Friday 15 June 2018
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.
The changes include exempting doctors and nurses from the tier 2 (general) limit, recognising the important contribution that overseas health professionals make to our NHS. This is in response to the particular shortages and pressures facing the NHS at the current time, as well as the fact that the limit has been oversubscribed in each month since December 2017. The change will mean that health sector employers will be able to sponsor doctors and nurses without putting pressure on the limit, freeing up places within the limit for other key roles which contribute to the UK economy and other public services. The changes will be kept under review.
The Government will also ask the independent Migration Advisory Committee to review the composition of the shortage occupation list.
Building on the changes announced by the Chancellor in the autumn, which were implemented in January of this year, further improvements are being made to the tier 1 exceptional talent route. These changes include widening the scope of the creative element of the route to include leading fashion designers, and improved provisions for applicants in film and television.
Appendix H is being updated to include a number of visa national countries, which will allow a greater number of students to benefit from a streamlined application process by reducing documentary requirements. This change demonstrates the continued focus on improving the UK’s offer to international students.
Today also sees the introduction of a new rule for those transferred to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (section 67 leave), who do not qualify for refugee or humanitarian protection leave under the existing rules. In keeping with our commitments in the legislation, and in line with those granted refugee or humanitarian protection leave, individuals who qualify for section 67 leave will have the right to study, work, access public funds and healthcare and apply for indefinite leave to remain without paying a fee after five years.
New settlement provisions are being created to put beyond doubt that Afghan nationals who worked with our armed forces in Afghanistan, and subsequently relocated to the UK with their families, will be able to apply for permanent residence here. As announced on 4 May, these applications will also be free of charge. Afghan locally engaged staff worked in dangerous and challenging situations, regularly putting their lives at risk and we would not have been able to carry out our work there without them. The new dedicated settlement rules make clear our commitment to honour their service and ensure they can continue to build their lives here. The changes also implement plans to extend the ex gratia redundancy scheme by six years to recognise and honour the service of those made redundant before 19 December 2012, as announced by the Defence Secretary on 11 June.
As announced in March, a new route to settlement for Turkish business people and their families who are in the UK under the European communities association agreement is also being created. Eligibility is being extended for this route to Turkish workers and their families who are also here under the association agreement.
Changes are being made to provisions to allow holders of an electronic visa waiver (EVW) to present their EVW in a digital format. The changes will also establish a wider set of permissible errors that will overlook specific, minor discrepancies in the biographic details of an EVW, without compromising on the security of the EVW system.
Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payments
Last week I came to the House to answer an urgent question regarding two PIP appeals to the upper tribunal (known as AN and JM) that I had withdrawn. I was unable to comment on a related case that was pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal (known as LB) as it concerned ongoing litigation, and I committed to updating the House at the earliest opportunity on this case when I was able to do so.
I carefully considered this appeal and have decided to not continue with it in order to provide certainty to the claimant involved. The March 2017 amending regulations (regulations 2(2) and (3) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017) clarified the Department’s position on PIP daily living activity 3 (managing a therapy or monitoring a health condition) and therefore further litigation is unnecessary.
On Wednesday 13 June I received confirmation that the Court of Appeal had consented to my Department’s application to withdraw the appeal in the LB case, and I am pleased to confirm the claimant will be receiving arrears of benefit as soon as possible.
My Department has now begun work to apply the law as stated by the upper tribunal in LB and will take all steps necessary to implement it in the best interests of all affected claimants for the period 28 November 2016 (the date of the upper tribunal decision in LB) to 16 March 2017 (when the amendment to activity 3 came into force). This work will include a review exercise later in the year. We expect that around 1,000 claimants will be affected.
I am absolutely committed to ensuring that disabled people and people with health conditions get the right support they need. PIP is a modern, personalised benefit that assesses claimants on needs, not conditions. It continues to be a better benefit than its predecessor DLA for claimants with chronic conditions. This Government are spending over £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities and health conditions—this is higher than ever before.