Global Immigration Update: U.K. Rule Changes

By Daniel King Nov 6, 2014
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United Kingdom Amends Immigration Rules

The U.K. Home Office released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on Oct. 16, 2014, in which amendments were made across several categories of the U.K. immigration system.

Main Changes to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

An assessment of whether a genuine vacancy exists is being added to the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) routes.

This change empowers entry clearance officers and caseworkers to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job described by the sponsor does not genuinely exist, has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold, or has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited, or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not qualified to do the job.

Depending on how it is interpreted by the Immigration Service, this change may mark a move away from a purely objective points-based system.

Business Visitors

The Business Visitor route is being expanded to include new eligible activities as follows:

  • Allowing scientists and researchers to share knowledge, expertise and advice on an international project which is being led by the U.K.
  • Creating a provision for overseas lawyers, who are employees of international law firms which have offices in the U.K., to provide direct advice to clients in the U.K. on litigation or international transactions provided they remain paid and employed overseas.
  • Allowing graduates of an overseas nursing school to be admitted as a business visitor in order to sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination.

Other Changes

There are also some changes to the other Tier 1 routes (General, Entrepreneur and Exceptional talent) as well as to the appeals system for students under Tier 4. There are also several other minor changes; please see the full Statement of Changes for more details.

South African Intra-company Transfer Work Visa Renewals Now Possible

The South African Department of Home Affairs issued a directive Oct. 27, 2014, advising that a second intra-company transfer work visa, with validity of up to four years, may be issued to a foreign national who has already held an intra-company transfer work permit. This is welcome news and clears up some inconsistencies.

The second intra-company transfer work visa application must be made in the country of citizenship or ordinary residence of the applicant; it cannot be submitted from within South Africa.

It is important to note that the directive applies to those applicants who previously held intra-company transfer work permits before implementation of the new immigration regulations, in May 2014.

New intra-company transfer work visas issued under the new regulations will be issued for a maximum validity period of four years and cannot be renewed.

Review current intra-company transfer permit and visa holders and plan for possible renewals, taking travel requirements into account: those with permits granted prior to the implementation of new regulations in May 2014 will be able to apply for new four-year intra-company transfer work visas, by returning to their country of residence to make the application.

Colombia Launches Expedited Service for MERCOSUR and CAN Nationals

Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur) and CAN (Comunidad Andina) nationals currently resident in Colombia will be able to enter and exit the country in an expedited manner under the country’s new Automatic Migration Service.

Nationals of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) and CAN countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) who are resident in Colombia with a valid visa and who have a computer-readable passport, may qualify for the service.

Subscribers to this service will be able to enter and exit Colombia without having their passports stamped. Instead, they can scan an ID card with new machines now being installed at international airports in Colombia, thus saving time at the airport and space in their passport.

Applicants must have their photograph and fingerprints taken at a registration interview at Migration Colombia, and pay an annual fee.

This may be a good option for Mercosur and CAN nationals resident in Colombia who need to enter and exit the country several times per year.

New Work Permits Suspended in Kenya

The issuance of work permits has been suspended since early October, as the new director of immigration disbanded the committee which sits to deliberate over work permit applications.

Therefore, although the immigration department is still accepting work permit applications, no new work permits will be issued until a new committee is constituted.

When a new committee is eventually reinstated it is likely that there will be significant delays due to the backlog of applications.

Those applicants who urgently need work authorization may apply for Special Passes, which have not been affected. A Special Pass enables business or short-term work activities in Kenya for a period of up to 90 days.

Voluntary Alien Registration Program Launched in the Philippines

The Philippines Bureau of Immigration initiated an Alien Registration Program (ARP) on Oct. 1, 2014, to update its database of foreign nationals, but has announced that it will be voluntary for now, due to implementation issues and the initial high volume of applicants.

Who Must Register, and Who Is Exempt?

Between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015, a foreign national extending their stay in the Philippines beyond 59 days is required to present themselves at the Bureau of Immigration to register under the program. Although the bureau has said that currently, registration is not mandatory, this is likely to change in the near future.

For 9(a) Tourist Visa holders extending their stay beyond 59 days, and Special Work Permit holders, the ARP registration will be done at the time of application for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identity card (ACR I-Card). Previously, a personal appearance was not required for an ACR I-Card application in these cases; it now is, since biometrics must be taken.

Exemptions

Those whose stay has not exceeded and will not exceed 59 days are exempt. Also, foreign nationals with a current, valid ACR I-Card which required a biometrics interview at the time of application are exempt from the requirement and will be registered under ARP on renewal of their ACR I-Card.

Also exempt are holders of certain classes of visa, including the Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa and the Multiple Entry Special Visa.

Procedure

The foreign national will have to give biometric data including photographs and fingerprints, submit an application form, present valid proof of identity and pay a processing fee at one of the participating bureau offices in the Philippines. They will be issued that day with a Special Security Registration Number (SSRN), to be used in all further transactions with the bureau. They will also be issued (later, by mail) a new-style ACR I-Card.

Daniel King is communications director for Peregrine Immigration Management, which provides global immigration management software, training, project work and consulting services.

Republished with permission. © 2014 Peregrine.

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