The main changes to the Immigration Rules

On 9 September 2019, the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. This article briefly sets up the main changes.

Amendments to the Tier 1 (Investor) category

The Tier 1 (Investor) category is for high net worth individuals who invest at least £2 million in UK companies. Applicants must provide evidence of their available funds for at least 2 years. In addition, migrants can no longer invest their cash into bonds. Therefore, those Tier 1 (Investor) migrants who are going to apply for an extension or settlement after 4 April 2023 or 6 April 2025, must convert their qualifying funds held in UK bonds prior to their applications.

Changes relating to the Tier 2 (General) category

PhD level occupations have been removed from the Tier 2 (General) cap, which is set at 20,700 (divided into monthly allocations). This means that PhD researchers and other highly skilled individuals will free up places for other Tier 2 (G) applicants from 6 October 2019. In addition, if PhD migrants undertake research overseas directly related to their Tier 2 employment, those absences would not be ‘counted’ when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This also applies to their partners.

Roles on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirement and from the Tier 2 salaries’ threshold when migrants apply for ILR. New occupations have now been added to the Shortage List, for example, 2112 Biological Scientists and Biochemists and 2216 Veterinarians.

Moreover, amendments are being made to Appendix J to correct salary rates for a small number of occupational codes. These rates apply to applications made with a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) assigned on or after 6 October 2019.

Furthermore, Tier 2 migrants will be no longer penalised if they were to be absent from work due to sickness, assisting in a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis or engaging in legal strike action. This means a Tier 2 migrant will not be refused settlement if these absences were to cause their salaries to fall below the required threshold. The Immigration Rules already contain exemptions for applicants who are on maternity, paternity, shared parental, or adoption leave.

Changes to the Start-up and the Innovator visa

On 29 March 2019, the Home Office introduced two new categories: Start-up and Innovation Scheme, allowing migrants to establish an innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK. Applicants also need to submit an endorsement letter with their applications. Under the Start-up visa, migrants were not allowed to rely on a previously established UK business. However, this requirement does not apply to Tier 4 (General) students on the doctorate extension scheme.

Amendments to the English Language Test and Life in the UK test

Applicants are no longer required to provide original documents as proof of passing the ‘English Language Test’ and the ‘Life in the UK test’. They only need to provide the unique reference number for checking.

Changes to switching from Tier 4 into Tier 2

A Tier 4 migrant is now permitted to switch into the Tier 2 scheme within 3 months of the expected end date of their programmes.

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