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Cutting Migration and Tackling Care Worker Visa Abuse

In a bid to address concerns over unsustainable levels of legal migration and combat visa abuse, the UK government has implemented new rules aimed at significantly reducing net migration while ensuring fair treatment of care workers and protecting British jobs. These measures, spearheaded by Home Secretary James Cleverly MP, signify a robust yet equitable approach towards immigration reform and workforce management.

Addressing Care Worker Visa Abuse

One significant aspect of the new regulations is the restriction placed on care workers from bringing dependents. Last year alone, an alarming 120,000 dependents accompanied 100,000 workers in the care sector, highlighting a disproportionate trend that raised red flags regarding potential exploitation and misuse of the immigration system.

To counter such abuses, care providers in England must now register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the industry regulator for Health and Social Care. This measure aims to crack down on worker exploitation and abuse within the sector, ensuring that those entering the UK for employment are treated fairly and in accordance with established standards.

A Balanced Approach

While acknowledging the invaluable contributions of care workers to society, the Home Secretary emphasises the need for action in the face of clear abuses and unsustainable migration numbers. The government’s plan, as outlined by Cleverly, seeks to strike a balance between protecting British workers and facilitating the entry of international talent that adds value to the economy and society.

Preventing Undercutting and Ensuring Fairness

The new rules extend beyond the care sector to encompass broader measures aimed at preventing the continued undercutting of British workers. By raising the salary threshold for skilled workers and removing discounts for migrant workers in shortage occupations, the government aims to create a level playing field where both domestic and international workers are treated fairly and equitably.

A Sustainable Approach to Social Care

Minister for Social Care Helen Whately MP underscores the government’s commitment to developing a sustainable approach to social care. While international recruitment has played a role in addressing workforce shortages, it is not a long-term solution. Instead, the government is focusing on boosting the domestic workforce through reforms aimed at providing clearer career paths, better training, and improved job prospects for British workers.

Ensuring Integrity in Higher Education

In addition to immigration reforms, the government is also taking steps to safeguard the integrity and quality of UK higher education. A review of the graduate route for international students, commissioned by the Home Secretary, aims to prevent abuse and ensure that the UK attracts the best and brightest talents from around the world.

Conclusion:

The new UK laws represent a significant step towards addressing concerns related to migration and visa abuse while ensuring fairness and integrity in the immigration system. By prioritising the protection of British workers, promoting sustainable solutions in social care, and upholding standards in higher education, the government is laying the groundwork for a more equitable and prosperous future for all. As these measures take effect, it is essential to monitor their impact and continue working towards a more inclusive and balanced immigration policy that serves the best interests of the UK and its citizens.

For all your immigration questions and advice, contact Aman Solicitors today.

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The New Employment Laws Expected In 2024

As the regulatory landscape evolves, staying abreast of employment law changes is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance and foster a fair and supportive workplace environment. With the UK government confirming at least 10 new laws for 2024, alongside the customary yearly adjustments such as the national minimum wage, businesses must proactively prepare for the implications these changes may have on their operations.

At Aman Solicitors in Birmingham, we understand the importance of anticipating and adapting to legislative shifts in employment law. To help you navigate the upcoming changes and understand their impact, here’s a comprehensive overview of what to expect in the realm of UK employment law in 2024.

Statutory Carer’s Leave: A New Entitlement

Effective from 6th April 2024, eligible employees will have the right to take statutory carer’s leave, marking a significant addition to leave entitlements in the UK. Under this new law, employees caring for dependents with long-term care needs will be entitled to take up to one week of unpaid leave annually, starting from their first day of employment.

Flexibility is key, as employees will have the freedom to take carer’s leave as needed, provided they give the requisite notice, which is typically double the requested time off or three days, whichever is longer. While employers cannot refuse carer’s leave requests, they may postpone leave if it would severely disrupt business operations.

Statutory Neonatal Care Leave: Enhancing Support For Parents

Expected to be introduced in October 2024, statutory neonatal care leave aims to provide additional support to parents of babies in neonatal care units. This new entitlement recognizes the unique challenges faced by parents during this critical time and allows for up to 12 weeks of leave, beyond existing maternity and paternity entitlements.

Employers will be required to pay employees on neonatal care leave at the same rate as maternity pay, ensuring financial support for families during challenging circumstances.

These forthcoming changes underscore the need for employers to review and update their policies and procedures to accommodate evolving legal requirements and support the well-being of their workforce.

At Aman Solicitors, we are committed to providing timely and expert legal guidance to help businesses navigate the complexities of employment law in the UK. Our experienced team stands ready to offer tailored advice and strategic solutions to address your specific needs and challenges.

If you require assistance in understanding or implementing these changes, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for instant advice and support. Together, we can ensure your business remains compliant, resilient, and well-equipped to thrive in an ever-changing regulatory landscape.

For expert legal assistance on employment law matters, contact Aman Solicitors today.

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New Year, New Visa Rules: A Comprehensive Guide by Aman Solicitors

As we approach a new year, it’s crucial to stay informed about the evolving landscape of immigration regulations. On December 4, 2023, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced a “five-point plan” to reduce immigration, unveiling significant changes to visa rules. At Aman Solicitors, we believe in empowering you with the knowledge needed to navigate these adjustments effectively.

The Five Changes in Visa Rules:

1. Dependency Restrictions for Social Care Workers:

  • Social care workers will no longer be allowed to bring dependents (partners and children) on their visa.

2. Increased Minimum Salary for Skilled Worker Visa:

  • The baseline minimum salary for a Skilled Worker visa will rise from £26,200 to £38,700 (except for the Health and Care Worker visa and education workers on national pay scales).

3. Alterations to the Shortage Occupation List:

  • Changes to the shortage occupation list aim to reduce the number of jobs eligible for sponsoring overseas workers below the baseline minimum salary.

4. Elevated Minimum Income for Spouse/Partner Visa:

  • The minimum income required to sponsor someone for a spouse/partner visa will increase in stages: £18,600 to £29,000, then approximately £34,500, and finally around £38,700.

5. Review of the Graduate Visa:

  • The Migration Advisory Committee will conduct a review of the Graduate visa, a two-year unsponsored work permit for overseas graduates of British universities.

Implementation Timeline:

The changes will be implemented on different timelines:

  • Banning care worker dependents is expected “as soon as possible in the new year.”
  • The Skilled Worker minimum salary increase will take effect in April 2024.
  • Changes to the shortage occupation list are anticipated no earlier than April 2024.
  • Spouse/partner visa minimum income will increase in stages throughout 2024 and early 2025.
  • The Graduate visa review will commence in January and may extend until late 2024.

Advance Notice and Parliamentary Procedure:

  • Statements of changes to the Immigration Rules must be laid before Parliament and are typically subject to at least 21 days of advance notice.
  • MPs are unlikely to vote on the changes, as alterations to the Immigration Rules take effect automatically unless actively annulled within 40 days.

How Aman Solicitors Can Assist:

At Aman Solicitors, we understand the significance of these changes and the impact they may have on individuals and businesses. Our experienced immigration law team is here to guide you through the complexities of the new regulations, providing tailored advice and solutions.

Bottom Line:

The landscape of immigration rules is ever-changing. Stay informed, and let Aman Solicitors be your trusted partner in navigating the complexities of these adjustments. Visit our website AmanSolicitors.co.uk for more information or to schedule a consultation with our immigration experts. Knowledge is empowerment, and we are here to empower you through every step of your journey.

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Navigating Change: A Comprehensive Look At The UK’s Immigration Overhaul

In a recent announcement, Home Secretary James Cleverly laid out an ambitious 5-point plan aimed at reducing legal immigration to the UK, set to take effect in the Spring of 2024. These measures, driven by the government’s commitment to control net migration and protect the interests of British workers, come as a response to the challenges posed by high levels of migration and the strain on public services.

Cleverly stated, “It is clear that net migration remains far too high. By leaving the European Union, we gained control over who can come to the UK, but far more must be done to bring those numbers down so British workers are not undercut and our public services put under less strain.”

Key Changes in the Immigration Landscape:

  • Minimum Salary Hike: Skilled workers will witness a substantial increase in the minimum salary, rising from £26,200 to £38,700. This move is anticipated to impact nearly 300,000 individuals who would have qualified to enter the UK under the previous threshold.
  • Family Visa Financial Threshold: The financial threshold for family visas, allowing partners to enter the UK, has skyrocketed from £18,600 to £38,700, a significant increase of £20,100.
  • Healthcare Workers and Dependents: The ban on healthcare workers bringing in dependants aims to address concerns about worker exploitation and abuse within the adult social care sector. The move follows the introduction of carers as a temporary measure to fill labour shortages after the pandemic.
  • Shortage Occupation List: The 20% reduction in the going rate for jobs on the shortage occupation list is set to be withdrawn.
  • Graduate Visa Route Review: A comprehensive review of the graduate visa route is in progress.
  • IHS Surcharge Increase: As of 16 January 2024, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will surge from £624 to £1,035, ensuring migrants make a fair financial contribution to public services, including the NHS.

Government’s Perspective:

According to Cleverly, these measures are designed to deliver the most substantial reduction in net migration, with approximately 300,000 people who came to the UK last year being impacted. He emphasised the government’s commitment to halt the drastic rise in work visa routes and crack down on those seeking to exploit the UK’s hospitality.

Workers and their dependants currently account for a significant proportion of visas issued, with Skilled Worker and Health and Care Worker visas making up 63% of work grants. The proportion of work-related visas granted to dependants has risen to 43% as of the year ending September 2023.

In addition to the immigration reforms, the government is taking steps to address concerns about non-compliance and worker exploitation within the adult social care sector, particularly for overseas workers employed in care occupations.

Changes in Student Visas:

Earlier this year, the government announced measures to cut the number of student visas issued. These include removing the right for international students to bring dependants unless they are on postgraduate research courses and preventing international students from switching to work routes before completing their studies. These changes will come into force for courses starting in January 2024.

Conclusion:

As the UK prepares for a significant immigration overhaul, these measures are poised to impact individuals, businesses, and sectors across the board. The government’s commitment to striking a balance between controlling migration and ensuring fair contributions to public services underscores the complexity of this issue. For those affected by these changes and in need of guidance, Aman Solicitors stands ready to provide support and advice.

Stay informed, stay connected. 

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Summer Round-Up: Key Developments in UK Employment Law

Introduction:

As the summer months have come to an end, it’s time to take a closer look at the significant developments in UK employment law that have taken place during this period. At Aman Solicitors, we understand the importance of staying updated on the ever-evolving legal landscape, and we’re here to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the key changes and reforms that have transpired in the world of employment law.

Family-Friendly Rights:

One area of employment law that saw notable developments over the summer pertains to family-friendly rights. Employers and employees alike should be aware of these changes, which include adjustments to parental leave and flexible working arrangements. These changes are aimed at creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment, where employees can better balance their personal and professional lives.

Trade Unions and Sexual Harassment Reform:

In the realm of trade unions and sexual harassment reform, significant strides have been made to ensure that workers’ rights are protected and that workplaces are free from harassment. These reforms are part of a broader effort to promote fairness and equality in the workplace. Our solicitors are well-versed in these changes and can provide guidance on how they may affect your business or employment situation.

Worker Status and Industrial Action Rights:

Court and tribunal decisions during the summer have also clarified the test for worker status and industrial action rights. Understanding the legal framework surrounding worker status is crucial for both employers and employees, as it can impact employment rights and benefits. Likewise, staying informed about industrial action rights is essential for those involved in labor disputes or negotiations.

Treatment of Share Incentive Plan Rights after TUPE Transfers:

Another key area of development in UK employment law relates to the treatment of share incentive plan rights after TUPE transfers. Changes in ownership or business structures can have significant implications for employees’ benefits and entitlements. Our solicitors can provide expert advice on how these changes may affect you and your business.

Conclusion:

While we typically expect employment law reform to progress slowly, this summer has proven to be an exception. The developments we’ve highlighted in family-friendly rights, trade unions, sexual harassment reform, worker status, industrial action rights, and share incentive plan rights after TUPE transfers underscore the need for ongoing vigilance and legal expertise in navigating the complexities of employment law.

At Aman Solicitors, our team of dedicated solicitors is here to assist you with all your employment law needs. Whether you’re an employer seeking to ensure compliance with new regulations or an employee looking to understand your rights better, we are committed to providing you with the guidance and support you require.

Stay informed, stay protected – trust Aman Solicitors for all your employment law matters.

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Navigating Immigration and Employment Law Changes in the UK

If you’re an employer in the UK or an individual considering working in the country, it’s essential to stay informed about the latest updates in immigration and employment law. Recent announcements from the UK government have significant implications for both employers and visa applicants, and it’s crucial to understand these changes to make informed decisions.

Visa Application Fee Increases

The UK government has confirmed plans to implement substantial increases in visa application fees. While the exact effective date is yet to be confirmed, it is expected to take place in autumn 2023. These proposed changes are set to create additional financial burdens for employers recruiting individuals from overseas who require visas to work in the UK.

Here’s a breakdown of the key fee increases:

  1. Core government application fees for work and visitor visas are set to rise by 15%.
  2. Fees for Certificates of Sponsorship, indefinite leave to remain, all other leave to remain, entry clearance applications, and priority services will increase by 20%.
  3. The main rate of the Immigration Health Surcharge will see a substantial increase from £624 to £1035 per year. For students and those under 18, the discounted rate will increase from £470 to £776 per year.
  4. For instance, a Three-Year Skilled Worker visa application for a single applicant is estimated to exceed £7,000 under the new arrangements, reflecting a roughly 25% increase.

Impact on Employers

These changes undoubtedly present higher costs for employers seeking to recruit foreign talent. To mitigate the financial impact, employers should consider the following strategies:

  1. Review Recruitment Plans: Evaluate your recruitment plans and budget to ensure they align with the expected fee increases.
  2. Accelerate Applications: If feasible, consider bringing forward visa applications before the fee hikes come into effect to avoid paying higher rates.
  3. Maximise Visa Durations: For new hires applying before the increased fees take effect, consider maximising visa durations to minimise the potential for costly renewals in the future.

Penalty Increases for Illegal Working

In addition to the visa fee increases, the Home Office has announced significant raises in civil penalties for illegal working, anticipated to take effect in 2024. These increased penalties are designed to further discourage illegal working practices in the UK.

Here are the notable civil penalty increases:

  1. The penalty for a first breach will rise from a maximum of £15,000 per illegal worker to £45,000.
  2. The penalty for repeat breaches will increase from £20,000 per illegal worker to £60,000.

Ensuring Compliance

Employers must have robust processes in place to combat illegal working, in accordance with Home Office guidance. This includes conducting proper right-to-work checks for all employees, regardless of nationality. For those holding a Sponsorship Licence, there are enhanced compliance and reporting obligations that must be upheld to avoid penalties.

As solicitors based in Birmingham, we are well-equipped to assist with all immigration and employment law matters. If you require guidance or support navigating these changes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced legal team. Stay informed, stay compliant, and make informed decisions in this evolving legal landscape.

For expert legal advice and assistance, contact Aman Solicitors today. We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of immigration and employment law in the UK.

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What the UK’s Incoming Flexible Working Laws Mean for You?

Employment law is constantly evolving, and staying up-to-date with the latest developments is crucial for both employers and employees. Last month, a significant milestone was achieved as The Flexible Working Bill successfully passed its third reading in the House of Lords without any additional amendments. With just Royal Assent pending, this bill is on the verge of becoming law.

At Aman Solicitors, we recognise the impact these legal changes will have on workplace practices and the rights of employees. As a team of experienced employment law solicitors, we are dedicated to ensuring fair and just treatment in the workplace, whether you are an employee seeking flexible work arrangements or an employer navigating these upcoming changes.

Understanding the Flexible Working Bill

The Flexible Working Bill aims to empower employees by granting them the right to request flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed working weeks. The bill recognises the changing nature of work and the desire for a better work-life balance.

Once the bill becomes law, eligible employees will be entitled to request flexible working, and employers will have a legal obligation to seriously consider these requests and provide a valid reason for rejection. This legislation signifies a significant shift in how work is structured and reinforces the importance of promoting work-life balance for employees.

Benefits for Employees

For employees, the Flexible Working Bill opens up a world of possibilities. It allows you to better balance your personal and professional life, resulting in improved overall well-being and increased job satisfaction. Flexible work arrangements can be especially beneficial for working parents, caregivers, and individuals with specific health or lifestyle needs.

The bill also fosters a more inclusive and diverse workforce, accommodating individuals with different circumstances and backgrounds. As an employee, you will have the opportunity to negotiate working conditions that suit your individual needs, ultimately leading to a more productive and engaged workforce.

Responsibilities for Employers

With this new legislation, employers will have a greater responsibility in considering and addressing flexible working requests. It is essential for businesses to develop clear and transparent policies that outline the process for requesting flexible work arrangements. Employers must also train managers and HR personnel to handle these requests fairly and without prejudice.

Embracing flexible working can offer benefits to employers as well. It can enhance employee retention, attract top talent, and boost productivity. A flexible work environment can lead to a happier and more motivated workforce, which, in turn, positively impacts a company’s bottom line.

Bottom Line

At Aman Solicitors, we are committed to helping both employers and employees navigate the changing legal landscape. Whether you need guidance on implementing flexible work arrangements or require support in asserting your rights as an employee, our dedicated team of employment law solicitors is here to assist you every step of the way.

Contact us today to learn how we can empower you to embrace the benefits of flexible working and ensure a fair and equitable workplace for all. Together, we can build a future of work that fosters growth, well-being, and success for both employees and employers alike.

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Government reform of UK employment law – what do employers need to know?

The Government has proposed significant reform of key aspects of UK employment law.

In the “Smarter regulation to grow the economy” policy paper (the “Paper”) published last week, the Government identified an opportunity to improve post-Brexit employment regulation whilst maintaining UK labour standards, which it states are some of the highest in the world.

The “Retained EU employment law reforms” consultation paper has now been published. It contains the reform proposals in relation to the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTR”) and the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (“TUPE Regulations”) summarised below.

The Government has identified these areas as being too onerous on business to be used effectively, or too complex for workers to know, understand and use.

Working time reform proposals

  • A proposal to merge the current “basic” statutory annual leave entitlement of 4 weeks (derived from EU law) with the “additional” UK entitlement of 1.6 weeks, to create one annual leave entitlement of 5.6 weeks. This means there would be only one set of rules under the WTR including in relation to the calculation of holiday pay, carry-over of holiday, and calculating holiday during the first year of employment. The aim is to remove the administrative burden and complications for employers of distinguishing between two annual leave entitlements.
  • The introduction of rolled-up holiday pay (which is currently illegal following EU caselaw). This reflects the change in the labour market, with the number of workers with irregular hours increasing to more than 4.5 million. This would enable employers to enhance the basic pay of workers to provide an additional amount equivalent to 12.07% of a worker’s pay in each payslip, rather than at the time holiday is taken. The percentage would be adjusted to cover any contractual leave beyond the statutory entitlement.
  • A proposal to reform the record-keeping requirements in the WTR so that businesses do not have to keep a record of daily working hours of their workers.

TUPE reform proposals

A proposal to change the current consultation requirements to simplify the transfer process under the TUPE Regulations.

  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be permitted to consult directly with employees if there are no existing employee representatives in place.
  • Note that this is an extension of the current micro-business consultation exception, which currently applies to employers with fewer than ten employees.
  • Further, businesses of any size would be permitted to consult directly with employees (if there are no existing employee representatives) if fewer than ten employees will have their employment transferred under the TUPE Regulations.
  • If employee representatives are already in place in either case, then the employer would still be required to consult with them.

Non-compete restrictions

While the Consultation covers working time and TUPE reform, the Government’s Paper also detailed the intention, “when parliamentary time allows”, to limit non-compete clauses to three months after termination of employment.

The Government accepts that these types of restriction can play an important role in protecting businesses who invest in their staff, but considers that unnecessarily burdensome clauses have become a default part of too many employment contracts. It estimates that this change will affect up to 5 million UK workers.

Employers will still be able to restrict an employee’s activities during periods of paid garden leave or their notice periods, but any restriction beyond the termination of their employment would be limited to three months. The proposed limit would not apply to non-solicitation clauses (which will be subject to the existing caselaw requirements in relation to enforceability), nor will confidentiality clauses be affected.

Conclusion

The proposals reflect the Government’s intention to take advantage of post-Brexit regulatory freedoms and remove “unnecessary bureaucracy”.

This package of proposed reforms follows hot on the heels of the decision to change approach in relation to the revocation of EU-derived subordinate law (i.e. Regulations). Instead of “sunsetting” all such UK Regulations on 31 December this year, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill has been amended so that only a specific list of affected Regulations will be revoked, with the rest remaining valid and binding.

That means it will be business as usual for UK employers until the outcome of the employment reform consultation becomes clear. The consultation closes to responses on 7 July 2023.

*Source: Lexology

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How new UK immigration rules will separate more international students from their families

The UK government has changed its policy on international students, restricting them from bringing their families with them during their studies. This change to how student visas are allocated, the government argues, will help reduce net migration.

Scottish MP Carol Monaghan has been a vocal critic of the new immigration policy. She emphasises the substantial economic contributions made by international students, pointing to the impressive £40 billion they added to the UK economy in 2022.

Also in 2022, Russell Group universities reportedly warned that such restrictions could harm Britain’s economy, not to mention its reputation. In June 2023, Jo Johnson, former minister for universities and science, echoed this warning, saying:

As a strong advocate for international students in our system, I am conscious that there is much to lose from further crackdowns.

Public opinion is largely in favour of legal immigration. The UK public generally perceives legal migrants as having the potential to contribute positively to the UK. Our analysis shows, however, that the government’s new rules have the potential to significantly – and adversely – impact these very people’s mental health, particularly through what one of the authors (Olumba Ezenwa) has termed “cognitive immobility”.

Cognitive immobility

Cognitive immobility exists when your mind is stuck in the past, constantly replaying old memories or experiences about people, events, or cultures you encountered in places you lived or visited in the past, causing you to stress, which could be even worse. This can lead to emotional exhaustion and other mental health issues including anxiety, depression, social isolation and, in severe cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Informal stories or reports indicate that many international students may already be facing difficulties, even before the new policy has been put into place. The chemist, Chisom Chuba, who relocated from Nigeria to Ireland in 2020, has equated ending video calls with her family to the sensation of a plaster being torn from her skin. In an interview, published in November 2022, with the journalist Olayide Oluwafunmilayo Soaga, she said:

I don’t know if it is the sound of the call dropping or just watching the screen go blank with their image gone. But it is all I can get for now.

This description of feeling like a plaster is being torn from your skin suggests the onset of cognitive immobility. Without proper support, you might see your mental health deteriorate. This can lead to the second stage, which can be severe and even pose a risk of self-harm.

How the new rules might affect students

The new immigration rules are set to apply uniformly to almost all international students. By separating families, these could exacerbate feelings of isolation, affect academic performance and trigger cognitive immobility.

Separation affects children as much as adults. Individually, it causes stress, anxiety, depression, mood changes and frustration due to negative family dynamics. It also represents the loss of your primary support system, which can make adjusting to a new environment particularly challenging.

International postgraduate students in particular are already found to experience heightened levels of depression, anxiety, stress and even suicidal thoughts, compared to the general UK population. As psychologist Philip Dimka told the Guardian:

There is a tendency for you to adjust more to a new environment when you are with your family, but when you are separated, you are likely to develop stress and anxiety.

Cognitive immobility unfolds in three stages: awareness/separation, retrieval and stabilisation. The awareness/separation stage is characterised by individuals feeling disoriented and confused as they grapple with persistent thoughts or longings for (familial) experiences or the places left behind.

In the retrieval stage, individuals strive to revisit or relive the places or experiences they feel lost. This process can be physically returning to those places or mentally recreating those memories, leading to discomfort, especially when these memories, such as the absence of loved ones, surface unconsciously and cause stress.

The final stage, stabilisation, shifts focus from trying to reclaim the past to retaining values and setting goals to cope with the sense of loss; this helps alleviate the feeling of entrapment. This is often the desired stage for those experiencing cognitive immobility.

There are four essential things you need in order to mitigate the negative impacts of cognitive immobility: a profession; a community or family; time for reflection; and good health. It is through developing coping strategies that tie in with these four elements that enable you to settle somewhere new and make a new home.

In depriving international students of the primary support system provided by their families, therefore, the new immigration guidelines may exacerbate cognitive immobility. The impact will be worse for students from some developing countries, where talking about mental health is disregarded or stigmatised. This situation will worsen if students do not understand the nature and seriousness of the mental health problems they face. This could put themselves and others at risk.

This is an urgent call to action. Without the new policies being revisited, and crucially, without more effective support services within universities, international students will struggle to transition smoothly, excel academically and thrive personally.

Looking to migrate to the UK?
Let us make the process smooth and stress free for you!
Our team of experts is here to guide you through every step of the way.

Get in touch today on 0121 328 4455

*Source: The conversation

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Costs budgeting works but can be tailored to cases, review finds

A major review of legal costs has concluded that budgeting should stay and that guideline hourly rates should be updated every year.

The Civil Justice Council today published the outcome of a working group’s year-long study into how costs are decided and apportioned by the courts.

A working group set up by the CJC concluded unanimously that costs budgeting, introduced 10 years ago following the Jackson report, has been a ‘significant and valuable shift’ and should be retained.

But the group also concluded that current rules do not account for the differences in civil justice and recommended that in future approaches should be varied depending on the type of case.

Only a handful of respondents to the consultation argued that costs budgeting should be abolished. The work group found evidence of ‘real and sustained progress’ in budgeting and improvements in case management, noting that this change in culture was a ‘major step forward’.

But the group did recommend tailoring the approach to suit different work types or the venue where litigation is conducted. Members ‘tentatively’ suggested that personal injury and clinical negligence, claims in the business and property courts and other specialist work could be treated differently.

A pilot scheme could test whether cases valued between £100,000 and £1m should be subject to ‘costs budget light’ and a lighter touch approach for cases above £1m in the business and property courts should also be trialled, the report said.

The majority of the working group also backed a staged approach to costs and case management where appropriate. Many lawyers felt that the listing of a joint costs and case management conference caused significant delays, and listing the two separately would allow directions to be given at a much earlier stage.

Guideline hourly rates, it was recommended, should stay in place but be adjusted annually for inflation and reviewed in detail every five years.

The working group found ‘no real appetite’ for abolishing GHR. The only changes necessary were addressing the fact that the highest band was too low for top flight commercial work, the anomaly of counsels’ fees being excluded, and bringing in a test for courts departing from guideline rates.

‘A number of respondents felt that the circumstances in which the court will be prepared to depart from GHRs were lacking in clarity, and we agree,’ said the working group.

The group said the Solicitors Act 1974 was ‘in parts clearly out of step with the reality of present-day litigation practice’.

On the issue of contentious and non-contentious costs incurred pre-action – brought into focus by the Court of Appeal ruling in Belsner – there was almost universal acceptance that the distinction was outmoded. But at the same time, there was acceptance that reform of the 1974 act, which set out the distinction, was not a government priority.

The working group said parties should be encouraged to engage in pre-action processes ‘in the fullest and most effective way possible’, with a process created to allow the courts to determine ‘pre-issue’ costs.

The master of the rolls has welcomed the report and will now consider ways to implement its recommendations.

Law Society Head of Justice Richard Miller said cost reforms must strike the right balance between encouraging settlement and fairness for all parties.

He added: ‘ The provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974 relating to costs are in many respects out of step with modern litigation practice as there is now often extensive pre-litigation work, which is not envisaged in the1974 Act. It is not clear whether the mechanisms in the act referred to by the Civil Justice Council (s56) can provide a solution in the absence of changes to primary legislation in the foreseeable future. As it seems unlikely there will be new legislation in the near future, this is worth exploring.’

c: LawGazette