Kerman & Co announces appointment of Head of Immigration

January 15, 2018

Stephen has 10 years’ experience working at top ranked immigration firms in London, advising on the full range of immigration applications.

Kerman & Co is delighted to announce the appointment of Stephen Hall as the firm’s new Head of Immigration. Stephen has 10 years’ experience working at top ranked immigration law firms in London, advising on the full range of immigration applications.

Stephen specialises in UK immigration for corporate clients, and also handles complex private client cases including British nationality and applications under European Law. With Brexit scheduled for March 2019 and the Conservative government clamping down on immigration numbers of the UK, Stephen is involved in lobbying on behalf of businesses and providing high level strategic thinking for the future of UK immigration.

This appointment complements the firm’s existing Employment practice, with the firm now able to support clients with all their employment and immigration legal requirements.

Managing Partner, Daniel O’Connell commented “With our strong international corporate and commercial practice, Stephen’s appointment represents an excellent fit with our strategy. Clients are increasingly developing a diverse and mobile workforce, which our advice can support in the recruitment and retention of the brightest and best global talent.”

Partner and Head of Employment, Jonathan Bruck added “We are delighted to welcome Stephen to Kerman & Co. His experience will provide real added value to employers, in helping them to navigate the complex UK immigration rules and the changing Brexit landscape.”

Below, Stephen has summarised the most recent domestic immigration rule changes that came into effect on 11 January 2018:

New Year Immigration Rule Changes

Tier 2 work visas – some good news:

  • If you wish to offer a permanent role to a student currently in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa, you no longer need to wait until they have received their final results (which can take months). There is now more flexibility and you can sponsor the student on a Tier2 (General) visa as soon as they have completed the course.
  • Tier 2 visa holders no longer need to be continuously employed throughout the “5-year period” required to apply for settlement, Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.  This is especially important for employees who may have switched employers in the UK while on visas. The previous rule was very strict and only allowed 60 days to switch visas and maintain continuous employment. This new change will be welcomed by your Tier 2 employees wishing to settle in the UK.
  • The Home Office have also clarified that an employer cannot delay the start date of any Tier 2 (General) visa holder for more than 28 days once the visa has been granted. It is now even more important to discuss UK start dates for visa holders with the individual employee and their line manger to get this start date as accurate and realistic as possible.

 

Absence requirements for Settlement (ILR) application – more careful consideration required on two points:

Family members – You should be aware that the residence requirements for partners of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa holders are changing. In the past only the main applicant needed to show they had not been absent for more than 180 days in any 12-month period to obtain settlement (ILR) after 5 years. The rule now applies to spouses, civil partners and unmarried partners of those people on Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas. The rule change is not retrospective, but will affect partners who are granted a visa or extend their visa after 11 January 2018. One of the main reasons why international assignments fail is due to the family unit not being considered, therefore our advice is to communicate this change to your migrant workforce. For most of your migrant workforce the change will not affect them, as the partners will be living and spending most of their time in the UK. However, for your employees whose partners spend most of the year outside the UK they need to consider their future plans as a matter of urgency.

Method of calculating absences – Prior to 11 January, the requirement was to have no more than 180 days absences in each of the five 12 month periods preceding the date of their application. There has been a minor, but important change to the wording, and the rule is now to have no more than 180 days absence during any 12-month period in the five years. This change is retrospective and needs to be considered by your employees immediately. In the past we have only had to look at the “365 day blocks” counting back and if required could split large absences into different blocks. This move to a rolling 12-month period may cause issues for senior staff who travel regularly outside the UK, or people who have a one off large absence and were planning to split the absence into two blocks, as this is no longer possible.

 

Other changes

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) –  This category is for leaders in the fields of the arts, science, humanities, engineering, medicine and digital technology. Applicants must be endorsed by the relevant body, i.e. the Arts Council, The British Academy, Tech City etc. There are a limited number of endorsements allowed per year. The number of available endorsements/visas under this category has increased from 1000 to 2000 per year. This is a welcome change, and a good option for any talented individuals.

Electronic visas – The Home Office has also announced it will be trialling electronic visas instead of the usual stamp placed in the passport. This will mean that right to work checks and HR onboarding processes might need to be tweaked. Usually an employer would take a copy of the visa in the passport prior to the first day of work.

 

Please contact Stephen if you would like any further information.

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