

Under the Tier 1 route, a migrant must invest a minimum of £1 million.  The investment must be in UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.

Investors are buying sufficient numbers of bonds to remain in the UK, and then selling them, possibly with a personal gain, on receiving UK settlement rights.  This was not how the Government envisaged the system working.

The Government has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on whether the current Tier 1 Investor requirements are the best way to deliver economic benefits for the UK.

The MAC is due to feed back to the Government with its view by 7 February 2014.

For more information see The Migration Advisory Committee.

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Possible changes for Tier 1 Investor visas in the UK