Immigration Monthly Update- October 2022
20 October 2022
Suella Braverman’s 2022 Speech to Conservative Party Conference
On 4 October 2022, Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP made a Speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham where she outlined her objectives as Home Secretary of the United Kingdom.
In her speech, Braverman echoed her mission to ‘stop the boats crossing the Channel’, in particular noting her objective to build a stronger partnership with France to ‘control [the] borders’. Braverman reinforced her support for previous Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s controversial Rwanda scheme and reiterated her objective for UK courts to move away from the control of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – an objective which has gained momentum following the ECHR’s recent overruling of the Supreme Court which resulted in the grounding of the Rwanda deportation flight.
Additionally, Braverman stressed her aim to stop the alleged abuse of the asylum seeker route and modern slavery laws in the UK and stamp out illegal working practices in the UK. We can therefore expect more compliance checks to be carried out for UK businesses.
Braverman also vocalised her ‘reservations’ about Britain’s trade deal with India. The Indian Government is demanding an increase in work and study visas for Indian nationals and a new deal received support from previous Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and current Prime Minister, Liz Truss. Braverman however criticised a deal with India, affirming that Indian migrants make up the largest number of over-stayers in the UK and previous agreements with the Indian Government to facilitate better cooperation in this regard have ‘not necessarily worked very well’. On this basis, the long awaited India Young Professionals visa scheme – the proposed addition to the existing Tier 5 youth Mobility Scheme, remains on hold and applications are not being accepted at this time.
Potential Cap on Dependants for International Students
As part of Braverman’s long term aim to cut net migration to ‘tens of thousands’ she is looking to tighten the Immigration rules to limit the number of dependants international students can bring to the UK. This cap forms part of Braverman’s wider objective to tackle ‘bad migration’ in the UK. Of course Braverman’s cap proposal could harm the UK economy as it may in turn discourage students from coming to the UK.
Potential expansion of the Shortage Occupation List
There is suggestion that we may see an expansion of the Shortage Occupation List to help UK businesses to fill jobs. A review of the Shortage Occupation List by the Migration Advisory Committee has already been commissioned, however its scope is limited. It is expected that the list will be expanded to include some core infrastructure roles e.g. broadband engineers. Many agree that an expansion to the list should seek to offer more perks for both employers and workers. For example, exemption from the Immigration Skills Charge, exceptions or concessions on English language proficiency requirements or shorter routes to settlement that would provide further incentive for workers to apply for such roles.
Prior to the most recent change in Chancellor, the Government had indicated that, following Home Office consultation, they would pause the MAC consultation until after the publication of the Growth Plan (expected in late October/early November) and subsequent corresponding immigration policy announcement. No further update has been provided yet under the new cabinet (as at 19 October 2022).
Potential amendments to the English Language requirement
In a bid to improve productivity and reduce recruitment delays for business, there has been suggestion that the Government may look to remove the English Language requirement for initial Entry Clearance applications for those seeking to relocate to the UK and instead to apply this only as a requirement for later visa extensions or settlement applications. (NB. There is a precedent for this – previously under the old rules for the Intra Company Transfer route, English proficiency was tested and required for extensions).
If this were to become policy, this would certainly be good news for both employers and applicants as it will be both time and cost efficient. The introduction of the English Language Requirement at the extension stage would also incentivise workers to improve their English whilst they are in the UK.
This would be a positive solution for applicants; many of whom are either failing to qualify for the visa, despite having niche and highly sought after skills needed in the UK labour market, or who are having to go through the slow and costly process of securing verification of their degree qualifications and delaying them starting with their UK employer. There is an argument that if employers are satisfied that the applicant’s English proficiency is sufficient for them to complete their roles, that this should therefore be sufficient in the first instance.
Such an amendment has not yet been confirmed and is likely to be subject to further debate.
Potential amendments to High Potential Individual Visa
The High Potential Visa route opened on 30 May 2022 and there is already suggestion that the Home Office may seek to expand the scope of this route.
The current framework for the High Potential Visa route only includes the ‘top 50 universities’ however these are predominately in North America. Although India is one of the major providers of workers to the UK, no Indian Universities are currently included within the framework. There has been suggestion that the framework will be expanded to the ‘top 100 universities’ globally and this would therefore make the route more diverse. However, given Suella Braverman’s recent ‘reservations’ to Britain’s trade deal with India, it is uncertain whether such a change will take effect in the near future.
An expanded HPI route would be welcome for business to access the best talent from around the world and would enable businesses to limit their expenditure on visa sponsorship and to reduce administrative burden.
The Home Office has updated the expiry date for applicants requesting additional time to stay in the UK due to COVID, known as ‘exceptional assurance’, to 31 October 2022. This may only apply to individuals who are unable to return to a country or territory they are resident in, as that nation has closed their borders or where quarantine facilities are temporarily over-subscribed. The beneficiaries of this Exceptional Assurance scheme are therefore expected to be highly limited now that international travel has largely resumed.
Good Character requirement for British Nationality applications
The Home Office has brought its guidance on the good character requirement in line with the changes they made to the Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
The guidance now confirms that where a person has committed previous breaches of the Immigration Rules for example illegal entry, overstaying and absconding – such breaches may be disregarded when assessing an applicant’s good character provided that all the following apply:
• The person is applying for naturalisation as a British Citizen or registration after 28th June 2022;
• That person holds Indefinite Leave to Remain; and
• There are no concerns regarding the persons character which have arisen following the grant of Indefinite Leave to Remain
Therefore, where individuals hold indefinite leave to remain they can make an application for naturalisation without concern of their previous breaches of immigration rules.
This relaxation of the good character requirement is welcome as there was consensus that it was disproportionate to disadvantage applicants for breaches dating as far back as 10 years prior to the citizenship application.
Confirmed removal of Police Registration requirements for visa nationals
On 18 October 2022, the Immigration (Registration with Police) (Revocation) Regulations 2022 was introduced into law, to formally remove the requirement for certain country nationals holding visa status in the UK to register with police on arrival in the UK and with mandatory check-in points whilst they held time limited visa permission. All existing visa holders that hold police registration certificates will no longer be required to update them.
Review of seasonal visa scheme to ease worker shortages
The Government is reportedly reviewing the cap on seasonal worker visas after pressure from the industry to fill vacancies. The agricultural sector faces heightened recruitment challenges due to the remote geographic location of the roles that largely sit outside of areas of high population density in rural locations.
Clarification on Right to Work checks
Following changes in Right to Work check procedures effective from 1 October, the Home Office published a statement on 11 October to confirm that use of an online Share Code or IDVT online check, does not negate the need for business to also carry out an ‘imposter check’ i.e. visual verification that the person presenting for work is the same person as per the digital right to work check result.
The Home Office has confirmed that the “The imposter / day one check can be done via a video call or in person when the individual attends for work. It is for the employer to decide upon the most appropriate manner for this to be carried out.”
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 October 2022.