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Immigration legal update January 2020

28 January 2020

As part of the Government’s plans for a new immigration system to be implemented by 2021, it is anticipated that there will be three broad categories of visa which will apply to both EU nationals and non-EU nationals.

The first category will be based on “exceptional talent or contribution”. This is likely to cover the existing Tier 1 Investor category, Innovators and start-ups. These visas will not require a job offer and will receive fast-track entry. There will be no cap on the number of visas issued under this category and additional points will be awarded to those who have received awards in a qualifying field or endorsed by relevant governing bodies.

The second category will be for skilled workers with a job offer like the existing Tier 2 category. The majority of these visas will require the employer to hold a sponsor licence and will only be available to migrants with an offer of employment. It is likely that salary and skills thresholds will apply in much the same way as the current Tier 2 system. The Government is aiming to streamline the process and speed up the sponsorship of skilled workers. Currently the end-to-end process for a Tier 2 General visa can be anywhere between 8 and 20 weeks.

The third will be “sector-specific rules based” which will be made up of specific temporary schemes such as for low-skilled labour, youth mobility and short term visits. The general principle will be that there will not be a general route for low or unskilled workers unless there is a specific labour market shortage identified by the Migrant Advisory Committee. The Home Secretary will, on the advice of the MAC, have the ability to set up capped schemes to fill specific labour shortages, such as the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme. There will also be a specific scheme for short term visits such as touring and work assignments. These visas will not lead to settlement and are likely to be of short duration. The Government will attempt to match the demand for workers in specific sectors with enough visas to supply that demand.

The current Immigration Rules have been reviewed by The Law Commission to identify ways in which they could be redrafted to make them simpler and more accessible. They do not propose any changes to the rules themselves, as this is the function of Government and the Migrant Advisory Committee, but they did make several recommendations on restructuring and redrafting.

A total of 41 separate recommendations were made, intended to make the rules more accessible for non-expert users. The Commission found that most applicants do not have access to professional legal support, typically because of the lack of legal aid and/or the high cost of seeking legal advice independently. As such, the rules should be easy enough to understand without the help of an expert but should also carry the requisite degree of precision. However, it is not clear whether these recommendations will be implemented by the Government.

By Hesham Shoeb

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