UKBA – “Hidden” changes

On 6 September 2013, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) published a new Statement of Changes to bring forward some key amendments to the Immigration Rules. However, these significant changes have not been publicized and as a result, they have failed to be given proper scrutiny.

Significantly, the UKBA intends to enforce a new genuineness test for Tier 1 and Tier 5 applications under the Points Based Scheme. This change intends to tackle abuse in particular by Tier 1 General applicants relying on earnings from self-employment.

In addition, the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test will be amended in line with the announcement made in April 2013.

Greater flexibility has been introduced to the visitor visa category, which in our experience tends to attract a fair number of refusals mostly based on the applicant’s intention. Thus, the permissible activities will be extended to include audits and corporate training provided by third parties. In addition, a visitor will be allowed to take courses incidental to his/her visit being able to undertake up to 30 hours of recreation, English language or academic study provided that this is not the main purpose of their visit.

However, there are few more changes hidden in the Rules. For starters, Tier 4 graduates who have completed their degrees in the UK will be allowed to undertake a 12 months internship under the Tier 5 Scheme– this change is meant to to fill-in the gap caused by the abolition Tier 1 Post Study Worker Scheme in April 2011.

In addition Hong Kong will be added to the list of the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Finally, the UKBA has decided to remove the prospective student category as of 1 October 2013. The Tier 4 student rules will also be amended to allow the UK  Border Agency to interview an applicant to be assess their ability to  communicate in English.