Changes to the Immigration Rules in force from 11 January 2018

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The Government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules, which came into effect on 11 January 2018.

On 7 December 2017 the Government published changes to the Immigration Rules that came into effect on 11 January 2018. Applications submitted before 11 January 2018 will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 10 January 2018. The key changes include:

Electronic entry clearance

Entry clearance will be in an electronic form as opposed to the traditional stamp in a migrant’s passport. This scheme will be trialled initially with a wider rollout to follow.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The number of available endorsements under this category will double from 1,000 to 2,000 places a year.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The attribute requirements for this category have been tightened up.

Tier 2 (General)

The Government has revoked the requirement for a Tier 2 holder to have continuous employment throughout the 5 years residence required for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The worker’s visa will still be curtailed to 60 days from their last date of employment. This change will mean that Tier 2 migrants with over 60 days of breaks in their employment during their time in the UK will still be able to apply for ILR.

Flexibility is also being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses. Currently non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results. This is good news for sponsors who will be able to sponsor a student once they have completed their course of study in the UK rather than having to wait for their results to be published.

Exemptions from the resident labour market test will also be introduced for researchers 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 in a bid to attract more researchers to the UK.

Tier 5

The annual quota of places available under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) will be updated. There will be an increase from 13,000 to 14,000 places for New Zealand nationals and from 5,500 to 6,000 for Canadian nationals. There will be a reduction from 35,500 to 34,000 places for Australian nationals.

Points Based System (PBS) dependants

Prior to 11 January 2018, the requirement not to have spent more than 180 days a year outside the UK during the 5-year qualifying period for ILR has only applied to the main applicant and not their dependants. Under the new rules, the absence requirement will be extended to PBS dependants.  PBS dependants submitting an application from 11 January 2018 will also have to prove that their relationship to the main applicant is both subsisting and genuine. Previously, there was no requirement to evidence that the relationship was genuine.

This change may result in potential migrant workers being deterred from coming to the UK if their dependants are not prepared to make the commitment of spending at least half of each year in the UK from the outset.

Business immigration can a very complex area particularly given the current state of flux caused by Brexit. We have a specialist business immigration team who can assist with any queries.