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Significant Reforms to UK Immigration Norms Unveiled

March 2015, 13
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UK Visas and Immigration
Recently, UK Visas and Immigration has unveiled major reforms to the UK’s immigration norms. Most of these amendments will come into force from 6 April 2015 and will remain effective to people who are filing an application for a new visa or applying for an extension on that date. 

Existing visas and applications filed before 6 April will be subjected to prevailing visa regulations. The announced amendments will have a greater impact on employers as well as employees. 

Starting from 6 April 2015, a new entry clearance application process will be implemented for applicants who are applying for a visa that lasts for more than six months from the outside of UK. To act in accordance with European Regulations, for the coming four months to July 2015, the UK government is planning to start biometric visa approvals for foreigners. And, there is a country by country phased implementation and if it goes into play, a decision letter will be issued to successful applicants and their passport will be approved with a one month temporary visa running from their intended date of travel, which allows them to enter the country. 

And, after entering the UK the individual will have 10 days to collect a Biometric Identity Document (BID), which consists of their visa from a particular post office location. Nonetheless, individuals are requested to collect their BID within the above stated period to avoid cancellation of their visa. 

Apparently, the immigration cap for Tier 2 General will remain at 20,700 for one year commencing on 6 April 2015. Nevertheless, the monthly Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (abbreviated as RCoS) allocation will be rebalanced so that UKVI will add up to 2,550 RCoS in April 2015 and maximum 1,650 in every following month to March 2016. If there are any spare certificates that are not issued can still be renewed to the next month. 

Effective 6 April 2015, UKVI is revising the minimum salary rates in the Codes of Practice. And, UKVI is increasing the thresholds and minimum salaries and for new Tier 2 applications. It is also abolishing the one-year cooling off period for Tier 2 visas granted for a maximum period of three months. 

UKVI has announced new rules merging the visitor visa guidance starting from 24 April 2015. These reforms will combine current 15 routes into 4 routes including visit (standard), permitted paid engagements, marriage / civil partnership and transits. Visit (standard) will include the existing tourist visa and business visa categories. The new permitted activities that travelers can perform includes foreign trainers will be able to provide training to certain UK employees. Visitor visa applications for more over six months must be filed outside the country before you travel. 

Additionally, UKVI is initiating a National Health Service surcharge, which is applicable to almost all visa applicants entering the country for over six months, however, it is not applicable to Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer applicants and their family members. The surcharge will set a level of £200 per applicant per year of the granted visa.     

UKVI have evaluated the language tests and have taken away some test providers leaving only two providers on the list. For those applicants who undertake a test after 6 April 2015, their test provider should be mentioned on the list. 

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