United Kingdom – Changes to the Immigration Rules

United Kingdom – Changes to the Immigration Rules

What is changing?

On December 7, 2017, the Home Office has published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. The majority of these changes addressed in this Statement will come into effect on January 11, 2018.

Who will be affected?

•Clients employing sponsored migrants and dependants of such migrants

What to expect

The Statement of Changes published December 7 covers a broad range of immigration topics. A summary of the key changes follows.

Rules relaxed for students switching to Tier 2: General visas

The rules currently in place require students to pass their courses before they are eligible to switch to a Tier 2 General visa. As of January 11, 2018, Tier 4 students will be able to pursue a Tier 2 General visa application immediately on completion of their studies.

Genuine relationship requirement for family members of Points Based System migrants

The Immigration Rules for partners of points-based system (PBS) migrants currently require the relationship to be subsisting at the time a dependent application is made. In an attempt to consolidate the Rules, the wording is now being amended to be in line with the requirements applicable to spouses of British citizens and settled migrants. The new requirement will be that the relationship is both ‘genuine and subsisting’ at the time of the application. It is not clear at this point whether this change will translate into an additional burden of evidence for the applicants. However, based on the requirements for a spousal visa, which contain the same wording, we can expect that evidence of co-habitation will now be required.

Travel restriction on partners of PBS migrants applying for indefinite leave to remain

Partners of Tier 2 and other points-based system migrants have previously not been subject to any restriction on absences from the United Kingdom (UK) when applying for indefinite leave to remain. For example, a dependent spouse of a Tier 2 General migrant could spend the majority of their time outside the UK and still obtain indefinite leave to remain in line with their partner. Under the new Rules, an absences limit of 180 days per year will apply to periods of residence spent in the UK pursuant to an immigration permission applied for on or after January 11, 2018. There will be no such requirement in respect of any period of residence that preceded this date.

Electronic Entry Clearance

At the moment, an entry clearance takes the form of a vignette that is attached to a page in the applicant’s passport (otherwise known as a visa). A provision has now been added to the Rules which will enable UK Visas and Immigration to issue entry clearance documents in an electronic format without the need for a vignette to be endorsed in the person’s passport. The scheme will initially be piloted in a limited number of locations, and it will probably be a while before it is fully rolled out.

Increase in number of Exceptional Talent visas available

The Exceptional Talent visa has historically been one of the most restricted immigration categories, with only 1000 places available a year. These places are currently allocated among the Designated Bodies, which assigned them to candidates they considered to be exceptionally talented within their field. An additional pool of 1000 endorsements will be made available to the Designated Bodies on a first-come first-served basis. The total number of places within the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is therefore increasing from 1000 to 2000 per year. Furthermore, in line with the other Tier 1 sub-categories, expedited settlement will now also be available to the Exceptional Talent migrants after three (3) years, subject to meeting criteria.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur category: Recycling of funds

A change is being introduced to prevent funds or investments already used for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application from being used by another applicant. This is to prevent multiple individuals relying on the same funds to secure entry to the UK in the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category. Separately, a clarification is being added to the Rules confirming that buying a business from a previous owner will not be considered a qualifying investment.

What you need to do

Planning ahead
•Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.