28 days grace period is to be abolished – New Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules of 3 November 2016

On 3rd November the Home Office announced new Statement of Changes, making a number of changes to the Tier 2 and Tier 4 categories, changes to the English language requirement to migrants of a 5 year family route and quite significantly, abolition of 28 day grace period for making out of time applications. Some of the changes were forthcoming for quite some time, in particular changes to Tier 2 category and increase of English language requirement to level A2 for family immigration application under 5 year route, we covered both comprehensively in our previous articles  in May and August respectively.

Tier 2

The first phase of the upcoming changes to Tier 2 category is being rolled out in accordance with MAC report published earlier in the year. The changes will take effect for all certificates of sponsorship assigned on or after 24 November 2016. Changes include in particular:

  • The threshold for experienced workers will increase to £25,000, with some minor exemptions;
  • The Tier 2 (ICT) skills transfer category will now be completely closed for new applicants;
  • Tier 2 (ICT) graduate trainee salary threshold is reduced to £23,000, however there will be a slight increase in the amount of places to 20 per company per year;
  • Tier 2 (ICT) salary threshold for short-term staff will be increased to £30,000.

Tier 4

Statement of Changes introduces minor amendments to academic progression rules, to the acceptable overseas qualifications as evidence of English language proficiency, acceptable UK qualification and other minor changes to the wording, which we do not propose to cover in this article.

English Language Requirement

English language requirement increase for migrants under 5 year family route

We published an article recently about proposed increase of English language requirement to level A2 CEFR for extension applications for family route migrants under 5 years route. This will now take effect for all applications for extension after initial 2.5 years of leave, which is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.

Abolition of 28 day grace period

The Home Office will abolish a 28 day grace period for out of time applications made on or after 24 November 2016. This is one of the most significant and unexpected changes to the UK Immigration Rules. The change will have a serious impact on those applicants who miss expiry of their leave or have to reapply after the refusal of their leave to remain or following an unsuccessful appeal. The Home Office in their memorandum indicates that retaining this rule “sends a message which is inconsistent with the need to ensure compliance with the United Kingdom’s immigration laws”.

In situations where the application is made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring, it will still be considered provided there was a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative. Evidence as to why an in time application could not be made would have to be provided with the application, provided the application is made within 14 days of the expiry of leave. The Home Office does not clarify what will constitute a “good reason”, but it is expected that further guidance will follow in the upcoming weeks.

In instances where the application is made following the refusal of the previous in-time application, the grace period will be reduced to 14 days from either:

(i) the refusal of the previous application for leave; or

(ii) the expiry of any leave extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971; or

(iii) the expiry of the time-limit for making an in-time application for administrative review or appeal (where applicable); or

(iv) any administrative review or appeal being concluded, withdrawn or abandoned or lapsing.

New Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 were also announced, which will come into force on 1 February 2017. The most important changes will be outlined in a separate article.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. Edmans & Co would be pleased to provide additional details or advice about specific situations.

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