Immigration Update - August 2016

19 August 2016

This month's immigration update features articles covering Tier 2 Sponsor Licenses, Brexit, speaking English in a customer-facing role and a Tier 4 pilot.

The Home Office has anticipated a rush later this year in Sponsor Renewal Applications. To deal with this some sponsors have received correspondence from the Home Office requesting that an application is made early. Birketts have confirmed with the Home Office that any sponsors wishing to take advantage of this option will have the start date of the renewed licence set for the expiry of the existing licence and will not therefore be inconvenienced by applying early.


On 12 July a debate was held in parliament on a ten minute rule bill on the rights of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals leaving the EU. A ten minute rule bill is a way of debating a topical question, and is generally unlikely to result in an Act of parliament although it can lead to a Bill being prepared, presented to parliament and given a second reading, as is likely to be the case for this Bill.

The debate focussed on providing guarantees to the position of EEA nationals in the UK to protect individuals, businesses and universities. There is some considerable debate on when the ‘cut-off’ date for protection should apply - whether it is the date of referendum or should be applied at the point of actual exit.

In the meantime, British Future will be providing the secretariat to an inquiry that will examine options for guaranteeing the status of EU nationals who are currently living in the UK. The inquiry has cross-party, business and trade union support and will start from the position that letting EU citizens stay in the UK is the right thing to do. Its aim is to examine how to make this work in practice and to make practical recommendations to the Government. The inquiry will be chaired by the prominent Leave MP Gisela Stuart, and will meet in September 2016, with a view to making its recommendations later this autumn. Calls for contributions will be announced shortly.

We have prepared notes on the subject of Brexit and our recommendations for employers and EEA nationals, which can be accessed here.

English language

Following the introduction of the Immigration Act 2016, the Government has indicated its intention to bring Part 7 of the Act into force in October 2016. Public authorities will be required to ensure that their staff in customer-facing roles speak fluent English (or Welsh), sufficient to enable the effective performance of that role. The Government has published its finalised draft Code of practice on the English language requirements for public sector workers, which will be laid before parliament, in order to ensure that public authorities are ready to adhere to the relevant duties once these come into force.

Tier 4 pilot

The Home Office is operating a pilot for those applying to study on a Masters of 13 months or less at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath or Imperial College London. As part of a Tier 4 pilot scheme, Masters from these universities will be granted six months’ leave after their course has ended in order to give them slightly longer than other graduates to seek work, usually under Tier 2, should they wish to stay. All other Master’s graduates are granted either two or four months’ leave after their course has ended, depending on how long their course is, which they can use to look for work, arrange further study or travel before leaving the UK.

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