The Home Office has recently published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules. Most of these changes will come into force on 6th November 2014. Any applications made before 6th November 2014 will be considered under the previous rules.

The changes will mostly affect migrants seeking to enter or remain in the UK under the Points Based System.

Tier 1 – Investor

One of the most significant changes to the Rules is the increase in the required investment funds for Investors. This has been doubled from £1 million to £2 million.

Investors will also need liquid cash funds for the investment and will no longer be able to rely on the value of their personal assets less liabilities or loaned money to qualify for the £2million threshold.

The investor no longer needs to “top up” his/her investment if the market value falls below the £2million threshold. The Investor will only be required to demonstrate that the initial investment was above the £2million threshold.

This marks a change in the way the funds can be invested. Previously only 75% (£750,000 of £1 million) of the investment fund needed to be invested. Under the new Rules, 100% (£2 million) of the investment fund will need to be invested in UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.

Tier 2 – Genuine Vacancy

Immigration Officers can now apply a Genuine Vacancy Test to any Tier 2 application. Applicants will fail this test and their application will be refused if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job does not genuinely exist or has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold. In addition the application will also fail if the applicant is not appropriately qualified for the role.

Applications requiring the completion of a resident labour market test will also be rejected if the job as stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship and in any advertisements are inappropriate for the job on offer and/or have been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.

A genuine vacancy is defined as “a vacancy which exists in practice (or would exist in practice were it not filled by the applicant) for a position which:

  • Requires the job holder to undertake the specific duties and responsibilities, for the weekly hours and length of the period of engagement, described by the Sponsor in the Certificate of Sponsorship relating to the applicant: and
  • Does not include dissimilar and/or unequally skilled duties such that the Standard Occupational Code used by the Sponsor as stated in the Certificate of Sponsorship relating to the applicant is appropriate”

Immigration Officers now have the discretion to request further information from both the sponsor and the applicant in relation to the above should they deem it necessary. Once a request has been made the information requested will need to be received within 28 calendar days or the application will be refused.

Tier 2 – Third party work

The Rules now include clarity on the ability of applicants to work for third parties or contractors to undertake on going routine work. Applications will be refused if the applicant is hired:

  • To a third party who is not the sponsor to fill a position with that party, whether temporary or permanent; or
  • To undertake contract work on an ongoing routine role for a third party who is not the sponsor.

Tier 3 – Intra Company Transfer (ICT)

The Rules have been changed to rectify a previous drafting error regarding the status of people switching from Tier 2 (ICT) to Tier 2 (General) in the UK. The Home Office have now affirmed that time spent in the Tier 2 (ICT) category does not count towards the 6 year limit as a Tier 2 (General) migrant.

Tier 4

As of 20th October 2014, students will lose their right of appeal when they have been refused further leave to remain under Tier 4 of the Points Based System.

Tier 5

The annual allocations for the participating countries in the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) for 2015 have been confirmed. The participating countries are: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.

There has been a 16% increase in the allocation for New Zealand nationals.