Global Immigration Updates: UK, Singapore, and Japan

August 08, 2019

Recent immigration updates include additions to the shortage occupation list in the United Kingdom, a pilot scheme to facilitate employment pass applications for tech companies in Singapore, and a new work visa category in Japan for graduates of Japanese universities.



In his first speech to Parliament as prime minister, Boris Johnson reaffirmed the previous guarantee that EU and EEA nationals living and working in the United Kingdom will be able to remain in the UK following the UK’s departure from the EU. The EU Settlement Scheme is now live for EU and EEA nationals and their family members. For more information about the EU Settlement Scheme, please see our April and June immigration updates.

Biometric Residence Permit Delays

When an individual successfully applies for leave to enter or further leave to remain in the UK, he/she receives a letter of approval from the Home Office instructing him/her to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival into the UK (if he/she has applied for leave to enter the UK) or receive a new BRP within 7 working days (if he/she has applied for leave to remain in the UK). If the BRP does not arrive on time, an applicant can use an online service to report the delay to the Home Office.

A significant number of applicants are currently experiencing delays with receiving their BRPs. A common reason for the delay for Tier 2 applications is that the Home Office is now printing National Insurance (NI) numbers on all BRPs. If an applicant does not hold an NI number prior to submitting the further leave to remain application (this is most common for Tier 2 ICT migrants who remain employed and paid overseas), the Home Office will request a new NI number from the Department of Work and Pensions and this can take some time to receive.

ePassport Gates

As set out in our previous update, ePassport gates (egates) were introduced at UK airports and Brussels and Paris Eurostar terminals for nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.

While the introduction of the egates does make entry into the UK much quicker, the following individuals should not use the egates:

  • Persons with Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) certificates of sponsorship valid for up to three months who do not have visas in their passports
  • Permitted paid engagements visitors
  • Short-term students who do not have visas
  • Persons joining EEA national family members in the UK

Individuals who fall within one of these categories should insist that they see an immigration officer on arrival so that they can be admitted correctly to the UK.

Since the introduction of the egates, some individuals who fall into the categories listed above are being incorrectly instructed by staff to use the egates. If individuals do incorrectly use the egates they will be admitted entry to the UK as visitors and will not have the right to work in the UK.

Employers must therefore ensure that individuals who fall into one of the categories listed above request to see an immigration officer when they arrive in the UK and pass through Immigration Control.

Approved English Language Tests

The list of approved English tests and test centers has been updated. Applicants who need to sit a test to show that they have the required level of English for their visas should refer to the new list.

Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List Updates

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is a list of jobs roles published by the Home Office. The benefits of a role being included on the SOL are the following:

  • The employer is not required to undertake a resident labor market test.
  • Roles on the SOL are prioritized within the monthly restricted certificate of sponsorship allocation.
  • There will be no requirement to meet the minimum salary threshold required for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
  • Lower visa application fees apply.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent public body that advises the government on migration issues, completed a full review of the SOL in May 2019. The MAC has recommended adding new occupations to the SOL including web designers and architects, engineers, nurses, and artists as well as broadening the SOL. For example, the SOL currently includes only a number of roles that meet specific requirements, e.g., the applicant has a number of years of previous experience and the role is within a particular sector. The MAC has recommended that all roles in occupations such as software developers, programmers, engineers, artists, arts officers and producers, nurses, and medical practitioners should be included.

In his last written statement as home secretary, Sajid Javid confirmed on July 23 that the government is accepting all of the recommendations made by the MAC regarding the SOL. A new SOL is expected to be published shortly.


Singapore’s Pilot Scheme to Facilitate Employment Pass Applications for Technology Companies

On July 30, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Enterprise Singapore announced plans to pilot Tech @ SG, a program aiming to facilitate the Employment Pass (EP) applications of core team members of technology companies in order to help these companies to grow in Singapore and expand in the region.

Although the authorities have yet to announce concrete details on the program, they have indicated that there would be more flexibility in the eligibility requirements for these candidates. Currently, EPs are for foreign professionals who have job offers in Singapore, work in managerial, executive, or specialized jobs, earn a fixed monthly salary of at least S$3,600, and have acceptable qualifications. Under the program, alternative factors such as the stock options remuneration may be considered, and a candidate without formal academic qualifications but with deep skills may still be granted an EP.


Japan’s New Work Permit Category for Japanese University Graduates

In an effort to address labor shortages, Japan has recently introduced a new route to work authorization under the Designated Activities (DA) work visa subcategory. This new employer-sponsored subcategory is for foreign graduates of Japanese universities who seek to stay and work in the country after graduation.

As there is no limit on eligible industries, the DA work visa is available to employers and sponsors from any job sector as long as there is a full-time or permanent position on offer with a minimum salary requirement of JPY 200,000 per month. Additionally, applicants must pass a Japanese language proficiency test and must have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree from a university in Japan in order to qualify.

Successful applicants will be granted with an initial validity of three months, six months, one year, three years, or five years, depending on the duration of the assignment and the discretion of the adjudicating officer. This visa may be renewed for a maximum stay duration of up to five years.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Yvette Allen