The UK Government has published its most recent changes to the UK Immigration Rules, which are due to come into effect on 6 July 2018. As widely reported, these changes include the removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 (General) Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship limit, at least temporarily. However, they also include other changes which will affect a number of non-EEA nationals who are currently in the UK under other economic migration categories.
In relation to doctors and nurses, the new Rules do not exempt all roles within the medical profession from the Tier 2 (General) Limit. Although it does exempt those who fall under the Medical Practitioners and Nurses Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes, it does not cover a number of other positions in medicine such as those that fall under the Medical Radiographer and Paramedics SOC codes which are also recognised as jobs which require skills which are in short supply. The removal of Medical Practitioners and Nurses will certainly take some of the pressure off the limit. However, on the basis of the numbers that are currently applying, it is still likely that demand will continue to exceed supply. Consequently, other industries, such as the tech sector, will continue to struggle to bring in non-EEA nationals to fill positions where they cannot find a local worker with the required skills, qualifications and experience to undertake certain roles.
The Home Office has also made some changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) category which is likely to make it more challenging to manage the minimum £2m investment in the UK which is required to satisfy the requirements of this route. The Home Office has also increased the burden on financial institutions in relation to the checks that they have to undertake in relation to the investments.
On a more positive note, the Home Office has introduced the ability for Turkish nationals who are in the UK under the Turkish Worker and Businessperson routes to apply for indefinite leave to remain ("ILR") (also known as settlement or permanent residence). However, it is important to note that this new route is less generous than the one which was previously in place for Turkish Businesspersons.
Furthermore, following changes that the Home Office made in January 2018 to the way it calculates continuous residence for the purposes of ILR, it has now introduced some transitional provisions. This means that those who applied for their immigration permission before January 2018 will be able to benefit from the previous, more generous provisions. However, it is still not entirely clear how these transitional provisions will work in practice.
Consequently, it can be seen that these changes to the Immigration Rules demonstrate that, due to public pressure, the UK Government is taking a more liberal approach in some categories while tightening the provisions in other areas. We now await the publication of the UK Government's guidance on these new Rules, which is likely to be issued on 6 July, for further information on how they will be applied in practice.