Immigration news round up and reminders

We provide a summary of key UK immigration news and remind you of changes coming up in the next few months.

Net migration figures

The first net migration figures to show the impact of Brexit were published on 23 February 2017 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figures show that in the year to September 2016, net migration to the UK was down by 49,000 and now stands at 273,000.

However, the ONS said that the fall was ‘not statistically significant’. The fall is partly explained by the number of eastern Europeans leaving the UK. Politically, the fall in net migration will no doubt be welcomed by the Government as part of their continued overall strategy to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 and the latest figures show net migration at its lowest level for three years.

The release of these figures coincides with comments from David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, who admitted this week that the UK would still need low-skilled EU migrants post-Brexit.

Permanent residence applications

The vote for Brexit has resulted in a significant increase in the number of applications for permanent residence in the UK. In fact, there has been a doubling of such applications (from 92,289 in 2015 to 201,287 in 2016). However, of these applications, fewer than 50% were successful.

International students

The ONS report referred to above also stated that there had been a significant drop of 41,000 in the number of international students coming to study in the UK. However, there had been an increase in the number of visas issued to non-EU students.

Minimum income rule upheld by Supreme Court

On 22 February 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the Government’s minimum income rule for British citizens seeking to bring non-European spouses into Britain. A UK citizen or settled resident applying to bring their non-EEA spouse to the UK must earn at least £18,600 per year pre-tax. The threshold rises to £22,400 for those also sponsoring children.

Although the rule was accepted in principle by the judges, they stated that the Home Office procedures had failed to take account of the obligations owed to children or to allow consideration of alternative sources of funding.

Immigration Skills Charge

A reminder that from April 2017 an Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on employers who sponsor Tier 2 employees. The levy will be £1,000 per employee (and a reduced rate of £364 for smaller business and charities). There are some exemptions that may apply.

Minimum income thresholds

A reminder that from April 2017, the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers will be increased to £30,000 (although there are some exemptions for some employees in health and education).

Criminal record certificates

A reminder that from April 2017 applicants for entry clearly in 26 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes will be required to provide criminal record certificates for any country (excluding the UK) where they have lived continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more in the 10 years prior to the application.


Disclaimer

This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.

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