Yesterday the UK Border Agency announced several changes to the Immigration Rules which will come into effect on 13 December 2012.  Some of the changes are significant and will affect migrants in Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the Points Based System.

The most significant changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 are:

Tier 1 (Investor)

  • Curtailment of leave for failing to maintain investments
  • Secured investments and investments in offshore custody will not qualify

The requirement that the investment must be maintained for the duration of the investor's leave in this category, which is currently contained in UK Border Agency guidance, has now been incorporated into the Rules.  The UK Border Agency can also curtail the investor's visa/residence permit if the investor does not maintain the investment.

The UK Border Agency has also clarified that investments against which the investor has taken loans or investments held in offshore custody will not qualify.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

  • Lower English language level
  • Tier 4 students prevented from switching

The English language requirement has been lowered from level C1 (advanced) to level B1 (intermediate) which brings the English language requirement in line with Tier 2 (General).

Tier 4 students will no longer be able to switch into this category unless they are relying on the provision that they have £50,000 funding from a specified source (registered venture capitalist firms, UK Government or Devolved Administration Departments).  The idea is that Tier 4 students will use the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route instead.

Tier 2

  • Tier 2 ICT Long Term migrants earning at least £150,000 can spend up to 9 years in the UK
  • Cooling off period to run from when migrant leaves the UK
  • Supplementary employment allowed in a different occupation if role is on shortage occupation list
  • Migrants can spend up to 180 days outside the UK each year and still qualify for ILR

Currently Tier 2 ICT Long Term migrants can only spend a total of 5 years in the UK.  Those migrants earning at least £150,000 will be able to spend a total of 9 years in the UK as a Tier 2 ICT Long Term migrant instead of the current 5 years.

There will be a change to the cooling off period which means that the period will start to run from when the migrant leaves the UK instead of the end of their visa.  Currently the cooling off period runs for 12 months from the expiry of the visa.  The onus will be on the migrant to demonstrate when they left the UK.

Tier 2 migrants will be able to undertake supplementary employment up to 20 hours a week in a role that is in a different occupation as long as it is on the shortage occupation list.  Currently Tier 2 migrants can only undertake supplementary employment if it is in the same occupation and at the same professional level.

Tier 2 migrants will now be able to spend 180 days outside the UK each year and still qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.  The migrant will need to show that the absence is consistent with their employment e.g. business trips, conferences, annual leave or for serious or compelling reasons such as illness of a close relative.