Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 437 has been published. Most of the changes are fairly minor or technical but not all. From the explanatory notes:
The purpose of these changes is to:
- implement section 53(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (“the 2015 Act”) which provides that the Immigration Rules must make provision for leave to remain in the United Kingdom to be granted to an overseas domestic worker who has been determined to be a victim of slavery or human trafficking. The changes also make a number of minor changes to the existing Immigration Rules applied to overseas domestic workers;
- make a minor change to the rules for visitors;
- make minor changes to improve the operation of the Tier 2 (General) limit; and
- enable Vietnamese diplomatic passport holders to travel visa free to the UK as a visitor for official purposes, for tourism or for the purpose of “visit in transit”.
The visit rule changes are very minor. The rules are adjusted to reflect the change of name of the Belfast International Arts Festival in the list of Permit Free Festivals and changes are also made to enable Vietnamese nationals who hold diplomatic passports issued by Vietnam to travel to the UK visa free as a visitor for official purposes, for tourism or for the purpose of “visit in transit”, and to annotate the rules to show that this is an exception to the visa requirement for nationals or citizens of Vietnam. A similar annotation is made in respect of South Africa. The rules change for all applications immediately from 8 October 2015.
The changes to the Tier 2 skilled worker rules are designed to leave the limit of 20,700 places per year in place but make maximum use of it. The changes introduce smaller salary bands in order to maximise the monthly allocation of places and also allow the Secretary of State to reclaim Certificates of Sponsorship which are unused by Sponsors before they expire (after three months), and return those unused places to the limit. The new approach applies to decisions made on or after 12 October 2015.
The provision for domestic workers who are determined to be a victim of slavery or human trafficking are somewhat lacking in generosity. All that is provided for is a maximum additional stay of 6 months
to enable overseas domestic workers who have been determined to be a victim of slavery or human trafficking to continue to work as a domestic worker, and to change employer, for a period of time in order to be able to earn some money to assist in rebuilding their lives when they return overseas.
There is no route to settlement provided.
To make an application, the applicant must already have received a positive conclusive grounds decision made by a competent authority under the National Referral Mechanism and must be made within 28 days of such a decision (or if an immigration application is pending then 28 days after that decision is received). The applicant must be able to maintain and accommodate him or herself, will receive a “no recourse to public funds” condition and will be limited to working as a domestic worker in a private or diplomatic household.
The new domestic worker rules are about as begrudging as can be imagined considering what the victim will have been through. They apply to new applications on or after 15 October 2015.