Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013
Changes to Immigration Rules
New super-priority visa service for business visitors


Accession of Croatia (Immigration and Worker Authorisation) Regulations 2013

The government has formally completed ratification of the Croatian Accession Treaty and published the accompanying regulations, which came into force on July 1 2013. The regulations set out the requirements governing Croatian nationals' access to the UK labour market and largely confirm the proposals in the statement of intent published in October 2012 (for further details please see "Implications of Croatian accession to the European Union").

The regulations clarify that before commencing employment in the United Kingdom, unless one of the exempt categories applies, the Croatian national will require sponsorship and a certificate of sponsorship will need to be assigned. An application must then be submitted for a worker authorisation registration certificate, which will attract a fee of £55 (this was previously referred to as an 'accession worker registration certificate' in the statement of intent).

If the Croatian national ceases working for the employer for more than 30 days, the Home Office will revoke the worker authorisation registration certificate. Potential penalties for non-compliance with the authorisation process are severe: employers found to be employing a Croatian national without this document will be liable to a prison sentence of up to 51 weeks for employers in England and Wales or six months for employers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, or a fine, or both. For Croatian nationals found to be working without this document, there is a fixed penalty fine of £1,000 and potential imprisonment for up to three months.

Changes to Immigration Rules

A number of minor changes to the Immigration Rules came into force on July 1 2013. They include the following:

  • Changes have been made to the documents required for approved English language tests.
  • Clarification has been provided that the term 'regulated financial institutions' means those regulated to provide personal savings accounts or student loans.
  • More legal courses are now exempt from the time limit on study for Tier 4 student visas.
  • A resident labour market test is not needed for applications for a religious worker (Tier 5) extension.

In addition, tuberculosis testing has been introduced for a number of additional countries, including China and Hong Kong. However, in these countries it will apply only for settlement applications.

New super-priority visa service for business visitors

The Home Office has started a pilot same-day super-priority visa service, which it hopes to roll out more widely, including in the United States. The first pilot programme has been introduced in India for the same-day processing of business visitor visa applications for those meeting the eligibility criteria. The fee for the service is equivalent to £600 (including local taxes), in addition to the standard visa fee. The Home Office has confirmed that its target is to process super-priority visa applications on the same day that they are received. To use this service, applicants must book an appointment and visit the New Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai visa application centre between 8:00am and 9:30am, Monday to Friday; the appointment can be booked online. Biometric information will need to be provided during the appointment. Before the appointment, it will be necessary to complete the online application form and ensure that all necessary documents to support the application are taken to the appointment.

In order to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants must:

  • be applying for a six-month or two-year multiple-entry visitor visa (excluding student visit visas), and have travelled without difficulty in the past five years to the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada or a Schengen country; or
  • be an employee of a company or business that is a member of the Business Express Programme (managed by UK Trade and Investment in India) and be travelling as an official business visitor.

Applicants are advised to read and sign the terms and conditions before applying, and must submit the signed copy with their visa application. The Home Office advises that those with an adverse immigration history should not use this service (eg, where a business visitor visa application has been refused in the past).

There are plans to roll out this service in the United States later this year.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email (idesousa@kingsleynapley.co.uk). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.

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