UNITED KINGDOM - Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules
On 7 December 2017, the UK government published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.
What has changed?
The most notable changes are as follows:
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
As we previously reported, the number of visas available under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route will increase from 1000 per year to 2000 per year. Internationally recognised global leaders in science, digital technology, the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, will be permitted to apply for settlement after three years. This brings the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category in line with the Tier 1 categories of Entrepreneur and Investor.
Tier 2 (General)
Flexibility is being introduced to enable students to apply to switch to Tier 2 as soon as they have completed their courses of study. Currently non-PhD students cannot apply to switch within the UK until they have received their final results.
Additionally, there will be exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test for posts to be held by certain researcher applicants and established research team members.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Applications for settlement made by partners of points-based system migrants will be required to show that they have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days per year, just as main applicants are required to do. This change will apply to absences from the UK during leave to remain granted under the rules in place from 11 January 2018.
An amendment is being made so that Tier 2 migrants are no longer required to have been continuously employed throughout the qualifying period to be eligible for settlement. This is because a Tier 2 migrant who is no longer working for their sponsor is subject to curtailment.
The Government proposes to begin issuing entry clearance electronically, with an initial trial with specified groups before general roll out at a later date.
Currently, entry clearance is endorsed most usually in a passport. The change will allow entry clearance to be issued both electronically and by endorsement; migrants with electronic entry clearance will not have to present entry clearance upon arrival in the UK as it will be checked electronically.
There are additional minor changes in the categories of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and (Investor); Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer); Short-term Study; Tier 4; and Tier 5.
Employers who may be affected by the above changes are advised to consult their immigration specialist for advice.