The UK Border Agency recently laid new immigration rules before Parliament, the majority of which are due to come into force on December 13 2012. Some of the changes represent a relaxation of current rules, while others are in response to abuse.
The changes cover applications under the points-based system in Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5, as well as family and private life applications. This update summarises the main changes to Tiers 1 and 2.
For Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) there will be a lowering of the English language requirement from level C1 (advanced) to level B1 (intermediate), in line with other points-based system categories, in order to avoid deterring potentially successful entrepreneurs.
Students under Tier 4 will no longer be able to switch to the entrepreneur route unless they have funding of at least £50,000 from a specified source, such as registered venture capitalist firms, UK government departments or listed seed funding competitions.
A Tier 1 (Investor) migrant's visa will be cancelled if he or she does not maintain the required level of investment for the duration of his or her stay in this category.
The rules will expressly state that loans cannot be secured on the investments relied on to obtain a Tier 1 (Investor) visa; nor can the investments be held in offshore custody.
At present, all Tier 2 intra-company transfer migrants are subject to a maximum stay in the United Kingdom of five years if they entered the country in this category after April 5 2011. Under the proposed rule changes, senior staff members earning £150,000 or more will be permitted to remain in the United Kingdom for up to nine years.
Where a migrant leaves the United Kingdom on or before the expiry of his or her visa, a cooling-off period applies to prevent the migrant from returning to the United Kingdom in this category for 12 months. Some flexibility is being introduced in the way that the start of the cooling-off period is determined so that it can commence from the first date that the migrant can prove he or she left the United Kingdom, should he or she wish to return to the United Kingdom in this category 12 months later. This avoids having to wait until the date of expiry or curtailment of the visa by the Border Agency.
For all migrants in Tier 2 and other work routes who are eligible to apply to settle in the United Kingdom, permitted absences will increase to 180 days per year over the five years required to qualify.
Migrants in Tiers 2 and 5 may undertake supplemental employment in a shortage occupation, even if this is a different occupation from the one in which they are being sponsored to work.
For family and private life applications, there will be a relaxation of the rules in relation to the evidence to meet the financial requirements. Specifically, the list of documents to prove employment in the United Kingdom has been scaled back where appropriate to do so and more copy documents will be acceptable where originals are unavailable.
For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email ([email protected]). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.
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