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Immigration Health Surcharge increase – one month to go

On 11 October 2018, the House of Commons introduced the Immigration (Health Charge) (Amendment) Order 2018, which seeks to double the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) from £200 per visa applicant, per year of visa validity, to £400 per visa applicant, per year of visa validity. The increase is set to come into effect in December 2018, subject to Parliamentary approval. This is particularly relevant to employers who provide Tier 2 sponsorship to non-EEA nationals. To minimise the impact of the IHS increase, employers should review their pipeline of new applications and in-country extensions and consider applying before the increase takes effect.
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Immigration Health Surcharge increase – one month to go

Mergers and acquisitions post completion immigration actions

Where an organisation has a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence to employ non-EEA workers they have a responsibility to report to the Home Office when certain events occur. Examples include where the organisation moves premises, changes its name, or there is a merger, takeover, de-merger or, more generally, any transaction where there is a change of ownership.

Even though we are approaching the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of Tier 2, there continues to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the sponsor licence reporting process, especially in relation to transactions. With strict deadlines for reporting (20 days from the date the event occurs) it is critical to understand the events that need to be reported, and any additional actions you must complete.

Preparation in advance of a transaction is key – if you only start assessing the necessary actions once a transaction has completed it is usually too late and there is a risk that the deadline will be missed. This could jeopardise the immigration status of any sponsored employees and your ability to sponsor employees in the future.

The questions you need to ask to determine necessary actions are:

  1. What type of transaction is taking place – is it a merger, acquisition, demerger, share sale?
  2. What entities are involved and do they currently have a Tier 2 sponsor licence?
  3. Will there be a change in the direct ownership of the sponsor licence entity, or will the change in ownership be higher up the chain?
  4. Will TUPE apply?
  5. Who are the Tier 2 visa holders impacted by the transaction?
  6. Will there be secondary changes now or in the future that need to be reported, for example will there be a change to the name or location of the organisation?

Depending on the responses to these questions the necessary actions in relation to the organisation could be as simple as a short report to the Home Office, or as complex as needing to apply for a new Tier 2 sponsor licence. In respect of each employee with a Tier 2 visa, again it may be as simple as a short report to the Home Office or as complex as each employee needing to apply for a new visa (which they may not be eligible for).

In addition, a new right to work check needs to be completed for any employee who TUPE transfers into your organisation.

Given the complexities in identifying the necessary actions, the strict timeframes with which to comply, and the negative impact of making an error, it is critical to think about immigration early on in the corporate deal.

A final point to consider is that, if the transaction includes operations outside the UK, similar immigration compliance actions may be required in each location, adding to the overall complexity and risk position.

Mergers and acquisitions post completion immigration actions

Croatian workers restrictions lifted

In a written statement to Parliament earlier this week, Caroline Nokes (the Minister of State for Immigration) announced that the transitional restrictions on Croatian workers would not be extended and will come to an end on 30 June 2018. The significance of this is that Croatian citizens will now be able to seek work in the UK on the same basis as citizens from other EU member states.
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Croatian workers restrictions lifted

Brexit immigration update: agreement reached on the transition period

The EU and UK held a joint press conference yesterday to announce that they had reached agreement on a number of key areas in the Brexit negotiations. Most notably for employers in the UK, the length of the transition period has been agreed, as well as key features of the process and timing for EU nationals in the UK to apply for residence documentation.

This latest announcement gives employers the certainty they need to start planning for the Brexit transition, including supporting their employees through the application process for residence documentation.


Brexit immigration update: agreement reached on the transition period

GDPR deadline looms: Are your immigration data processes compliant?

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) presents a huge challenge for employers in many data processing scenarios. With the implementation date less only 10 weeks away employers should consider their immigration data processes which understandably deal with considerable personal date. This article, by UK Head of Immigration Jessica Pattinson highlights on a few common immigration scenarios that need to be dealt with from a GDPR perspective.


GDPR deadline looms: Are your immigration data processes compliant?

Brexit work permit crisis set to be the new normal

Scotland (and the whole of the UK) is facing a labour and skills crisis, as Britain’s work permit system was simply not designed to cope with the impact Brexit is already having on the labour market. With more EU nationals leaving the UK and fewer arriving, employers are having to look beyond the EU to fill vacancies, but are struggling to get work permits, as the limited number available is being allocated to employers able to pay above the current salary threshold of £50,000 a year.



Brexit work permit crisis set to be the new normal

Brexit latest – EU nationals who arrive during the post Brexit transition period can stay

On 28 February 2018 the UK government announced that EU nationals who arrive in the UK after Brexit Day (29 March 2019), but before the end of the so-called “implementation” or “transition” period, will be able to stay permanently. This is a shift from the UK’s previous position that arrivals after Brexit Day would be entitled to remain on a temporary basis only and become subject to immigration controls at the end of the transition period. While this announcement brings the UK closer to the EU’s stance on this matter, there are still some fundamental differences to be negotiated.

Overall this is positive news for employers, especially those who rely on EU talent, who will now have a longer period to build new talent pipelines to replace workers from the EU.

However, this concession may have come too late for some employers who have already lost valuable talent due to a general feeling of uncertainty among EU nationals and negativity around citizens’ rights. It remains to be seen whether this latest shift in negotiating position will be enough to convince EU nationals that the UK remains an attractive destination to work and build a career.

The UK’s original position was partly based on an assumption that EU nationals would rush to move to the UK before a given cut-off date. The dramatic fall in net migration from the EU since the referendum shows that there was never a risk of this happening.

EU nationals who arrive in the UK during the transition period will be subject to a registration system in line with what is already common practice in other EU member states. After accumulating five years’ residence in the UK an EU national will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which will allow them to live in the UK permanently.

It should be noted that ILR is not the same as “settled status”, which EU nationals who arrive before Brexit Day will be able to apply for. The application process for ILR usually requires the applicant to satisfy minimum salary requirements, demonstrate English language ability and pass the life in the UK test. ILR is also more restrictive than settled status, for example the holder of ILR will lose this status if they are absent from the UK for a period of two years, while for the holder of settled status, absence up to five years is permitted. It remains to be seen what the qualifying criteria for ILR in this situation will be, and whether a special procedure will be established that is more closely aligned to settled status.

Looking to the future, employers should also be encouraged by the following section of the announcement, which relates to a new immigration framework to be implemented post Brexit:

“… leaving the EU does not mean the end of migration between the EU and the UK. The new framework will therefore be designed to support the UK economy, enable businesses and key public sector workforces such as the National Health Service to access the skills they need, and underpin our trading relationships with partners in Europe and around the world.”

To assist our clients in navigating the complexities of Brexit we have published a comprehensive guide: Immigration and Brexit: Guide for UK-based EU nationals. The guide includes information on how EU nationals will be affected by Brexit and what can be done now in preparation. If you would like to discuss how Dentons can help you prepare for Brexit, and receive a copy of the guide, please do get in touch.

Brexit latest – EU nationals who arrive during the post Brexit transition period can stay

Introducing our Immigration Practice

Immigration continues to be an area of focus for our clients as they adjust to the changing landscape brought on by Brexit, while continuing to manage a growing list of routine immigration compliance responsibilities and issues.

We understand the pressures on employers and the need for practical immigration advice and tips, information on changes and how to manage them, and commentary on future policy development and potential issues. To assist our clients and contacts we will be sharing regular immigration news updates, editorials on topics such as Brexit and immigration policy developments, upcoming deadlines and changes to be aware of, as well as invites to immigration seminars, training sessions and roundtable events.

In this immigration news update we have a news round-up, dates for your diary and employer actions, and the latest on Brexit.



Introducing our Immigration Practice

Brexodus continues…

Net migration from the EU has plummeted from 165,000 in 2016 to 90,000 in 2017

As expected, in the latest statistics released by the Office of National Statistics today, net migration from the EU has plummeted, with fewer EU nationals moving to the UK and more leaving:

2016 2017
EU nationals who immigrated to the UK 268,000 220,000
EU nationals who emigrated from the UK 103,000 130,000
Net migration +165,000 +90,000

This is of significant concern to industries and sectors that rely heavily on EU talent, with health and medical services, and farming and agriculture already dealing with considerable labour shortages.

The UK will officially leave the EU on 29 March 2019, and even though this is still over 12 months away, employers are already feeling the impact.

The other interesting statistic released today is the huge increase in EU nationals applying for British citizenship. In 2016 15,460 EU nationals applied for British citizenship – following the Brexit referendum this number more than doubled to 38,528 in 2017.

What we can take from both of these statistics is that the lack of certainty in citizens’ rights and future immigration policy following Brexit is forcing individuals to consider and protect their position in the UK. At one end of the spectrum we can see that EU nationals are securing their rights in the UK by naturalising as a British citizen, and at the other end EU nationals are reassessing whether the UK is the place to establish a life and career in the first place. Without certainty on citizens’ rights and future immigration policy we can expect these statistics to continue on the same trajectory.

Brexodus continues…