On 9 December 2013, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced the Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules, HC 887. The following day, 10 December 2013, the Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules, HC 901 was also announced.

The Changes will bring about the following:

Electronic visa waiver

From 1 January 2014, nationals of Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates will be able to obtain an electronic visa waiver to travel to the UK. The Home Office intends to extend the scheme to nationals of Kuwait later on in 2014.

The new ‘electronic visa waiver scheme’ will be free of charge and an alternative to a visitor visa application. Under this scheme, there will be no need to enrol biometric information or attend a visa application centre before visiting the UK. Those eligible for the electronic visa waiver scheme will be able to travel to the UK after completing and printing out a short online form 48 hours before travel.

Further guidance on the scheme will shortly be published on the Home Office’s website.

Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur)

Applicants in this category must have been awarded a degree within the last 12 months. A change is being made to relax this requirement for applicants endorsed by UK Trade and Investment, allowing them to have graduated at any time before they apply. This change is being made owing to the timing of UK Trade and Investment’s endorsing programme the Sirius Programme and because overseas graduates may take longer to reach a decision to establish their business in the UK.

Armed forces

Further to the new appendix ‘armed forces’, which came into force on 1 December 2013, minor technical amendments have been made, including replacing the income threshold with a maintenance and accommodation requirement in respect of a child applicant where neither parent is subject to the income threshold, e.g. because both parents are serving or have leave on discharge from HM Forces.

Documents issued by the Holy See (Vatican City)

A person who holds a service, temporary service, or diplomatic passport issued by the Holy See, will no longer require a visa to visit the UK.

Tuberculosis testing

The Home Office is adding numerous countries to its list from which migrants applying to enter the UK for six months or more must be pre-screened for tuberculosis (“TB”). To see the list of countries, please click here. This will be introduced from 31 December 2013.