December 9, 2013
Over the past several months, the United Kingdom Home Office has announced several requirement changes for certain long-term visa applicants. Among these changes are an increased number of nationalities who will be required to submit a Tuberculosis (TB) test for their long-term visa applications, as well as amended guidelines to acceptable English Language Proficiency Tests.
Tuberculosis Testing Extended to Additional Countries
As the end of 2013 draws closer, the Home Office continues to gradually increase the number of nationalities requiring a pre-screening TB test for all long-term visa (validity of six months or more) applications. These changes are in response to both the growing number of reported TB occurrences throughout the UK and the World Health Organization’s 2013 Global Tuberculosis Report.
By the end of the three-phase implementation program, 67 additional nationalities will require this additional pre-screening test issued by a UK Home Office-approved clinic. While the impact on the overall immigration process is fairly minimal for the affected nationalities, the pre-screening test can take several hours to complete and includes a chest x-ray. If cleared, a certificate will be issued valid for six months.
Most recently, the Home Office has implemented the new testing requirements in the following countries:
- China – beginning 31 December 2013;
- Dominican Republic;
- Hong Kong – beginning 31 December 2013;
- Macau – beginning 31 December 2013;
- Uganda; and
Amended Guidelines to English Language Testing Requirements
Recently, the UK Home Office amended its list of acceptable English Language Proficiency Tests for Tier 1, 2, and 4 applicants. The new list seeks to clarify exactly which organizations are accredited to proctor the English Language tests, as well as exactly what documentation an applicant must file as proof of his/her English Language proficiency.
The new guidelines can be found at the UK Home Office website here.
ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS
Although the overall immigration processing times should not be affected by these recent procedural and requirement changes, employers should still be mindful that the UK Immigration Authorities are in the process of implementing many changes throughout the immigration process.
In the cases of both the additional TB testing and new guidelines for English Language testing, the changes are mostly procedural; thus, employers should be mindful of the additional pre-application steps for those nationalities affected by the changes. Both changes will require additional planning during the document-gathering stages: the TB test must be scheduled and can take several hours for the applicant to complete, and some of the testing sites for the English Language Proficiency test can have a very limited number of times available for the applicant to sit the test.
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