A new "genuine vacancy" test will be added to applications for visas under Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) with effect from 6 November. The test will enable UK Visas and Immigration to refuse applications if it reasonably believes:
- the job is not genuine;
- the job has been built up to meet the standards required under Tier 2;
- the job has been tailored to exclude resident (i.e. EEA) workers;
- the applicant is not qualified to do the job.
It is not clear how the test will operate (well of course not, it doesn’t come in for another 2 weeks). I anticipate UKVI will call for more details of skills required for roles and require employers to justify these skills. Also that applicants will be more closely scrutinised. I expect this to become a much stricter form of Resident Labour Market Test which in itself seems fair enough. However in practice it is likely to significantly increase application processing times. Employers who make use of Tier 2 can expect increased bureaucracy and delay.
Other changes on 6 November are an increase in the investment threshold under Tier 1 (Investor) from £1m to £2m and a rise in the actual investment requirement from 75% to 100%. There will also be a new "genuine investor" test under which UKVI will refuse applications if it has reasonable grounds for believing a third party is fronting the investment funds, if the funds were obtained unlawfully or the character, conduct or associations of a funding provider make approving the application contrary to the public good. Again, this doesn't seem unreasonable but it remains to be seen how UKVI will go about vetting applicants and their associates.
The two new credibility tests follow the introduction of a "genuine entrepreneur" test under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) last year and it's interesting to see the return of subjective elements to conditions which were intended to be entirely objective. You might think this has something to do with the Prime Minister's announcement on Wednesday that "the buck stops with me" or that UKIP's influence on government policy is now being seen. I couldn’t possibly comment - other than to observe that immigration policy still doesn’t recognise the "genuine need" of many British businesses for a free flow of people and ideas from across the world.