UKVI Announces Changes to Immigration Rules
The Home Office within the United Kingdom has recently announced several changes to the Immigration Rules, in relation to the Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 Visa categories, as well as the EU Settlement Scheme. So, what are the latest changes?
Two new Visa routes announced
One of the most prominent changes announced it that henceforth, two new Visa routes have been introduced to set up businesses in the UK. For instance, the ‘Start-up Visa route’ is for those starting a new business for the first time in the UK, in which will replace the current version of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category. This means that applicants will not need to be graduates and will not need to have secured any initial funding.
On the other hand, the ‘Innovator Visa route’ is for the more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business, in which the investment threshold has been reduced from £200,000 to £50,000. This will replace the current Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Any extension applications within the ‘Innovator’ category will be assessed upon whether applicants have made a significant achievement against the business plan and whether the business is trading efficiently.
Both routes will be assessed by endorsing bodies and business experts, rather than the Home Office, in which the assessment will be based upon whether the business ideas are innovative, viable and scalable. All applicants will be able to apply for settlement as soon as their business satisfies at least two of the following criteria’s, (providing they have spent at least 3 years in the category):
- Covering investment
- Business growth and job creation
What are the other changes?
Notable other changes include an English language requirement being set at upper intermediate (B2). Following from this, the Tier 1 Investor route has also been reformed, in which the initial required £2 million will now need to be held for at least 2 years, rather than 90 days. The Tier 5 Visa Route has also had the ‘Jamaican Nursing Exchanged’ added to the list of approved schemes, under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange. Within the Tier 2 Visa category, nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers teaching maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin who were to have the salary exemption end in July 2019, will now have this date extended. Finally, due to the oversubscription of the annual Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) quota, the government has removed the bands and instead awarded one point for each £1,000 gross annual salary. This is to reduce the number of rejections for Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS).
And the EU Settlement Scheme?
Another notable change was to the EU Settlement Scheme, in which will be fully functional and open from 30 March 2019. The Statement of Changes, as recently announced, contains the scope of scheme as follows:
- Resident citizens of the other EEA countries & Switzerland, plus their dependants, can apply for UK immigration status under the scheme in-line with the citizens’ rights agreements reached within those countries.
- EEA & Swiss nationals and their family members will be eligible to apply under the scheme from outside the UK, meaning that they no longer are required to travel to the UK to make the relevant application.
- Family members of British nationals who initially applied using the ‘Surinder Singh’ route will also be able to apply using this scheme.
- The scheme will also be open to others who are lawfully resident in the UK, by virtue of a ‘derivative right’ to reside, based upon wider EU law.
- Residence in the ‘Crown Dependencies’ will also be counted towards UK residence for the purpose of the scheme.
- Under the new scheme, there will be no application fee payable. Those who have paid a fee will be refunded after the 30 March 2019 when the scheme goes officially live.
- The system is online; however, certain applications will need to be made using a paper form.
- A range of documents will be deemed acceptable as proof of nationality and identify.
- Non-EEA/Swiss Citizen family members applying under the scheme from within the UK who do not hold a valid BRP card, will need to enrol their biometrics.
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Authors: Amisha Jethwa & Vaida Lukaite