The stated objective of the Points Based System (PBS) was to simplify the immigration rules by recategorising eighty different immigration routes which were previously open to migrants to enter the UK. However, contrary to the expectation of simplicity, the PBS has proved to be a monumentally bureaucratic exercise which, rather than including applicants whose matters are outside the immigration rules, is aimed at excluding those applicants in the UK who do not have some form of leave to remain.
Further to all the changes to the rules which the Tier system has witnessed over lately, the UKBA has yet again published “refined criteria” which will be applied to Tier 2 (General) sponsors’ requests for additional certificates of sponsorship from 25 October 2010. The form can be accessed here.
It is the Agency’s case that the “criteria have been refined to give sponsors greater certainty, by ensuring all requests will be approved if they relate to an extension for a work permit holder or Tier 2 (General) worker already employed by a sponsor.”
But thus far the problem with the Coalition government’s approach to Tier 2 (General) has been its inability to incorporate sections in the above CoS(AR) form which represent an appropriate area in relation to the switching mechanism which Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa holders enjoy. The mechanism functions to exempt Tier 1 (PSW) visa holders from satisfying the Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT). This means that if an applicant who has been working for the same employer for a period of six months is sponsored by the employer to stay on, then such an applicant can earn 30 points on the attributes section of the Tier 2 (General) application without having to satisfy the RLMT.
Employment under the rules can include unpaid work and despite this the Tier 2 (General) form requires “evidence” of payments being made to workers in the 6 months’ qualifying period when an applicant switches from the Tier 1 (PSW) category into the Tier 2 (General) category. But in order to exclude liability, the Agency has updated its errors in a peripheral place on its website (hope to find the link later on), however inconvenient this might be for applicants.
The UKBA envisages that despite the omissions set out above the refined criteria will help it “to meet the ongoing recruitment needs of sponsors while maintaining the overall interim limit for Tier 2 (General) applications, which was introduced in July 2010.”
Generally, requests for additional certificates of sponsorship are considered by a panel of UKBA managers, who meet on the first working day of each month to allocate the said certificates. The Agency announced that “because of the introduction of the refined criteria, the November panel will be delayed until 12 November.” Information about the operational mechanics can be found here.
The Agency has defended the delay by arguing that it will be batter placed to “gather further information in advance of the November panel from sponsors who have submitted a COS(AR) request form.” And the UKBA used the opportunity to inform the world that “if further information is needed, the sponsor will shortly receive a letter detailing the information that they should supply.”
Exceptionally, the UKBA will consider urgent cases outside the monthly panel.