On June 15th, the UK Immigration agencies announced several changes to the immigration rules and laws. The changes will go into effect on July 6th, 2018 and affect Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 4 visas and other categories of immigrants. Caroline Nokes, UK Immigration Minister discussed the changes and stated that:
“Today’s changes show that we are able to adapt to meet the demands of our frontline services and ensure we are able to attract people who can bring real benefits to our creative industries.
At the same time, we are confirming our commitment to those children in need with our ongoing support while demonstrating our recognition for people who have risked their lives by serving with our armed forces”.
The most significant immigration rule changes are summarized below.
Tier 1 Visa Changes
The changes in the Tier 1 visa concern those with exceptional talents and investors.
Exceptional Talents Visa
In addition to the existing considerations for exceptional talents, the new rules now have been made to include those in the fashion industry. More specifically, those who operate leading fashion designer businesses can apply for the Exceptional talent visa and will be evaluated by the British Fashion Council in cooperation with the Arts Council England.
Additionally, those who want to start businesses in the UK, especially high-tech start-ups are also eligible to apply for the Tier 1 visa. This is being called the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme and was announced on June 13th. It aims to increase the number of high-skilled workers in the UK.
To maintain their Tier 1 Investor visa, investors were initially required to submit evidence that they have maintained the required £2 million investment. The evidence included a portfolio report signed by a financial institution that was regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The new immigration rules make this requirement more regulated by asking for the financial institution’s confirmation that the funds have gone into qualifying investments and that the investor does not have a loan that is secured against the investment funds.
Tier 2 Visa Changes
The Tier 2 visa changes include relaxation of rules for doctors and nurses, the percent of shares that a Tier 2 migrant can hold in the company that has sponsored them, and some other minor changes.
Nurses and Doctors
Until now, the Tier 2 General Visa included doctors and nurses in their monthly Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) limit; however, with the new rules, these professionals are now excluded from it. This change is suggested to free up to 40% of Tier 2 places according to the Home Office, which can reduce the long wait time for processing.
Despite this change, companies will still have to prove that they were unable to find a UK worker for the position, but the visas will be allocated from the company’s unrestricted COS allocation.
Even though this move may make processing faster, it could create some problems, especially for those employers who hire short-term foreign employees for seasonal jobs. Instead of immediately getting the visas from their allocation of restricted COS, they now have to wait until they have enough unrestricted COS to start the sponsorship process.
Migrant Share Ownership
The new rules specify that Tier 2 migrants can only hold 10% of the shares in their sponsor company. This includes shares held directly and indirectly. The previous rule only counted shares held directly.
Other changes to the Tier 2 visa include:
- Changing all references from the service “Universal Jobmatch” to “Find a Job Scheme”.
- Any Tier 2 applicants who are applying for settlement after July 6th, 2018, will have to submit evidence of the birth of a child or adoption if they took any leave from work. This includes maternity, paternity, and shared parental or adoption leave.
Tier 4 Visa Changes
The Tier 4 Student Visa changes include eligibility for dependents, evidence for qualifications and documents requirements.
Eligibility for Dependents
Students with Tier 4 visas had to be enrolled in a postgraduate course for 12 months to be eligible to bring their dependents with them to the UK. The new changes reduce this length of time to 9 months only.
Evidence for Qualifications
The Home Office requested original certificates of qualification and transcripts for students to prove their previous qualifications. Now with the new changes, it will accept printouts but has the authority to request the originals.
Document Requirements and ATAS Certificates
The changes have reduced document requirements from students from the following countries:
- China and the Macau SAR
- Dominican Republic
Additionally, students who study or conduct research for any period of time for their overseas postgraduate qualifications must submit their ATAS certificates. The old rule was that students did not have to submit this certificate if they studied or did research for less than 6 months.
Other Changes to Immigration Rules
The other immigration changes are the following.
The Dubs Amendment
Immigration will now allow children who do not qualify for humanitarian or refugee protection leave to remain in the UK for the long term. These children will be allowed to study, access healthcare and public funds, and apply for settlement after 5 years without fees.
Afghan interpreters and their dependents or family members will be allowed to apply for settlement after residing in the UK for 5 years.
Calculation of Absences
After changing this rule in January 2018, the government is reversing it in terms of how to calculate absences. Applicants who apply for leave cannot have more than 180 days of absences if they want to stay in the work-related category.
Continuity of Leave
The Home Office has found that there are differences in the continuity of leave provisions for those applying in the country and those applying outside the country, so it is making changes to make them the same. With the new rules, if an application was not accepted in the UK, then the applicant can apply again out of the country within 14 days after the refusal without affecting the continuity of leave.
The new immigration rules are now making it easier for returning residents to apply for re-entry into the UK. It also makes a difference between those who have not been in the UK for less than 2 years and those who have been outside for more than 2 years.
The latter category can apply to re-enter the UK by proving strong ties to the country and intentions to make the UK their permanent settlement which is different from past rules which required exceptional circumstances to take an application into consideration.
Electronic Visa Waiver
To make the journey to the UK smoother and faster, the new rules will allow those who have Electronic Visa Waivers (EVW) to present them in a digital format, instead of always needing hard copies.
Turkish ECCA Workers
Finally, Turkish business people who are in the UK with the EU-Turkey European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) can now settle in the UK after five years.