Notable changes include changes to application fees, the business visitor rules, and the introduction of a super premium service for applications submitted in the United States.

The UK Home Office has released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, which outlines changes that will take effect on 6 April. These changes are in addition to those we wrote about in our update in February (access the February update). Set out below are the main changes that will affect employers. Changes to Codes of Practice and Minimum Salary Thresholds The Home Office intends to increase the Tier 2 minimum salary thresholds and increase the salary rates set out in some of the current codes of practice. The table below illustrates the new minimum salary thresholds.

Click here to view table.

Application Fees The Home Office will increase the majority of visa application fees. The most notable increase, however, will be for in-country Tier 1 (Investor) applications and for those applying for same-day processing for an application for ILR for which the application fee will increase to £1,500. Tier 2 Cooling-Off Period The cooling-off period will no longer apply to those individuals who have been granted Tier 2 leave of three months or less, which will improve flexibility for businesses that need to transfer key staff for short periods, rather than to fill ongoing vacancies in the UK. Visitors The current visitor routes will be consolidated into four routes:

Click here to view table.

Student visitors will be rebranded as short-term study routes and will form part of Tier 4 of the Points Based-System.

The permitted activities for each of the four visitor routes will be expanded to allow the following:

  • Unpaid volunteering for up to 30 days at a UK-registered charity
  • Overseas trainers to deliver training to UK-based employees of multinational companies where the training is part of a contract to deliver global training to the corporate group
  • UK-based organisations that are not corporate entities to provide training to overseas visitors on work practices and techniques needed for their employment overseas
  • Overseas lawyers to advise UK clients on international transactions and litigation provided that they remain paid overseas

There will be no changes to the rules for permitted paid engagements, marriage and civil partnership, and transit visitors.

Changes to Tier 1 of the Points-Based System

Tier 1 (General) Route

Starting on 6 April 2015, the Tier 1 (General) route will close to extension applications and Tier 1 (General) migrants will no longer be permitted to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category unless an individual has already established a UK business before 6 April 2015 or he or she has funding from a government department or endorsed seed funding competition.

Tier 1 (General) migrants will have until 6 April 2018 to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, after which applications will no longer be permitted.

Tier 1 (Investor)

The minimum age of applicants is being increased to 18, and all prospective Tier 1 (Investors) will now be required to open a UK-regulated investment account before making an initial application. This will ensure that UK banks carry out due diligence on investors before they apply to come to the UK. Once a Tier 1 (Investors) application is approved, the applicant will be required to maintain all capital within its investment portfolios. Buying and selling will be permitted provided that the capital is not withdrawn.

The changes set out above are in addition to the changes in our February update.

Super Priority Service: New York

The British Consulate General New York has launched a super priority visa service to enable applicants to receive a decision on their application within 24 hours.

The service costs an additional $936 (approximately £613) and is available to eligible customers (including Tier 2 applicants) who are or can be in New York.