There are a number of key immigration developments within the pipeline that are prone to have an effect on UK employers. Right here’s what it’s essential to know:
6 February 2024: Visa Software prices improve
The Immigration Well being Surcharge is rising from £624 to £1,035 per yr for many grownup UK visa purposes from as we speak, 6 February 2024. For under-18s, college students and Youth Mobility Scheme candidates, the decrease price will improve from £470 to £776 per yr.
13 February 2024: Improve to Civil Penalties for unlawful working
Employer fines are rising from £15,000 to £45,000 for a primary breach of part 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 which covers any worker discovered to be working with out a legitimate visa or working in breach of their visa situations. For subsequent breaches, the high quality triples from £20,000 to £60,000 a time for every worker. The elevated fines will solely apply to breaches occurring on or after 13 February. Our earlier weblog discusses protecting measures employers ought to take to make sure compliance.
22 February 2024: Digital Journey Authorisation required for sure nationalities
The House Workplace is phasing in an Digital Journey Authorisation (ETA) scheme for guests who don’t already want a visa for brief stays to the UK, or who don’t have already got a UK immigration standing previous to travelling. On 1 February 2024, the scheme opened for nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, all of whom would require an ETA to journey to the UK from 22 February 2024. Qatari nationals already want an ETA. Functions can already be submitted on-line or by way of an app right here. Different nationalities can’t and don’t want to use but – additional updates will probably be supplied all through 2024.
23 February 2024: MAC to evaluate Scarcity Occupation Record
The House Secretary has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to hold out a evaluate of the brand new Immigration Wage Record (changing the present Scarcity Occupation Record) by 23 February 2024 to suggest which roles must be included on the brand new listing in time for its implementation and different modifications to the Expert Employee route from 4 April. There isn’t any provision (and inadequate time) for employer session concerning which roles must be included. The MAC has additionally been requested to evaluate the Graduate visa path to “stop abuse, shield the integrity and high quality of UK greater schooling and guarantee it really works in the most effective pursuits of the UK” however no date has been set for modifications to this route.
14 March 2024: New Immigration Guidelines printed
New Immigration Guidelines will probably be laid earlier than Parliament offering much-needed element on a lot of the modifications introduced in early December 2023 in addition to the brand new Immigration Wage Record. The House Workplace has since suggested that the deliberate wage threshold improve shouldn’t have an effect on these already within the Expert Employee route after they change sponsor, lengthen their visas, or settle (though thresholds for these purposes are prone to improve reasonably on the similar price as salaries for resident staff, in keeping with present observe). Nonetheless, employers nonetheless urgently want affirmation that the decrease New Entrant wage price will proceed to use to, amongst others, Graduate and Scholar visa holders and people beneath the age of 26 on the date of software, in addition to the extent of that decrease price. The brand new Immigration Guidelines will take impact usually from 4 April.
4 April 2024: Expert Employee Visa Modifications come into drive together with:
Improve to the final wage threshold from £26,200 to £38,700 for brand new candidates to the Expert Employee route on or after 4 April
Elimination of the 20% going price low cost for occupations on the Scarcity Occupation Record and the contents of its substitute, the Immigration Wage Record
Will increase to the annual going charges for particular person occupations eligible beneath the Expert Employee route.
6 April 2024: No must renew sponsor licences
In a uncommon piece of constructive immigration-related information, sponsors with licences expiring on or after 6 April have been informed by way of a observe on the Sponsor Administration System that the House Workplace has eliminated the requirement to resume their sponsor licence or pay a renewal payment. People who have already paid to resume will obtain a refund. For these fortunate sponsors, the House Workplace has already prolonged licence expiry dates by 10 years (this may be considered by logging in to the Sponsor Administration System and viewing the Licence Abstract web page). Much less lucky sponsors with licences expiring earlier than 6 April this yr will nonetheless have to use to increase earlier than their licence expiry date and won’t be entitled to a refund.
While it is a welcome growth, the licence renewal course of has usually been a smart level at which (and well timed reminder) to undertake an inside immigration audit in anticipation of a House Workplace compliance go to. Our view is that the elimination of the renewal course of will liberate assets to extend the quantity House Workplace compliance visits in keeping with the federal government’s said intention “to seek the advice of on choices to strengthen motion in opposition to licensed companies who’re using unlawful staff”. Sponsors ought to due to this fact proceed to make sure that they’re absolutely ready for a House Workplace compliance go to which may happen at any time, whether or not on discover or unannounced.
By 31 December 2024: expiry of Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)
The House Workplace is steadily digitising the UK immigration system. An rising variety of candidates are already issued with e-visas however a lot of these with bodily BRPs can have seen an expiry date of 31 December 2024 even when their immigration permission is legitimate for an extended interval or they’re already settled and not topic to UK immigration management. From 1 January 2025, BRP holders will be capable of show their immigration standing on-line, with out a BRP. The House Workplace has stated that it is going to be contacting BRP holders all through 2024 asking them to register for a UVKI account (in the event that they don’t maintain one already) to entry their immigration standing particulars on-line. BRP holders don’t must take any motion within the meantime.
2025: ETIAS (the EU model of Digital Journey Authorisation)
ETIAS journey authorisation is an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals travelling to any of those 30 European international locations. Though initially envisaged to launch in 2024, ETIAS is at present not in operation and no purposes can at present be made. Updates will probably be printed right here.
When you have any questions on these modifications, please contact your normal Squire Patton Boggs enterprise immigration group member or Annabel Mace, associate and Head of UK Immigration. Even higher, please hear and subscribe to our Workforce Worldview podcast collection beginning with our first episode Deliberate Immigration Modifications for 2024.