New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will have much on his plate with the Brexit (non) negotiations with the EU. Immigration remains an issue that divides the nation and perhaps underlines much of the ill-feeling that led to the Brexit vote over two years ago. These ill-feelings, the failure of the Hostile Environment, business concern over failure to attract skilled workers to the UK and the impending collapse of the pound will also be of concern to the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel. She is widely seen as a hardliner on immigration, but how will that play with the Conservative Party’s traditional pro-business line?
Here are 5 aspects of that UK Immigration Solicitors think should remain unchanged under the new Home Secretary:
1. Keep the employer helpline
The Home Office support employers who are not sure if a prospective employee has permission to work in the United Kingdom by providing a hotline that they can call. Once the prospective employer has provided details, the Home Office caseworker can advise, usually with a degree of certainty whether the individual has permission to work in the United Kingdom. These issues sound obvious but can be unclear, can a student work full time once his course is over but his visa has not yet expired, or only full time?. Can someone appealing in the UK remain working ? There are many other thorny questions that need to be dealt with.
2. Keep the 10 year long residence rule
The current rules do not allow except a person to remain in the UK permanently simply because they have been in the UK a long time, except in one circumstance, where a person has remained in the United Kingdom for 10 years. There is a further rule that allows for individuals to remain in the UK permanently if they have been her for 20 years, albeit they do not need to have resided in the UK lawfully for that period. The 10 year rule, which allows lawfully present migrants to get Indefinite Leave to remain if they are here lawfully and have not left for more than 6 months, is often useful for those who came to the UK as students and stayed here for a long period of study. These persons can often miss out of Indefinite Leave to remain in the 5 year route, and as such the 10 year route recognises their lawful contribution whilst they have been here.
3. Maintain the investor visa at 2 million not increase any further.
The UK Tier Investor visa used to require only an investment into the UK of 1 million pounds, of which only 75% needed to be actually invested, with 25% being able to be kept in property or cash in the UK. So in effect more than doubling the required investment to 2 million pounds has already cut out a significant number of people who could have applied and invested in the UK. Currently, equivalent programs around the world that provide EU nationality such as Malta are less than 2 million pounds in minimum investment, albeit Malta is much slower than more expensive programmes such as Cyprus. The UK brand means that the Investor Visa programme will always have some demand, but not much if the minimum investment amount is greater than 2 million pounds.
4. Maintain Visa fees at current levels – an increase would make the UK unprofitable.
The Home Secretary should ensure that Visa fees maintained at their current levels, as given the delays in visa processing and the often not fit for purpose quality of decision making, it cannot be said that visa fees are good value for money. It would be much simpler if visa fees are were reviewed by an independent body – not the Home Office, and they made final decisions, not mere recommendations, after periods of consultation.
5. Maintain the flexibility in Visit Visa permitted activities
The Immigration Rules covering what those who were here on a visit visa (often known as a Tourist visa) were permitted to do. Could you get married? (no, there is a separate marriage visit for that) Could you work?(no). Could you do business (unclear, what is meant by business, for example can you take a meeting, negotiate a contract, service a client?)
Changes to the visa allowed for limited business activity without the need for a separate business visit visa and this flexibility should be maintained.
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