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What are the other changes to visa application system?

Published:Tuesday | May 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I have seen where there have been some recent changes to the tiers in the point based system. Have there been any other changes in other categories?

- M.T.

Dear M.T.,

There have been changes, with respect to 'visitors visas'. The new visitor route will allow a small group of professionals, artists, entertainers and sportspersons who are invited to go to the United Kingdom to undertake short-term permitted fee paid engagements for up to a month.

In addition, there have been changes to the 'overseas domestic workers'. There has been a restriction in that all overseas domestic workers (ODW) can only work for the employer with whom he or she entered the United Kingdom, or whom that person had gone there to join. Also, another change that has been instituted removes the right for all migrants under the ODW category to apply for settlement.

Furthermore, there has been a strengthening of the requirement for the employer of an ODW to provide evidence of an existing employer relationship, and there has been the introduction of a requirement for there to be an agreement that has written terms and conditions of employment to be produced, as part of the application for entry clearance. There was also special permission granted that permits all ODWs who have applied for leave to enter or remain on or before April 5, 2012, to continue to be treated under immigration rules in place on that date.

Other restrictions in this category restrict ODWs in private households from working for an employer who is a visitor to the United Kingdom. Permission to stay in the United Kingdom will be limited to a maximum of six months or the period of the employer's stay, whichever is shorter. In addition, there has also been a change that has removed the current provision that allows for ODWs to be accompanied by dependants. Also, permission has been given that permits ODWs in diplomatic households to apply to extend that person to stay for 12 months at a time, up to a maximum of five years, or the length of the diplomat's posting, or whichever is shorter.

There have been some positive changes for 'sponsors'. There has been an introduction of a Premium Customer Service for those A-rated sponsors in Tiers 2 and 5, who wish to apply and pay for a range of benefits. This service will be launched in the 2012-13 financial year.

It should also be noted that in addition to these changes, the government is also making amendments to the extension of leave to remain.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a chartered arbitrator. Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com