The Government has published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. These changes will begin to come into effect from 28th December 2017, with the majority taking effect from 11th January 2018. The changes relate to a range of categories within the rules. The most pertinent for those interested in business and economic migration include:
Electronic Entry Clearance
The Government intends to commence issuing entry clearance in electronic form. Initially this will be introduced on a trial basis with a few specified groups with a view to a comprehensive roll out at a later date. The amendment to the rules will permit entry clearance to be issued both in an electronic form and by endorsement in a passport or Biometrics Residence Permit.
Applicants who hold an electronic entry clearance will not be required to present a copy to an immigration officer on arrival. The officer will be able to check the entry clearance electronically once a passport has been presented.
Indefinite Leave to Remain in Work Categories
The requirement to have had absences from the UK of no more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) currently applies to main applicants only. The Immigration Rules will extend this requirement to partners of Points Based System migrants.
The rule change will not have retrospective effect. Only absences from the UK during periods of leave to remain granted under the rules in place from 11th January 2018 will count towards the 180 days.
In future therefore it will be essential for partners (including spouses, civil partners and qualifying unmarried partners) to maintain a schedule of absences and to ensure that they do not spend more than the permitted 180 days over a 12 month period outside the UK.
This change will particularly impact Tier 1 (Investor) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants who entered the UK as a couple and selected the partner with the least intention to travel to be the “main applicant”. For practical reasons, investors in particular may have placed funds in the name of their partner in order to free up travel time. The rule change will constrain the travel options of international business people who obtain leave to remain through their spouse/partner.
The rules will also be amended to provide clarification (and to remove duplication or inconsistency) relating to:
How the end date of the qualifying period for settlement is ascertained;
How the maximum 180 days absence from the UK per year are counted for the purpose of settlement applications;
How time lawfully spent in the Isle of Man or Channel Islands in equivalent immigration routes can be counted towards time spent in the UK for the purpose of a settlement application.
Tier 1 Exception Talent
The number of places available per year under this category is to be doubled to 2000. These places can be allocated by Designated Competent Bodies (DCB) in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, arts and digital technology.
“World leaders” in their fields will be able to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 3 years continuous residence.
“Potential future leaders” in their field (those endorsed under DCBs “exceptional promise” criteria) will continue to qualify for settlement after 5 years continuous residence.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur
The “attributes” requirements for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category are to be re-written to make them clearer and easier to follow.
A number of amendments are to be made to the evidential requirements for the entrepreneur route, however these will not impact on the principal criteria.
Tier 1 Investor
Investors who entered the category before 6th November 2014 (and can therefore rely on a £1 million investment) may rely on the un-mortgaged portion of their main home for up to £250,000 of the investment. The rules are being amended to clarify that the property must be the applicant’s main home, and also to provide that when the property is co-owned in a tenancy in common, that the investors share, and only the investors share, may count.
Tier 2 General
Flexibility will be introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 after their studies as soon as they have completed their courses. Currently non-PHD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results.
Exemptions from the resident labour market test are being added for posts to be held by research applicants who are recipients of supernumerary research awards and fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by a higher education institution or research council.
How we can help
Please do not hesitate to contact your Magrath Sheldrick representative or write to [email protected] for guidance in respect of any aspect of the UK immigration rules.