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UK Immigration Rules Changes 2019

Home Office publishes new Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules

The Government has announced a number of changes to the UK immigration rules, set to take effect from 10th January 2019.

We summarise the main changes below, but if you have any queries relating to the updates or any other UK immigration matter, please contact us.

Introduction of a new Start Up Visa  

A new Start-up visa was announced last summer, aimed at expanding the reach of the existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route to include non-graduates. Scheduled to go live in the Spring, the government is seeking to attract a wider pool of overseas talent wanting to set up new businesses in the UK.

Applicants will require endorsement by a business or higher education institution sponsor.

Further details are to follow in 2019.

Introduction of a New Innovator Visa to replace Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The Innovator Visa will be replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route in the Spring.

Applications will be open to experienced business persons, who will have to secure endorsement by a business sponsor on the basis of an assessment of the business idea, considering factors such as ‘innovation, viability and scalability’.

While details are yet to be confirmed of the new route, applications are still being accepted for the existing entrepreneur visa. Contact us for guidance if you are looking to submit an application under the existing route.

Reform of Current Tier 1 Investor Visa 

The Tier 1 Investor visa remains open to new applicants and for extensions.

The route is however currently undergoing a review, specifically in relation to the eligibility criteria. The outcome of this assessment is expected to result in reform of the visa route – for example, more stringent requirements in areas such as source of funds – with changes expected to go live in Spring 2019.

Applications and extensions are still being accepted under the current route. Contact us for advice and guidance while the route remains open.

Expansion of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Route

As a visa for talented leaders and promising future leaders, the Exceptional Talent visa is being expanded to include architects to the list of specialist fields. This builds on the number of Exceptional Talent visas available being doubled earlier this year.

Applicants will be required to be endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, in conjunction with the Arts Council England. 

In addition, digital technology applicants seeking endorsement through the Tech Nation online application form will no longer have to provide printed copies to the Home Office of their supporting evidence.

Tier 4 students – change to evidence of funds access

Tier 4 students relying on student loans or funds from official financial sponsors are no longer required to show the funds have been held for a period of 28 consecutive days. The applicant must instead show they have the funds available to them on the date of application, except where the funds are a financial loan, in which case the applicant can separately confirm when the funds will be available to them.

Change to Tier 2 ICT 

Tier 2 (ICT) applicants extending leave in the UK are required to obtain an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate before studying a postgraduate qualification in certain sensitive subjects.

Changes to Tier 5 Visa Religious Workers and Charity Workers

A number of changes are being made to the Tier 5 visa route that will specifically affect charities and religious institutions.

Rule changes will see Ministers of Religion having to apply through the Tier 2 visa Minister of Religion sub-category instead of the Tier 5 Religious Workers category. Applicants will become subject to the English language requirement and have to demonstrate they speak English to an acceptable standard. 

In addition,  a ‘cooling off period’ is being introduced for Tier 5 religious workers and charity workers, preventing visa holders from returning to the UK via these immigration routes for 12 months after their visa expires. 

Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme for Non-EU workers

A new two-year pilot scheme for seasonal employment in the horticultural sector is to be introduced in 2019. Selected scheme operators have been identified, who will be permitted to hire non-EEA workers in the UK for seasonal work for up to six months.

Partnership Visa & Domestic Violence Provisions

Domestic abuse victims in the UK under a partner visa or sponsorship by a settled UK person (including a British citizen or with ILR), will be granted indefinite leave to remain if their relationship breaks down. This will also include partners of individuals with refugee status not yet granted indefinite leave to remain.

Do you have a question about the UK’s new immigration system and its impact on your business or your immigration rights?

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help businesses and individuals understand their immigration options and rights and support through any Home Office application process. If you have a question about the latest changes to the UK immigration rules, and the potential impact on your business or your immigration options, please contact us.

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