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Immigration law - what to expect in 2018

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With the UK in the midst of negotiations with the EU, the future of employment regulations and immigration rules following Brexit remain unclear. The outcome could seriously impact on many individuals and businesses in the UK.

There have been many changes to immigration rules in recent years, including significant changes introduced in January 2018.

In December 2017, changes to the immigration rules HC309 was handed to Parliament which have now come into effect. Their main purpose is to:

  • Take account of the future commencement of the immigration bail provisions in Schedule 10 to the Immigration Act 2016
  • Provide for entry clearance to be issued electronically
  • Allow standard and marriage/civil partnership visit visa holders to transit using the same visa
  • Clarify and remove inconsistencies from the rules relating to indefinite leave to remain for main applicants and their dependants in work categories
  • Double the number of available places in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to 2,000, and allow accelerated settlement for certain applicants
  • Consolidate and clarify the rules for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants
  • Make new Tier 2 provisions for research positions and for students switching from Tier 4.

The changes are designed to create a more streamlined system for entry into the country which is easier to understand, especially for Tier 1 applicants wanting to work in the UK.

Looking ahead, April is always a key date for businesses that employ foreign nationals. This is because any changes for Tier 2 visas normally come into force at the start of the financial year. If that could affect your business, make sure you stay up to date.

As 2018 progresses, we can expect to know more about the government plans to handle immigration. However, the White Paper scheduled for Autumn 2017 did not materialise and a specific date for further announcements is hard to pin down. Any updates will be keenly followed by EU citizens, foreign nationals, businesses employing foreign workers, and those with family members with foreign nationality alike.

Businesses should take specialist advice on immigration if they employ a foreign national, whether or not they are an EU national, or intend to in the future. An immigration solicitor can advise them on the current status of their employees, what they need to do to ensure they comply with the law even if you don’t employ any foreign nationals and avoid discriminating on grounds of race or nationality in the process and highlight imminent legal changes. They can also give you the information you need on sponsorship if required.