Changes to the points based system announced on 7th Dec 2017, have come in to effect on 11th Jan 2018. On 7 December 2017 the government announced changes to the Immigration Rules. These Amendments have brought a lot of clarity with regards to certain provisions that were in existence, especially with regards to Tier 1 Entrepreneur. There are some positive changes that encourages students and Tier1 Exceptional talented applicants. However, the amendment with regards to continuous period of stay to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) has been under the spotlight, particularly with applicants who have invested GBP 200,000 in UK and have entered UK as Tier 1 Entrepreneur. PBS dependents have also been impacted with these changes in qualifying criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Smartmove2uk has listed a summary of the main changes. These changes are likely to affect businesses, employees and their dependents:

Changes to the points based system categories which will come into effect from 11 January 2018 are as follows:

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The number of spaces available under this route will double from 1,000 to 2,000 this year.

Those granted visas under the exceptional talent criteria will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years instead of five years. In our opinion this will encourage more applicants under this category to make UK their home.

Further it is observed by Smartmove Principal Solicitor that in practice, applications under this category are fairly limited and this is likely to result in becoming another option for very highly- skilled migrants working in specific industries.

Tier 1 Investor

Investors who entered the category before 6 November 2014 may rely on the un-mortgaged portion of their main home. Changes are being made to this provision to clarify that the property must be the applicant’s main home, and also to provide, where the property is co-owned in a tenancy in common, that the investor’s share, and only the investor’s share, may count.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

  • “Attributes” for Tier 1 Entrepreneur have been redrafted in light of increasing number of applications received by UKVI under this category. Amendments have been made with regards to funds relied by applicant for investment. Applicants will not be able to rely on funds or investments taken by another Tier 1 Entrepreneur or close family members. Close family members have not been defined but will be considered on a case to case basis. For the Tier 1 Entrepreneur whose businesses are funded by a venture capitalist must confirm that the venture capital fund is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority and they must provide a letter from the firm confirming the date the funds were transferred to the applicant or invested in their business.
  • Changes are made with regards to provisions for job creation, and payments are made to ensure definite measures for job opportunities created by applicants under this category. Further under the new amendment the Entrepreneur will need to confirm the paid hours of the employees in jobs with the hourly rate to minimize the errors of calculation.
  • Some amendments are being made to the requirements concerning format and contents of letters used as evidence in support of the application.

Tier 2 (General)

Exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test are being added for posts 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.

  • Health Care Sector Workers – Pay rates for health sector workers are being brought into line with pay scales in England and each of the devolved administrations, and consolidated in a new table.
  • Nurses – Provisions are being made to allow nurses to be sponsored under Tier 2 if they are undertaking an approved programme with a view of returning to practice.
  • The start date for employment cannot be pushed back by more than 28 days after entry clearance or leave to remain has been granted, or the start date as stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship, if later. This provision clears up some ambiguity which existed when the provision was first introduced in the Tier 2 sponsor guidance.
  • A provision that is currently set out in the Sponsor Guidance is being incorporated; it restricts how far a migrant’s start date may be put back before it becomes a prohibited change. The restriction now applies only to Tier 2 (General) Migrants, and only to any changes to start date which occur after leave has been granted.

Tier 4 Students switching to Tier 2.

  • Some good news for students; after 11th January 2018, they will be permitted to switch to Tier 2 on completion of their course. Presently it requires students to pass their course before being able to switch to Tier 2. Tier 4 students are permitted to switch to Tier 2 sponsorship without the sponsor being required to undertake the RLMT.
  • Tier 4 students studying part-time: Tier 4 (General) Students can now apply to study a part-time course under their Tier 4 visa as long as the course is studied at an academic level over Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Level 11 or Regulated Qualifications Framework level 7. Part-time students will not, however, be able to:
    – Extend their leave in the United Kingdom under the new Tier 4 rules;
    – Bring family members into the United Kingdom as a dependent under their visa;
    – Work during their studies; or
    – Switch visa categories in country.
  • PBS dependents.
    – Dependents of Point Based System (PBS) who make any visa application (including an extension application) on or after January 11th 2018, will need to ensure they are not away from the United Kingdom more than 180 days during any 12-month period from that point onwards. The reason for absence from the UK – work, leisure or any other reason – is not taken into account.
    – This will affect the entrepreneur who chooses to be dependent in order to have the flexibility of travelling out of UK for business, or to continue their existing businesses overseas ; it will affect the Tier 2 Migrants whose family members do not regularly reside in the United Kingdom.
  • PBS dependents submitting an application on or after January 11, 2018 will have to prove to the UKVI that their relationship to the main applicant is both subsisting and genuine. Previously, there was no requirement to evidence that the relationship was genuine.

Visitor Visas

The rule change permits visitors to “transit” if the visitors are holding valid visitor visa. A visitor holding a C – visit visa or marriage / civil partnership visit visa will be allowed to transit. They will no longer require to obtain a separate transit visa. Visitors will not be permitted to study at an academy or a school maintained by a Local Authority.

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