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Changes To The Immigration Rules Coming Into Effect On 11th January 2018

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On the 7th December 2017, the Home Office released to Parliament the Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules HC309.

There are several aims behind these changes, including:

  • taking into account the commencement of the Immigration bail provisions in Schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016
  • allow for the electronic issuing of entry clearance
  • allow standard and marriage/civil partnership visit visa holders to transit using the same visa
  • provide consistency around the rules relating to Indefinite Leave to Remain in relation to work categories for applicants and their dependents
  • raise the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa allocations from 1,000 per year to 2,000
  • clarify rules around the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
  • make new provisions under the Tier 2 visa route for research positions and those switching from a Tier 4 visa

Many of these changes will come into effect on the 11th of this month.

The key changes to the Immigration Rules coming into effect

Electronic Entry Clearance

We live in an electronic age. The last time I went to the movies, I simply scanned my phone across a screen on arrival and my pre-booked tickets were automatically issued. You can even check in online for an overseas flight. It, therefore, makes sense that UK border control moves into the 21st century to embrace electronic entry clearance. Under the new system, which, will be trialled by specific groups before it is rolled out nationwide, anyone with entry clearance issued in electronic form will have this checked electronically. They will not need to present entry clearance to an Immigration officer when they arrive in the UK.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

Britain needs talent. With a large number of EEA nationals leaving the country because of the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, certain sectors such as tech and those involving STEM disciplines desperately need to attract talented, highly-skilled people in order to grow. The government appears to have listened to business (which is a rare event when matters of Immigration are involved), and has doubled the number of places available under the exceptional talent route to 2,000. In addition, ‘world leaders’ in their field will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain within three years (as long as they meet the continuous residence requirements.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The ‘attributes’ requirements listed in Appendix A of the Immigration Rules are being rewritten so they are easier to follow and understand.

The requirement that the job created for a settled person must have existed for 12 months during the applicants most recent period of leave to remain has been amended slightly. Under the changes, applicants can apply even if their current leave was granted less than 12 months ago; in such cases, the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of the current application.

The number of paid hours a settled person is employed for will need to be provided for any job created, in addition to the employee’s hourly remuneration rate. Also, the evidence required to show a job has been created as part of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa requirements must relate to the period before the applicant joined the business. This is to demonstrate the true value their applicant has added to the organisation since joining.

To stop funds being recycled, a change is being made preventing applicants being able to rely on the required funds of £50,000 or £200,000 being provided by an existing Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder.

The rule which excludes buying the business from its previous owner from being considered as a qualifying investment, is being clarified to state that this means buying any business from its previous owner.

Tier 1 Investor Visa

Investors who entered the UK on a Tier 1 Investor Visa prior to 6th November 2014 can rely on the equity they have in their home to make up the balance of funds. This rule has been clarified to state that the property must be the applicant’s main residence and, where they own the property as a tenancy in common, only the investor’s portion of the property will be taken into account.

Tier 2 General Visa

Under the changes, students will be permitted to switch straight to a Tier 2 Visa as soon as they have completed their course.

Positions to be held by researcher applicants who are recipients of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships, and for established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council, will be exempt from the Residential Labour Market Test.

Indefinite Leave to Remain in most points-based categories

One major change that seems to have been introduced by stealth is the requirement that most points-based category migrants cannot be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period from 11th January 2018.

Previously the Immigration Rules stated an applicant could not be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any of the five 12-month periods preceding the date of the application.

Under the new rules, if the applicant has been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period, Indefinite Leave to Remain may be denied. At present, an applicant may divide a long absence from the country over two 12-month blocks. This will no longer be permitted after 11th January 2018.

Senior executives and sales staff, who are required to travel extensively to fulfil their role will need to pay careful attention to the number of days they are out of the country in any given 12-month period. This is imperative as if Indefinite Leave to Remain is denied, you may have to leave the UK. In most cases, you will not be permitted to reapply for another Tier 2 visa for at least 12-months. This could have damaging effects, not only for the organisation which employs you, but for your career.

Legal advice on the changes to the Immigration Rules

If you require any legal advice on the forthcoming changes, our Immigration lawyers are available to offer the best advice.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London and is a Legal 500 leading firm. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. Contact us on 0203 959 9123 to speak to one of our Immigration consultants.

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