The Government announced changes to the Immigration Rules on 7 December 2017. The below note does not aim at detailing all the changes, instead just highlighting the most significant ones. The majority of these changes will come into force on 11 January 2018.
Changes to Indefinite Leave to Remain
- The requirement to have had absences from the UK of no more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for settlement, which currently applies to main applicants is being extended to partners of Points-Based System Migrants (this will include partners of Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 2 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 2 (General) and (Intra-Company Transfer) Migrants). However, absences from the UK during periods of leave made before 11 January 2018 will not count towards the 180 days.
- Tier 2 Migrants will no longer require to have been continuously employed throughout the 5 year qualifying period to be eligible for settlement.
Changes to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
- The number of endorsements available for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrants is being doubled to 2000 (from 1000) per year. The additional 1000 allocation will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis between the Designated Competent Bodies in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology.
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrants will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 3 years of continuous residence. This brings the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category into line with the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) categories, both of which offer similar accelerated settlement.
Changes to Tier 1 (Investor)
- Changes are being made to clarify that for any property used to evidence investment, the property must be the applicant’s main home, and where the property is co-owned, only the investor’s share may count.
Changes to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- In relation to job creation, for applicants whose current leave was granted less than 12 months ago, they will be able to rely on jobs which have existed for at least 12 months before the date of their application. Job creation rules currently require jobs to have existed for at least 12 months during the applicant’s most recent period of leave.
- In relation to job creation, required evidence will need to relate to the period before the applicant joined the business, rather than the period before jobs were created.
- Where funds are currently held by another business which is not the business the applicant is using to score points, that business is to be considered to be a third party providing funding.
- Applicants relying on investment from a venture capital firm will be required to provide a letter from the firm confirming the date(s) the funds were transferred to the applicant or invested in their business and that the firm was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority at the time.
- Applicants will not be able to rely on funds or investment that have been provided by another Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, or that migrant’s business or close family member. These investments and funds can no longer be relied on to “prevent recycling of funds between applicants”.
- A clarification is being made to the rule which excludes buying the business from its previous owner from being considered as a qualifying investment, to clarify that this means buying any business from its previous owner.
Changes to Tier 2 (General) and (Intra-Company Transfer)
- Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 (General) after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses, as opposed to waiting until they have received their final results.
- Start dates will be able to be delayed for Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Migrants without restriction.
Changes to electronic entry clearance
- The Government proposes to commence issuing entry clearance in electronic form as opposed to requiring entry clearance to be endorsed in a valid passport or other identity document. This will initially be trialled with specified groups with a view to general introduction of entry clearance in electronic format at a subsequent date.
Changes to Visitors
- Visitors who hold a standard or marriage/civil partnership visit visa will be able to transit the UK without the need to obtain a separate visa. Currently, a person who requires a visa to visit the UK for business, tourism, to get married or for other visit purposes must obtain a separate visa in order to transit the UK.