As international business returned to the office Monday morning, it discovered that the United Kingdom continued to move forward with both the April 6 scheduled changes to the highly-utilized Tier 2 immigration route and the country’s controversial “Brexit” from the European Union (EU). Pro-Link GLOBAL brings you up-to-date with the latest on both fronts below.
Official Home Office Statement of Changes Confirms April 6 Implementation
As we anticipated during Pro-Link GLOBAL’s in-depth webinar last week on the upcoming Tier 2 changes scheduled for final implementation on April 6, the Home Office has now issued their official Statement of Changes. (If you missed the live session last week, listen to the recording here) The Home Office’s statement now confirms the changes as described by Pro-Link GLOBAL in our Immigration Dispatch of March 13 with a few clarifications of note:
- Criminal Record Certificate (CRC) – Tier 2 applicants in 26 specific Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes within the health, education, and service industries and their adult dependents will still be required to provide CRCs for all countries where they have resided for more than 12 months in the previous 10 years. However, the Statement of Changes clarifies that this requirement may be waived if sufficient proof is provided to the Secretary of State showing that it is not reasonably practical for the applicant to obtain a CRC from the relevant authority.
- Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – Sponsors have been provided an additional exemption from RLMT requirements when assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a “high value business” to the UK or a significant new investment project. Note, however, to qualify for this exemption the sponsor must be a branch/subsidiary newly registered within the previous three years, and the investment must include capital expenditures of at least GBP £27 million and the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs.
- Immigration Skills Charge – As we’ve covered extensively, the new Immigration Skills Charge is a new levy that requires sponsoring companies to pay a new levy of GBP £1,000 per foreign employee per year at the time of the CoS allocation (for small businesses the charge is £364 per foreign employee per year). The Statement of Changes only confirms that if this charge is not paid in full, the CoS will be deemed invalid.
Brexit’s Article 50 to be Invoked on March 29 by Prime Minister May
As anticipated by Pro-Link GLOBAL in our Global Brief of March 8, Prime Minister Theresa May has now made it official that her administration will invoke Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty on March 29. The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, informed European Council President Donald Tusk of the UK’s intentions yesterday.
The immediate path ahead for both sides is expected to be as follows:
- March 29: Prime Minister May will issue a short statement confirming the country’s invocation of Article 50 and reiterate her administration’s objectives ahead. PM May will then address the House of Commons regarding the government’s plan for this process.
- March 31: President Tusk will present the drafted Brexit guidelines to the other 27 EU member states (EU27).
- Late April to Early May: Leaders of the EU27 member states are anticipated to gather at an ad hoc summit to draft a formal mandate for the Brexit proceedings.
- Mid-May to Early June: Formal negotiations between the UK and EU27 will officially begin.
Again, invocation of Article 50 will only begin the formal exit procedures and negotiations of the UK’s departure from the EU. Both sides have publicly stated that they wish for these negotiations to begin and conclude as soon as possible, but given that this departure is unprecedented, the process may very well drag on for quite some time as the other EU member states issue their formal responses. Under the Lisbon treaty, triggering Article 50 begins a two-year negotiation period during which the terms of exit and – most importantly – the future international agreements between the UK and its EU counterparts will theoretically be agreed upon.
A tangential but important piece to watch throughout these proceedings is whether Scotland, who overwhelming voted to remain in the EU by a 62/38 margin, will make any movement away from the UK and towards joining the EU on its own. As Stephen Gethins, a leader within the Scottish National Party, stated in response to May’s announcement, “Today’s announcement… shatters beyond repair any notion or position that the Prime Minister is seeking a UK-wide agreement.” Pro-Link GLOBAL is watching with concern to see if any new actions toward independence are taken by Scotland before or soon after the March 29 triggering of Article 50.
For more in-depth analysis on what Brexit means for UK immigration, see our comprehensive e-book and our Global Brief of June 27 on the subject. In addition, for practical analysis and recommended action steps for EU nationals currently residing in the UK, see our Global Brief of March 8. With momentum now increasing, Pro-Link GLOBAL is keeping a close eye on all the Brexit developments and will continue to provide further updates as they are made available.
How These Changes Affect You
This week’s Home Office Statement of Changes regarding the April 6 Tier 2 changes and PM May’s announcements on the official start of Brexit are significant steps on the road ahead for UK immigration.
Sponsoring employers in the UK should take close note of the upcoming April 6 changes – now just over two weeks away – as they will affect significant components of the Tier 2 immigration route, including but not limited to: document requirements, qualifying criteria, government fees, and the overall Tier 2 structure. A complete copy of the Statement of Changes can be found on the UK Home Office website here.
The Brexit proceedings have been exhaustively covered by news media and within the global visa and immigration industry, and rightfully so. The impact will be deep and far-reaching both in the United Kingdom and the European Union. As Brexit formalities now begin, and continue over the upcoming months, Pro-Link GLOBAL encourage the readers of our alerts to watch for continual updates as events unfold. To guarantee you never miss a critical update, you can subscribe to our free alerts here.
Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader
This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. We would like to remind you that Immigration laws are fluid and can change at a moment's notice without any warning. Please reach out to your immigration specialist or your client relations manager at Pro-Link GLOBAL should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by your Pro-Link GLOBAL Knowledge Management team.
Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.