It has so far been a turbulent year for the UK and in particular UK Immigration. The country quite unexpectedly voted to leave the EU in the “Brexit” referendum and now aims to serve the Article 50 notice on the European Union by March 2017.
However, the whole process is marred with various legal challenges from pro-EU groups and it now looks unlikely that the notice will be given by March 2017, as originally planned. In the meantime, in November this year the government announced new version of the current EEA rules, that will come into force in February 2017.
The Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016 will mostly consolidate a huge number of changes made to it predecessor the Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2006 over the years and will introduce further amendments, which we will cover in a separate article.
Following the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) report on Tier 2 route earlier in the year, the Government has already introduced the first phase of changes to this category. Some of the significant changes include the annual salary threshold for experienced workers increasing to £25,000 from November this year and further to £30,000 from April 2017.
The government will additionally introduce Immigration Skills Surcharge in April 2017, making it more expensive for employers to sponsor migrants for a job. Coincidentally, those changes will not affect migrants switching from Tier 4 (Student) visa to Tier 2 (General) visa.
Quite significantly, in the latest statement of changes the Government decided to abolish the 28 days grace period for out of time applications made on or after 24 November 2016. This change will have a significant impact on those applicants who miss expiry of their leave or have to reapply after refusal of their leave to remain application or following an unsuccessful appeal.
The applications made within 14 days after the expiry of leave will still be considered, provided that there was a good reason why the application could not have been submitted in time. When an application is made following refusal of a previous in-time application, the grace period will be reduced to 14 days from the current 28 days.
Immigration is pretty much still the hot topic on the Government’s agenda and we expect that this area of law will embrace a variety of changes in the upcoming year. The Government has not yet reacted to the MAC’s report on Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route published in September 2015.
There were indications on the sweeping changes to the Tier 4 (Student) category and the Government is yet to announce its official position on the status of European nationals residing in the UK should the Article 50 be triggered and UK deciding to leave the European Economic Area. As always, lawyers at Edmans & Co will monitor future developments and keep you update in the New Year.