New developments include the Migration Advisory Committee announcing its findings regarding Tier 2 of the Points-Based System, a requirement for private landlords to conduct right-to-rent checks, and changes to UK immigration application fees.

MAC Announces Its Findings Regarding Tier 2

The UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its findings on Tier 2 of the Points-Based System. In reviewing Tier 2, the MAC sought to balance the Government’s objective to reduce volumes with its desire to ensure that Tier 2 remains open to the “brightest and best workers who will help Britain succeed”.

The MAC has made the following recommendations to the Government:

  • The best way for the Government to achieve its aim to restrict volumes under Tier 2 and focus on more highly skilled migrants is through salary thresholds, and the minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 should be increased from £20,800 to £30,000
  • The minimum qualifying period for Tier 2 long-term and short-term Intra-Company Transfers should be increased from 12 months to 24 months
  • The cost of Tier 2 recruitment should be raised by introducing an annual Immigration Skills Charge that would be payable by Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders
  • The use of the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) route for third-party contracting should be moved into a separate immigration category with a higher salary threshold of £41,500
  • Tier 2 (General) is not restricted only to occupations on an expanded shortage occupation list
  • The Government should not restrict automatic work rights for dependants or an automatic sun-setting of occupations on the shortage occupation list

We are waiting to hear whether the Government will adopt these recommendations in full and how they will apply to Tier 2 migrants in practice. We will release an additional LawFlash once the Government announces the changes to the immigration rules.

Right-to-Rent Checks

Starting 1 February 2016, all private landlords will be required to conduct right-to-rent checks and to request documents that confirm prospective tenants’ right to reside in the UK. Individuals must provide evidence of their right to rent in the UK up to 28 days before their tenancy’s start date.

Where employees move or transfer from overseas and have not yet travelled to the UK, a landlord can elect to enter into a “conditional agreement” in which an individual provides evidence of his or her right to rent after arrival and before occupying a property. Individuals who provide a Biometric Residence Permit as evidence of their right to rent in the UK will need to present the permit to their landlord before they can occupy a property.

The following agreements will be exempt from the right-to-rent checks:

  • Long leases that grant a right of occupation for a term of seven or more years
  • Existing tenants and occupiers who moved in before the requirements were introduced
  • Tenancies renewed between the same parties at the same property without a break, where the start of a tenancy predates the requirements

Changes to UK Immigration Application Fees

The UK Government recently set out proposed changes that will take effect beginning 6 April 2016 to the fees for visas, immigration and nationality applications, and associated premium services, with the aim to make the services self-funded by those who use them over the next four years. The changes include the following:

  • Entry clearance fees for Tier 2 will rise from £564 to £575 for a three-year visa and from £1,128 to £1,151 for a five-year visa
  • In-country further leave to remain will rise from £651 to £664 for a three-year visa and from £1,302 to £1,328 for a five-year visa; the same fees will be charged for each dependant
  • Same-day processing for in-country applications will increase from £400 to £500
  • Fees for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) will rise from £1,500 to £1,875 per applicant—if same-day processing is required, each applicant will now need to pay £2,375
  • Fees for all sponsor licensing applications will stay at the current rates

Fees for all sponsor licensing applications will remain at the current rates.

View a comprehensive table that details of the indicative fees.