The UK immigration rules rarely stand still and new changes have already been introduced in 2017. In this blog, we outline some immigration rule changes involving the Immigration Health Surcharge, criminal record checks and document retention.

Immigration Health Surcharge changes

Applicants applying for entry clearance or limited leave to remain under the Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) route will soon be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). No date has yet been confirmed as to when this will be implemented, but it is expected to be early in 2017.

The IHS was first introduced in April 2015 for all migrants applying for entry clearance or limited leave to remain in the UK for more than six months. At this time, Tier 2 (intra-company transfer) migrants were exempt from payment of the Surcharge.

The IHS will also apply to each dependant of the main applicant applying to enter or remain in the UK. The charge is currently set at £200 per annum and will be payable at the visa application stage for the duration of the visa granted.

So, for a five year visa, the IHS charge will be £1,000 for the main applicant and £1,000 for each dependant.

Where a migrant is applying for a period which incorporates part of a year, 50% will be payable for six months or less and the full annual amount will be payable for over six months. The following are examples of how the pro-rated surcharge will be applied:

  • Visa duration of 25-30 months – surcharge of £500 is payable
  • Visa duration of 31-36 months – surcharge of £600 is payable

Those Sponsors who are already familiar with the IHS scheme will be aware of the shortcomings of the payment process and the fact that from time to time refunds will need to be processed. This is due to the fact that the system has a number of default settings and is therefore unable to produce accurate demands for payment in some cases.

Criminal record checks required for some Tier 2 migrants

In our update on 22 December 2016, we notified that with effect from 6 April 2017, some categories of Tier 2 migrants and their adult dependants will be required to obtain criminal record checks from each country where they have resided for 12 months or more, when applying for entry clearance. This will only be applicable for those Tier 2 migrants working in roles typically but not exclusively found in the public sector, including the medical profession, teaching and social services.

Document retention rules relaxed

Tier 2 Sponsors will be aware of the need to retain relevant documents relating to their sponsored migrant workforce. The rules were recently relaxed with regard to the length of time the documents need to be retained. The required timeframe is now for one year following the end of the sponsorship or until the documents have been viewed by a compliance officer, whichever is the shorter. This is a helpful change from the previous position whereby documents needed to be retained for at least a year and often longer if a compliance visit had not taken place. The change in the rules avoids the need to retain all the documentation indefinitely, pending a compliance visit.

However, you should note that this does not apply to any documentary records which have been created following the completion of the right to work checks; these need to be retained for at least two years following the termination of employment.