Changes to the Immigration Rules
The Home Office has published its most recent updates to the Immigration rules which will affect multiple visa types. Read Head of Immigration, Gemma Goodhead's summary of the key changes:
Entry Clearance Applications
The Home Office will trial the issuing of entry clearing visas in electronic form. The change in the statement will allow future applicants to be issued by electronic form or passport endorsements for entry clearance applications.
To date, visa nationals who are required to transit in the UK must apply for a specific Transit Visa to do so. However, those who already hold valid Standard Visit Visas or Marriage/Civil Partnership Visit Visas will be permitted to transit on this without needing to obtain a separate visa.
This is intended to save visa nationals coming to the UK to transit time and money where they already hold a valid long-term multiple entry visa to the UK.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas
This visa type is designed for those who are considered exceptionally talented in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts, and digital technology.
Each year, there is a quota of 1000 Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas on offer between the 5 competent bodies. This will be doubled to 2000, with the additional allocation being available on a ‘first-come-first-serve’ basis rather than being specifically linked to one of the bodies.
The Home Office has also reduced the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) under this category meaning the visa holders can apply for ILR after just 3 years residence, rather than the current 5-year requirement where certain criteria are satisfied.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas
This visa category is designed for those intending to set-up or take over a business in the UK by investing £200,000 into an approved limited company. Currently, these visas can only be extended in the UK providing the applicant is able to evidence that they have created two full-time jobs in their business which have existed for at least 12 months during the applicant’s recent period of leave. A change is being made to enable applicants to apply even if their current leave was granted less than 12 months ago; in such cases, the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of the current application.
The Home Office has introduced a series of amendments designed to prevent mistakes and misunderstandings in the processing of the application form.
In addition, they have closed a loop-hole in the recycling of funds between applicants, so an applicant can no longer rely on money gifted to them by another Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder, or their business/family members.
Tier 2 General Visas
Tier 2 General visas are issued to skilled migrants who have appropriate job offers in the UK. The Home Office has made a number of changes including:
- Tier 4 General visa holders are now able to switch to Tier 2 General when they have completed their courses, rather than when they receive their final results.
- Exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test are being added for posts to be held by researcher applications who are recipients of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council.
- A new application for further leave to remain will be required where the start date changes to a date more than 28 days from the date on the visa, or the start date on the CoS after the leave has been granted.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), partners of points based system migrants must show that they have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days per year in order to qualify. This is a major change as previously some visa applications e.g. Tier 1 Investor were strategically structured so that the “main applicant” was the spouse who intended to be based in the UK (thereby limiting absences and preserving eligibility for ILR) and the “dependant” was the spouse who needed to travel. This will no longer be possible without also affecting the dependant’s eligibility for ILR.
Furthermore, there is no longer a requirement for Tier 2 General migrants to be continuously employed throughout the qualifying period to be eligible for settlement.
Tier 4 Visas
These are designed for those looking to study in the UK. The Home Office have permitted part-time students to obtain Tier 4 visas. However, these students will not be given work rights, will not be able to bring dependants and will not be able to extend in the UK.
Additionally, the rules on academic progression are being updated to allow students to apply for leave to remain from within the UK to complete a work placement or a study abroad programme, or to complete their course, after having completed a work placement or study abroad programme.
Work rights for dependants of Tier 4 students are being updated to ensure these remain if the main applicant is applying for, or has been granted leave, to study the same course for which they have previously been granted leave of 12 months or more under this visa category.