UK Border Agency will implement new
transitional arrangement for
Senior Carer Work Permits post Tier 2
By Charles Kelly
16 June 2008
The UK Border Agency will put in place further transitional arrangements to minimise the impact of the Points Based System (PBS) on existing Work Permits, according to Richard Jackson of the UK Border Agency’s Operational Policy Unit.
In response to Immigration Matters recent letter to Meg Hillier, Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, regarding transitional arrangements for Senior Care Worker applications, Richard Jackson confirmed that the Policy Unit are working on measures to minimise the impact of Tier 2 on Work Permit holders.
Immigration Matters had earlier been sent a copy of a letter from the Minister confirming that the Government would extend help to Work Permit holders, and had sought clarification from the Home Office.
Mr Jackson revealed that the UK Border Agency is now planning to launch Tier 2 of the new system in November 2008 and not, as previously advised, in September. This will give employers and migrant workers much needed breathing space.
“We recognise the impact that the launch of Tier 2 could have on all existing work permit holders, including senior care workers.
“Therefore, we will put in place transitional arrangements to minimise this impact, and enable work permit holders to extend their leave under Tier 2 up to the qualifying period for settlement.” Mr Jackson told Immigration Matters.
These transitional arrangements are set out in more detail in the Tier 2 Statement of Intent, which was published on 6 May and is available on the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/pbsdocs/
Mr Jackson pointed out that there are currently concessions in place for Senior Carers not available to other Work Permit holders, and said that “transitional arrangements we put in place for senior care workers may vary from those offered to other work permit holders”.
He stressed that no final decision has yet been made on how these arrangements will operate, but said they are “exploring possible transitional arrangements specifically for senior care workers under Tier 2”. An announcement is expected shortly on the UKBA website.
In answer to our request for assurances on Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for Senior Carers, Mr Jackson said:
“Work Permit employment entitles an individual to limited leave to remain in the UK for the duration of the approved period of employment only. Whilst this is a potential route to settlement, there has never been any promise or guarantee that one approval of limited leave to remain will automatically lead to another. Applications, including those for extensions and those for settlement, are considered according to the rules and guidance in place at the time that that application is made.”
This will do little to allay fears that the ILR may not be available to Senior Carers should the job be reclassified as “low skilled” under Tier 3.
In reply to Immigration Matters request for a reduction in the ILR qualifying period for migrant workers who arrived prior to the implementation of the qualifying period, Mr Jackson said:
“Reducing the qualifying period for settlement to four years would only benefit the minority of senior care workers who have been granted between four and five years’ leave under the work permit arrangements.
“Many senior care workers have been granted less than four years’ leave, and so would not benefit from such a change. Such a move would also be inconsistent with our overall policy on settlement. The increase in the qualifying period was to ensure that applicants had established a genuine link to the UK and to bring us in line with other European countries.”
Immigration Matters Comment
The announcement will bring some relief to workers and their employers still reeling from the events of the last year. Any measures to help migrant workers make the “transition” from Work Permit to the new PBS will be welcomed by the care industry. However, details on exactly how the proposed transition will work are scant and no official announcement has been made.
We would urge readers to continue to lobby their Member of Parliament on this important issue.