Changes to the Immigration Rules (Part 1)

On 7 December 2017 the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes, which will be incorporated into a consolidated version of the Immigration Rules by 11 January 2018.

New changes relate to Tier 1 of the Point-Based System category. Since the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) visa category was closed in April 2012, new provisions relevant to switching to this category have been removed from the Immigration Rules as they are no longer applicable.

Changes have been made to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Scheme; significantly the Home Office has now doubled the number of places to apply under this route to 2,000. Additionally, new provisions will enable current “world leaders” in their fields to qualify for settlement in the UK after 3 years of continuous residence.

The “Attributes” requirements for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category in Appendix A have been re-written to make them more accessible and easier to follow. Minor changes are being made to the job creation, funding business, investments from a venture capital firm and to the requirements concerning format and contents of letters used as evidence.

Minor technical changes are being made in relation to evidence investments with National Savings and Investment under the Tier 1 (Investor) Scheme. More importantly, the Home Office have now clarified for those applicants, who entered this category before 6 April 2014, that the property must be the applicant’s main home and if the property is co-owned in a tenancy in common, that only the investor’s share will be taken into consideration.

The Home Office will introduce flexibility to enable students to switch to the Tier 2 General category after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses. Exemptions from the Resident Labour Market test are being added for posts to be held by applicants who are researches and recipients of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council.

The changes have also been introduced to pay rates for health sector workers and minor correction has been made to the Shortage Occupation List.

The Home Office will also introduce restrictions which would concern only the Tier 2 (General) Migrants and only to start dates which occur after leave has been granted.
A major change involves absences for spouses and partners of PBS Migrants. Until now the requirements to have had absences from the UK of no more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain were applied to main applicants only. From 11 January 2018 partners of PBS Migrants will also have to show absences from the UK in order to qualify for settlement. To ensure that this requirement does not have retrospective effect, only absences from the UK during the periods of leave granted under the rules in place from 11 January 2018 will count towards the 180 days.

In addition, the Home Office will not count absences when applicants have assisted with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Nevertheless, time lawfully spent in the Isle of Man or Channel Islands in equivalent immigration rules will be counted towards 180 days for the purpose of settlement.

The changes made to the above mentioned visa categories of the Point-Based System will come into force on 11 January 2018, except where an applicant has made an application for entry clearance or leave to remain using Certificate of Sponsorship that was assigned by Sponsor before 11 January 2018, the application will be decided in accordance with the rules in place on 10 January 2018.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the upcoming changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.