Immigration Update - October 2015

22 October 2015

In this month's update we cover nurses added to shortage occupation list, Tier 2 restricted CoS, prevention of illegal working the immigration bill and more

Nurses added to shortage occupation list

On 15 October 2015 the Government announced that nurses are being added to the shortage occupation list. This is only an interim measure, pending a review in February 2016 by the Migration Advisory Committee.

Despite a drive to train more nurses, there is currently a skills shortage. Trusts who have struggled to recruit sufficient nurses have traditionally relied on agency staff. But their ability to call on such workers is being curtailed by new restrictions on agency spending and a desire to provide better continuity of patient care. Trusts also face the prospect of delivering a seven day NHS, whilst maintaining recommended safe staffing levels.

Adding nurses to the shortage occupation list makes it easier for trusts to recruit, sponsor and retain nurses from outside the EEA, because:

  • there is an exemption from the obligation to complete a formal resident labour market test
  • priority is given when deciding how to distribute the monthly allocation of restricted certificates of sponsorship
  • there is an exemption from the minimum salary requirement when applying for indefinite leave to remain.

Tier 2 Restricted CoS

Following changes to the scoring system, the minimum salary level for successful applications in October dropped to £22,000.

However, we expect to see an increase next month in nurses applying for restricted certificates of sponsorship following the changes noted above. This is likely to have a knock-on effect for other professions, who will be left to compete for the remaining certificates. Therefore we anticipate that the minimum salary level will rise again.

Prevention of illegal working

Latest statistics show that during the first quarter of 2015, 943 illegal workers were found in the UK and employers were fined a total of £9m.

We noted last month that construction firms are facing increased scrutiny from the Home Office. ‘Operation Magnify’ has now been officially launched “to root out illegal working in the construction sector.” Therefore we expect there will be even more compliance visits to building sites around the country.

At the same time the latest Immigration Bill will provide for tougher penalties on those who employ illegal workers and introduce a new offence of illegal working which will allow earnings to be seized as proceeds of crime.

Children’s Commissioner reports on financial requirement

The Children’s Commissioner has published a damning review of the financial requirements for a spouse visa. The commissioner found that they “do not meet their stated policy aims” and the current Immigration Rules “breach national and international law.” The minimum income threshold of £18,600 was considered to be “too high and is discriminatory.”

The report suggests that the government should change the financial requirement and give greater consideration to the best interests of the 15,000 children (most of them British) who have been affected by the Rules.

Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill is making its way through Parliament. We will provide further updates once it is in final form.

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