On 9 September 2019, the Home Office presented its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 2631). A number of minor amendments are being introduced to the business, investment and talent immigration categories.
The changes will take effect on 1 October 2019. If an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain has been made before 1 October 2019, such applications will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 30 September 2019.
Changes to the Start-up and Innovator categories
- A change is being made to the Tier 4 (General) rules to allow students who have submitted a Start-up application supported by an endorsing body to commence their business activities whilst their application is being considered;
- An exemption from the requirement for ‘start-up’ applicants not to have previously established a UK business is being added for Tier 4 (General) students on the doctorate extension scheme;
- Changes are being made to bring Appendix W (which contains the rules for Startup and Innovator) into line with changes to the definition of higher education providers in the rules for Tier 4;
- Amendments are being made to clarify the requirements that an organisation must meet to become an endorsing body. It must have support from a core department led by a UK or devolved government minister, or a regionally-devolved authority led by a directly-elected mayor. Requests to become an endorsing body may be refused due to criminality, actions or behaviour which are non-conducive to the public good. Requests may also be refused due to potential or actual conflicts of interest, or conflicts with the purpose of the categories or with wider immigration policy; and
- A correction is being made to confirm that a checkpoint between an applicant and their endorsing body is not required after 24 months in the Start-up category, only in the Innovator category.
Changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) category
The following changes are being made to the Tier 1 (Investor) category:
- The changes made in March 2019 to closing dates are being flexed to allow applicants to make extension or settlement applications after these dates, provided that they move their qualifying investments out of UK Government bonds before either 6 April 2023 in the case of extension applications, or 6 April 2025 in the case of settlement applications.
- Another change will allow investors who do not meet those deadlines to apply for further extensions and settlement if they meet certain conditions; i.e. invest the full £2 million in qualifying investments before they apply for further extensions and maintain the full £2 million investment for the qualifying period required for settlement.
- The changes in March 2019 also increased the period for which applicants must provide evidence of their available funds from 90 days to 2 years. Some references to three months were missed in March’s rules changes and these are being corrected in line with the other references to 2 years.
- A drafting correction is being made to rectify an outdated reference to the definition of a regulated financial institution.
Changes to the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category
At the request of Tech Nation, one of the Designated Competent Bodies, a number of changes are being made:
- There must be three, rather than just two, letters of support provided by established organisations in the digital technology sector to permit more in-depth consideration of an individual’s skills and the contribution they would make to the sector;
- The phrase ‘product-led’ has been added to the requirements to ensure the route is used by migrants with the appropriate skill set; and,
- Minor changes have been made to ensure consistency between the Rules and guidance.
At the request of The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and The British Academy, the following changes are being made to increase the number of applicants in science, engineering, and humanities to take advantage of a simpler process under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. The Home Office has:
- Expanded the list of peer-reviewed fellowships to include fellowships awarded by the National Institute for Health Research;
- Expanded the criteria to include applicants who have held a peer-reviewed fellowship in the 12 months immediately prior to the date of application; and,
- Expanded the application criteria to allow a wider range of eligible senior academic or research positions to qualify.