Read on for an update on the MAC report as well as more information on English language tests, visa application fees, the Global Talent visa and the biometric residence permits expiration dates.
We had previously promised to provide an update on the MAC report into recommendations for a points-based system and salary thresholds. This was published on 28 January 2020. However, in practical terms this has been superseded by the Government’s announcement of 19 February 2020 (see above).
We note that the government has accepted some recommendations and ignored others. It is telling that the Chair of the MAC wished to serve a second term, but is being replaced. His parting shot is that the MAC needs to be nurtured as a “reliable, independent, authoritative voice in an area where passions often run high.”
Given the role envisaged for the MAC in our future immigration system, it will be interesting to see whether the Government choses to make additional resources and funding available and how they respond to the report’s recommendation to improve data availability and access to help the MAC in its work.
BRP expiry dates
Recently there has been confusion as biometric residence permits (BRPs) are being issued with a maximum expiry date of 31 December 2024. This is even the case where an applicant is granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, or limited leave which expires after 31 December 2024.
The problem is caused by the fact the Home Office is not currently using the next generation of encryption technology for BRPs. Under existing EU technical specifications, the UK is required to ensure that all BRPs in circulation after 31 December 2024 meet new EU encryption technology standards. Therefore the Home Office has been limiting BRPs to this date, with a view to then replacing them with a new document free of charge in due course.
The Home Office recently confirmed that any person whose leave should extend beyond 31 December 2024, will still have extant leave beyond the expiry date on their BRP. However, the migrant will need to apply for a replacement BRP, which will be provided free of charge. The new BRP will be valid until the end of the period of leave granted to the migrant. As such, the period of leave granted will be split between two BRPs.
As we have now left the EU, we know the Government is considering how to best document immigration status and that it is in favour of a digital system (as used for the EU Settled Status scheme). It is possible that a new digital system will be introduced instead of the new encryption technology for BRPs. In fact this is likely to be essential if the Government is to avoid a situation where thousands of BRPs have to be issued in a short space of time in December 2024.
Information regarding the process to apply for a replacement document should be available by July 2024. Those affected should keep a watchful eye for the release of any advice.
Global Talent visa
From 20 February 2020, the visa category for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise has been rebranded and expanded into a new visa category – Global Talent.
The previous ways of qualifying for this visa will continue, namely:
- peer review and endorsement by an approved endorsing body
- job offer for a senior role at a UK university or research institution; or
- holding a prestigious grant or fellowship named on a particular list.
Additionally, the changes mean that where a researcher or specialist is recruited using certain research funding grants, they will automatically be eligible for a Global Talent visa.
As a result, the route can now potentially be used by early stage post-doctoral researchers and specialist technicians. There is no cap on numbers. However, there are constraints which mean it is likely to be some time before we see the first applications coming through.
The grant needs to be awarded by a recognised funder under the peer review principle, for at least £30,000, supporting a project that will last at least two years. The person, or their specific role, must have been named in the grant application and they must be given a contract for at least two years, working at least 50% FTE. They will need to be employed or hosted by a UK university, independent research organisation or public sector research establishment.
Visas granted under this particular part of the rules will be valid for five years. Migrants will not be tied to their original funded project and will be able to move role and employer. They would be eligible for settlement after just three years. However, any dependants they bring will still be required to spend five years in the UK before they can settle.
The Government has indicated that it will continue this route after the introduction of a new points-based immigration system in 2021. Whilst it is undoubtedly good news for the research sector, it still provides a narrow view of what amounts to “the brightest and the best” and favours established public institutions over innovative businesses carrying out research and development.
English language tests
The list of approved English Language test providers has been updated.
Test takers must ensure that the tests taken after 7 February 2020 are on the current list.
There are circumstances in which previous tests can still be relied upon, but this depends on the nature of the immigration application. For advice on whether an old test can be used in your application, please contact a member of our Immigration Team.
Visa application fees
The Home Office has published an updated list of visa application fees. No fee increases are proposed at this time.
This article is from the February 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts’ Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at February 2020.