A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 7 December 2017, with most of the changes coming into effect on 11 January 2018. Some of the main changes include;

Changes to Immigration Rules

A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 7 December 2017, with most of the changes coming into effect on 11 January 2018. Some of the main changes include;

Partners of PBS migrants

There is a significant change affecting partners of Tier 1, 2, 4 and 5 migrants. When the main visa holder applies for Indefinite Leave to Remain, they have to show they have not been out of the UK for more than 180 days, in any given 12 months, during the five year qualifying period. Currently there is no such restriction on dependants. However, the 180 day absence rule is being extended to partners of PBS migrants, who obtain leave after 11 January 2018.

This will particularly affect families where the partner spends time outside the UK, either to support children at school abroad, care for relatives such as elderly parents in another country, or due to their own work or business interests.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

As announced in the autumn Budget, the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visas will be doubled from 1,000 to 2,000. The extra places will not be allocated to any particular body, but will be available to those who have already used up their initial allocation for the year.

Applications for endorsement by the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering will be simpler for those who hold a peer-reviewed research fellowship with Research Councils UK, Wellcome Trust, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK or UK National Academies, or who have been appointed to particular senior academic or research positions.

Migrants with a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa will be able to apply for accelerated Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years of continuous residence. Those with a Tier 1 Exceptional Promise visa will still need to wait for the usual five year period.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

As expected, there has been some tinkering with the rules regarding Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants.

To prevent abuse, there are new provisions regarding the funds that can be relied upon:

  • to prevent recycling of monies, applicants cannot rely on funds or investment that have been provided by another Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or their business or close family member.
  • applicants relying on venture capital must provide a letter from the venture capital firm, confirming the date the funds were transferred/invested in the applicant’s business and that the firm was registered with the FCA at that time.
  • directors’ loans made after 19 November 2015 must be evidenced through readily identifiable transactions in the business bank statements.
  • buying any business from its previous owner will not count as a qualifying investment.

There are also some changes to the job creation requirements for renewals:

  • jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of application (as opposed to for 12 months during the last grant of leave).
  • information must be provided about paid hours, as well as the hourly rate for each job.

Tier 2 (General)

The Tier 2 sponsor guidance already provides that once a Tier 2 (General) migrant has been granted their visa, their sponsor cannot delay their start date by more than 28 days. This requirement is now incorporated into the Immigration Rules.

Applicants switching from Tier 4 (Student) to Tier 2 (General) will be able to apply for their new visa as soon as they have completed their course. Currently non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results. However sponsors who require a degree for a particular role may still want to delay assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship until they are satisfied the student will be awarded the necessary qualification.

Further exemptions to the Resident Labour Market test have been added for supernumerary research positions, where the applicant has been granted a scientific research award or fellowship, and for established research team members sponsored by a Higher Education Institution of Research Council. The change should simplify the sponsorship process for these employers.

Tier 4 (Student)

Currently Tier 4 Students must study on a full-time basis. Changes are being made to permit part-time study. Part-time students will not be allowed to work, will not be able to bring dependants with them and will not be able to switch category or renew their visa from within the UK.

Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)

The annual quota of places available under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme has been updated. This is based on reciprocal arrangements with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Monaco and Taiwan, who accept UK nationals on similar schemes. The number of places for Australians has reduced slightly, whilst there is an increase for Canada and New Zealand.

Electronic entry clearance

Currently entry clearance must be endorsed in a valid passport or other travel document; however, the new rules will allow entry clearance to be issued in electronic form. We understand that, so far, this has been trialled with a very small group of students.

It remains to be seen what impact this will have on the way employers are expected to carry out pre-employment right to work checks.

Immigration bail

The government is finally going to bring into force the provisions in the Immigration Act 2016 regarding immigration bail. This will replace temporary admission and temporary release.