Immigration rules for domestic workers in private households changed radically in April 2012.
Prior to the amendment of the rules, domestic worker travelling to the UK with their employer were allowed to remain in employment for as long as their services were required. Their right to change employment had at some point been introduced into the Immigration rules so as to ensure protection from abuse and exploitation. Domestic workers were also allowed to settle in the UK after five years.
The amendments introduced into the immigration rules in April 2012 practically split the domestic workers into two distinct categories: those who entered the UK under the Rules in place before 6 April 2012 and those who came under the new rules. The first group still enjoys the more generous provisions and is still entitled to extension of stay and indefinite leave to remain after five years of service.
The rules post April 2012 do not permit domestic worker in a private household to enter the UK for more than six months. Domestic worker is no longer permitted to change employers or extend leave to remain beyond six months.
Further, the new rules significantly limit the group of permitted employers: British and EEA nationals are only allowed to bring their domestic workers to the UK if they are travelling to the UK for a short visit not exceeding six months. Similarly, non-EEA nationals are permitted to have their domestic worker with them only when coming to the UK as visitors, including visitors for private medical treatment, prospective entrepreneurs or as parents of a child in school, but not in any other categories, like Tier 1 investors, entrepreneurs, or Tier 2 migrants.
General visa requirements for domestic worker remain unchanged:
- they have to be aged between 18 and 65;
- have been employed in the employer’s household for not less than a year prior to applying for entry clearance;
- intend to travel to the UK in the company either of the employer, or employer’s spouse or child;
- have to have agreed in writing terms of employment;
- the employer has to undertake to pay the domestic worker in the UK in accordance with national minimal wages legislation;
- the domestic worker should have no intention of undertaking any additional employment.