The Home Office introduced a raft of changes to the Points‑Based System Immigration Rules on 6 April 2014:
- One major announcement that will have far reaching consequences is that the Tier 1 (General) route will close to extension applications on 6 April 2015, and will then close to settlement applications on 6 April 2018. Current Tier 1 (General) migrants will have to switch into a suitable alternative visa category, apply for settlement if they are eligible, or leave the UK entirely. Employers should be aware of these dates and ensure that suitable steps are taken to retain any employees with a Tier 1 (General) visa.
- The changes will also affect Tier 2 migrants, with some revisions benefitting long‑ term migration. For example, applicants will be able to apply for a five year visa immediately, removing the need to extend the visa, after which time they can either leave the UK, apply for a visa extension or apply for settlement if they are eligible, depending on their Tier 2 sub‑category.
- The minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2 migrants have been uplifted across the board, albeit by a small margin. Employers should ensure that any future applicants can satisfy the new salary thresholds. The maintenance thresholds for applicants demonstrating their financial self‑sufficiency will also increase from July 2014.
- A more positive step for employees sees reductions in the evidence required for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants by removing certain documentary requirements, such as the need for third party funding declarations to be provided where funds are held in a joint account with the applicant’s spouse or partner and changing the contents of financial letters to better reflect current banking practice. In all, these changes, whilst fairly minor, will assist Entrepreneurs in collating the requisite evidence for their visa applications.