Immigration Update - February 2016

Published: 24/02/2016

Immigration Health Surcharge

From 6 April 2016, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is being extended to nationals of Australia and New Zealand who are applying for visas to spend more than six months in the UK. Individuals who have paid the IHS will then have access to the NHS while they are in the UK.

The cost is £200 per person per year, so £500 for a two and a half year visa as the spouse of a British national, or £600 for a three year visa as a Tier 2 General migrant. However, those applying for visas under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (for ages 18-30), will benefit from a discounted rate of £150 per year.

Voting in the EU Referendum

A referendum to decide whether the UK should remain in the EU will be held on 23 June 2016. The date is subject to approval by Parliament. British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over the age of 18 and who are resident in the UK can vote. Expatriate UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years will also have a say, subject to them registering in good time at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Citizens of EU countries living in Britain, other than those from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, will not be able to vote.

Guidance for landlords

In our last update we provided details of the obligation upon landlords of residential properties to carry out right to rent checks on their tenants from 1 February 2016: see http://www.birketts.co.uk/resources/legal-updates/1790/immigration-update--january-2016/. The Home Office has now finalised its range of guidance on this topic: 
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/landlords-immigration-right-to-rent-checks.

Immigration Bill 2015-2016

The line by line examination of the Immigration Bill is ongoing in Parliament. The next stage is reporting in the House of Lords, which is scheduled for 9 March 2016.

Migrant journey

The sixth report on the migrant journey has been published: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/migrant-journey-sixth-report/migrant-journey-sixth-report.

This analyses migration statistics and in particular what has happened to those who originally entered the UK in 2009. The report considers how many of those people obtained settlement within five years, how many switched visa category and how many no longer have leave to remain in the UK. The report is designed to inform Parliament and the public of the impact of changes to the Immigration Rules.

25% of those granted a skilled worker visa in 2009 had settled by 2014 and a further 10% still had valid leave to remain. The data does not enable the reporters to confirm what happened to the other 65%, but they should have left the UK. The commentary suggests that these numbers are likely to have been influenced by the recession.

In 2009 41% of the skilled work visas were issued to Indian nationals, but a below average number had settled by 2014. American and Australian nationals were the least likely to stay in the UK, while Pakistani national were the most likely to have settled.

Minimum income requirement

The case of MM is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court on 22-24 February 2016. This is a challenge to the minimum income requirement of £18,600 for those wishing to obtain a visa as spouse of a British national. The outcome is awaited with interest.

For more information on any of the matters covered in this update, please contact Clare Hedges or Janice Leggett in our immigration team.

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