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The Right to Marry in the UK and Closure of the Certificate of Approval Scheme on 9th May 2011
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Changes to Student visas effective from 21 April 2011.
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Changes relating to Re-entry bans - reduced from 5 years to 2 years where individuals voluntarily return – April 2011.
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Post-Study Work (PSW) to close from April 2012
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Changes affecting settlement applications - New criminality and income requirements – from 6th April 2011.
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Accreditation Requirements - Important news for Colleges and Universities under Tier 4.

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Faster routes for settlement for Investors and Entrepreneurs under Tier 1 – March 2011.
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Closure of Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) – 10 March 2011.
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Tier 2 - skilled workers: Changes to Tier 2 (General) – limit on visas, changes to Shortage occupations list and Graduate level requirements started.  – March 2011.

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The Right to Marry in the UK and Closure of the Certificate of Approval Scheme on 9th May 2011.

  • The Certificate of Approval scheme was originally introduced back in February 2005. It was a response by the UKBA to concerns that some individuals were entering into sham (false) marriages, otherwise referred to as ‘marriages of convenience’, to improve their chances of being able to stay permanently in the UK.
  • The purpose of the scheme was to require individuals who had limited leave to remain to first make an application to the Secretary of State for permission to get married. The UKBA would then consider, based on the papers, whether they deemed the marriage to be genuine or not.  The scheme clearly interfered with the individual’s right to marry and was successfully challenged in the courts.
  • The scheme will now finally end on 9 May 2011, subject to approval by Parliament. Until then the UKBA have stated they will continue to process the applications.
  • The UKBA have stated applications can be withdrawn before this date in which case documents will be returned. Applicants or their representatives will need to write to the UKBA to request this. It is important to note that the UKBA are likely to retain passports of applicants where there are immigration concerns.  
  • Now that the COA scheme is abolished, individuals subject to immigration control (including, potentially, those with no immigration status) will be free to marry.
  • Other than marriages taking place in the Anglican church, to marry, an individual and his/her partner must give notice of marriage in their local Registry Office, whether or not they wish to marry in that district. The Superintendent Registrar or Registrar in Northern Ireland then issues authority for the marriage and you may marry in any Registry Office or local authority approved premises in any district.  

    • The UKBA have stated they will continue their efforts with the cooperation and assistance of civil registrars in seeking to identify sham marriages.INDEX

    Changes to Student visas effective from 21 April 2011.

    Colleges will need to be rated as “Highly Trusted”

    • By April 2012, any institution wanting to sponsor students will need to be classed as a “Highly Trusted sponsor”.
    •  Colleges will need to become accredited by a statutory education inspection body by the end of 2012.

    English Language requirements 

    • Students coming to study at degree level or above [level 6 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or level 8 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)] will need to speak English at an 'upper intermediate' (B2) level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), rather than the current 'lower intermediate' (B1) requirement. B1 is the appropriate level for lower courses, including the Pathways and must be assessed by means of a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
    • To get a visa, students whose Tier 4 sponsors are not ‘publicly-funded Higher Education institutions’ will have to present a test certificate from an independent test provider (SELT). There are some exceptions to this - if you are the national of a majority English speaking country, or have obtained a specific qualification in a majority English language speaking country, as stated in the Immigration Rules.

    Evidencing  student funding   

    • “Students with an Established Presence” - The lower financial maintenance requirements which applied to many students who were continuing studies in the UK has subtly but significantly changed. Students now need to show that, at the time of their application they have ‘current’ immigration permission to stay in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant or student under the "old Rules" (pre Tier 4) and have finished a single course of 6 months or more during this immigration permission, or be applying to continue your studies on a single course which you have already been following for 6 months or more.

    Switching Colleges

    • If a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor and made his/her last Tier 4 application before 5 October 2009 they will now be required to apply for permission from the UKBA if they have time left in their permission to stay, and want to do the same or a different course of study with a new Tier 4 sponsor.

    Further Changes to Tier 4 expected in the coming 12 months.

    • The UKBA will be introducing a streamlined process for low risk applicants going to Highly Trusted Sponsors, in general waiving the requirements to provide documents beyond the CAS and passport/ identity document.  This is based on robust supporting evidence of compliance and abuse.  This will bring about a system which is more targeted and responsive for both staff and applicants.
    • Only where students are undertaking postgraduate courses of 12 months or longer duration, will they be permitted for their families to join them as dependants. 
    • The right to work in the UK will be prohibited for students at private colleges (not universities and publicly-funded further education colleges)

    • Imposition of a five year limit to prevent students studying degree level courses for longer than five years. If this comes into effect there are likely to be exceptions for certain longer courses like medicine and architecture.

    Changes relating to Re-entry bans - reduced from 5 years to 2 years where individuals voluntarily return – April 2011

    • In certain circumstances where immigration offences have been committed, individuals may be banned from re-entering the UK up to 5 or 10 years, in addition to being refused their application for a visa or stay in the UK.

    • Under new rules (effective from 6th April 2011) where individuals voluntarily leave the UK promptly at public expense, they will have their re-entry ban reduced from 5 years to 2 years. The existing 5 year ban will continue where illegal migrants fail to depart within 6 months of the conclusion of any appeal against their immigration decision.
      INDEX

    Post-Study Work (PSW) to close from April 2012.

    Presently the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route enables students to apply for a further two years to seek employment after their course ends. The changes include:

    • Only graduates who have an offer of a skilled job from a sponsoring employer under Tier 2 of the points-based system will be able to stay to work.

    • Students will only be able to switch into PSW route where they apply before their student visa expires.

    • Those graduating from a UK university with a recognised degree, PGCE, or PGDE will be able to switch into Tier 2.

    • The normal Tier 2 requirements will apply, except for the Resident Labour Market Test.
      1. UKBA state they will ensure that genuine student entrepreneurs with a great idea are able to stay on in the UK to develop their business proposition.
        INDEX

    Changes relating to Re-entry bans - reduced from 5 years to 2 years where individuals voluntarily return – April 2011

    • In certain circumstances where immigration offences have been committed, individuals may be banned from re-entering the UK up to 5 or 10 years, in addition to being refused their application for a visa or stay in the UK.

    • Under new rules (effective from 6th April 2011) where individuals voluntarily leave the UK promptly at public expense, they will have their re-entry ban reduced from 5 years to 2 years. The existing 5 year ban will continue where illegal migrants fail to depart within 6 months of the conclusion of any appeal against their immigration decision.
      INDEX

    Changes affecting settlement applications - New criminality and income requirements – from 6th April 2011

    • The new changes require all applicants to be clear of unspent criminal convictions and also extends the income criteria that applies to those on a temporary route, so that it also applies when they apply for settlement, and to require such applicants to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test prior to gaining settlement, subject to some transitional provisions.
      1. Importantly Tier 1 (General) migrants must now meet the same income criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay in the UK. Migrants who have been in Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra company transfer), or who have held work permits, must be being paid the appropriate rate as stated in the Codes of Practice.
        INDEX

    Accreditation Requirements - Important news for Colleges and Universities under Tier 4.

    All sponsors must have been accredited by either Ofsted and its devolved equivalents, QAA, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate or the Schools Inspection Service and all must become Highly Trusted Sponsors.

    • Sponsors will be required to achieve Highly Trusted Status by April 2012, and accredited by a relevant agency by the end of 2012. They will be required to apply for HTS status and accreditation by a date to be specified. 
    • During the transition period there will be an interim limit on numbers sponsored by those who do not meet the above criteria.

    • Private providers will be able to provide courses, including pathway courses, by working in partnership and where the licensed sponsor takes responsibility and sponsors the student directly. 
      INDEX

    Faster routes for settlement for Investors and Entrepreneurs under Tier 1 – March 2011

    From 16.03.11 ...“Tier 1 is being refocused to provide a route for migrants that have real value to offer the UK”

    Presently, individuals who have invested £1million in the UK will continue to qualify for settlement after 5 years. 

    • Individuals who have invested £10million in the UK will now qualify for settlement after 2 years
    • Individuals who have invested £5million in the UK will now qualify for settlement after 3 years

    Allowable absences will be increased from 90 to 180 days - without affecting their right to settle here. 

    Prospective Entrepreneur visas under Tier 1

    • A new Prospective Entrepreneur visa is being introduced to allow entrepreneurs to come to the UK to secure funding. 
    • Successful entrepreneurs who create 10 full time jobs or have a turnover of £5million will be able to apply for settlement after 3 years.
    • The existing £200,000 funding threshold will be reduced to £50,000 where the funding was provided by a venture capitalist, a Government Department or a seed competition.
    • Up to two business partners will be able to use the route if they have equal access to the funding. 

    Switching in to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category will be allowed.  

    Exceptionally Talented Migrants under Tier 1

    • A new category for exceptionally talented migrants working in science or the arts will be introduced in Tier 1. Aimed at those who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities, the UKBA are yet to announce the details though have stated they will be applying a limit of 1,000 places in the first year.
      INDEX

    Closure of Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) – 10 March 2011

    • The Worker Registration Scheme will close on 30 April 2011. The Worker Registration Scheme is being closed because the terms of the Treaty of Accession mean that the United Kingdom cannot apply restrictions on access to the labour market to nationals of those Member States for more than seven years from the date of accession.
    • Under the WRS nationals of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia or Slovenia (“A8 nationals”) were previously required to register under the scheme before being permitted to enter into lawfully employment. Failure to do so affected their ability later to apply for permanent residence, amongst other things. 
    • As of 1st May 2011, this effectively enables A8 nationals access to the labour markets on the same terms as other EU nationals (except Bulgarians and Romanians). A8 work-seekers will also enjoy the same entitlements to out-of work benefits as other EU nationals.
      INDEX

    Tier 2 - skilled workers: Changes to Tier 2 (General) – limit on visas, changes to Shortage occupations list and Graduate level requirements started.  – March 2011.

    • From 6 April 2011 to 5 April 2012, a maximum limit of 20,700 skilled workers will be permitted to come to the UK under Tier 2 (General) to do jobs with an annual salary below £150,000. The limit will be operated on a monthly basis with applications prioritised according to scarcity of skills in the first instance and then according to salary. Scientists, academics and researchers will be afforded an additional premium.
    • There is no limit on the number of workers coming to the UK to do jobs with an annual salary of £150,000 or above.
    • The Tier 2 (General) route will be reserved for graduate level occupations only. The UKBA states they have already removed 71 professions from the list of 192 approved jobs under Tier 2 of the points-based system, deeming them to be ‘below the graduate level requirements.
    • The UKBA has also recently removed a further 8 occupations from it list of “Shortage occupations”. The list is used by the UKBA to identify jobs which they consider there to be not enough resident workers in the UK. A full review of the list is on-going and we are expecting further news on this soon.

    • A new minimum English language requirement for Tier 2 General raised to B1 on the CEFR scale. 
      INDEX

    Disclaimer: This article only provides general information and guidance on immigration law. It is not intended to replace the advice or services of a solicitor. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. The writer will not accept any liability for any claims or inconvenience as a result of the use of this information.

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The Right to Marry in the UK and Closure of the Certificate of Approval Scheme on 9th May 2011.
READ MORE


Changes to Student visas effective from 21 April 2011.
READ MORE

Changes relating to Re-entry bans - reduced from 5 years to 2 years where individuals voluntarily return – April 2011.
READ MORE

Post-Study Work (PSW) to close from April 2012.
READ MORE

Changes affecting settlement applications - New criminality and income requirements – from 6th April 2011.
READ MORE


Accreditation Requirements - Important news for Colleges and Universities under Tier 4.
READ MORE

Faster routes for settlement for Investors and Entrepreneurs under Tier 1 – March 2011.
READ MORE

Closure of Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) – 10 March 2011.
READ MORE

Tier 2 - skilled workers: Changes to Tier 2 (General) – limit on visas, changes to Shortage occupations list and Graduate level requirements started. – March 2011.
READ MORE

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