Changes to the Immigration Rules: April 2015

The UK Government has recently published proposed changes to the immigration rules relevant to employers and individuals travelling to the UK for business.  Most of the changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.

The key changes for employers and business travellers are as follows:

•    The rules for “visitors” travelling to the UK are going to be significantly changed.  Currently there are 15 potential routes of entry as a visitor; post-April there will be only 4.  The new “visitor (standard)” route will incorporate the current business visitor and tourist categories.  Any individuals travelling to the UK in this category will therefore need to seek advice about how the changes impact on their ability to travel and what they are permitted to do once they get here.  This is part of the ongoing crackdown by UK Border Control to make sure that “visitors” genuinely satisfy the requirements of this category – and are not, for example, trying to use it as an easy way of getting round the requirements for sponsorship under the Points Based System.

•    The annual minimum salary levels and appropriate salary rates under Tier 2 are being updated.  This may be important where businesses are currently in the process of recruiting sponsored staff; for example, employers should ensure they allocate any Certificates under the old levels before 5 April 2015 to prevent the need to re-advertise at the higher salary rate.

•    The Tier 2 “cooling off period” is going to be waived for individuals who spend less than 3 months in the UK; this will be helpful for employers looking to bring employees into the UK on short term assignments, as it means they will have the option of bringing them back to the UK for a longer term job.  It is likely to be useful for companies who use interns (and who potentially want to bring the interns back for a permanent position at a later date) or global businesses who send employees to the UK for short periods.

If you would like to discuss this article in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Employment team.