The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has today laid new Immigration Rules before Parliament, the majority of which are due to come into force on 13 December 2012. Some of the changes represent a relaxation of current rules whilst others are in response to abuse. Please click on the following link to read the Statement of policy for changes to the points-based system.

The changes cover applications under the points-based system in Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5, as well as family and private life applications. The main changes to Tier 1 and 2 are summarised below:

Tier 1

  • For Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) there will be a lowering of the English language requirement from level C1 (advanced) to level B1 (intermediate), in line with other points-based system categories in order to avoid deterring potentially successful entrepreneurs
  • Students under Tier 4 will no longer be able to switch to the entrepreneur route unless they have funding of at least £50,000 from a specified source such as registered venture capitalist firms, UK Government Departments or listed seed funding competitions
  • A Tier 1 (Investor) migrant’s visa will be cancelled if they do not maintain the required level of investment for the duration of their stay in this category
  • The rules will expressly state that loans cannot be secured on the investments relied on to obtain a Tier 1 (Investor) visa and nor can the investments be held in offshore custody

Tier 2

  • At present all Tier 2 intra company transfer (ICT) migrants are subject to a maximum stay in the UK of 5 years if they entered the UK in this category after 5 April 2011. Under the proposed rule changes those senior staff members earning £150,000 or more will be permitted to remain in the UK for up to 9 years
  • Where a migrant leaves the UK on or before the expiry of their visa a cooling off period applies to prevent the migrant from returning to the UK in this category for 12 months. Some flexibility is being introduced in the way that the start of the cooling off period is determined so that it can commence from the first date the migrant can prove they have left the UK, should they wish to return to the UK in this category 12 months later. This avoids having to wait until the date of expiry or curtailment of the visa by the UKBA
  • For all migrants in Tier 2 and other work routes who are eligible to apply to settle in the UK, permitted absences will increase to 180 days per year over the 5 years required to qualify
  • Migrants in Tiers 2 and 5 may undertake supplemental employment in a shortage occupation, even if this is a different occupation to the one they are being sponsored to work in

For family and private life applications there will be a relaxation of the rules in relation to the evidence to meet the financial requirements. Specifically, the list of documents to evidence employment in the UK has been scaled back where appropriate to do so and more copy documents will be acceptable where originals are not available.