Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules

A new Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules has been presented to parliament today. There are significant changes to many of the rules. Please find below a breakdown of the main changes:

The New Visit Visas

From 24/04/2015 the current 15 different visitor visa routes will be replaced by four visit visa categories:

Visitor (standard)

  • This consolidates the following existing routes: general, business, child, sport, entertainer, visitors for private medical treatment, visitors under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement with China, prospective entrepreneur, and visitors undertaking clinical attachments; the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test and the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE);
  • This retains specific visit visa categories for those entering to carry out research as an academic; those receiving private medical treatment and for children;
  • The parent of a child at school route is being removed from the visit visa route and will be made under part 7 of the Immigration Rules as it is not visit visa;
  • The student visit visa routes are being removed from the visit visa route and applications will need to be made under Part 7 of the Immigration Rules;
  • Visitors under this route will now be permitted to carry out further activities then they currently are, further permitted activities will be:
    • allowing visitors to carry out incidental unpaid volunteering for up to 30 days at a UK registered charity;
    • allowing overseas trainers to deliver training to UK based employees of a multinational company, where the training is part of a contract to deliver global training to the international corporate group;
    • allowing UK based organisations, who are not corporate entities, to provide training to overseas visitors on work practices and techniques that are needed for their employment overseas, where this is not readily available in their home country; and
    • expanding the existing provision to allow overseas lawyers to advise a UK client on international transactions and litigation, provided they remain paid and employed overseas;

Visitor for marriage or civil partnership

  • This will remain the same as the current rules;
  • Visitors under this route will now be permitted to carry out further activities then they currently are, further permitted activities will be:
    • allowing visitors to carry out incidental unpaid volunteering for up to 30 days at a UK registered charity;
    • allowing overseas trainers to deliver training to UK based employees of a multinational company, where the training is part of a contract to deliver global training to the international corporate group;
    • allowing UK based organisations, who are not corporate entities, to provide training to overseas visitors on work practices and techniques that are needed for their employment overseas, where this is not readily available in their home country; and
    • expanding the existing provision to allow overseas lawyers to advise a UK client on international transactions and litigation, provided they remain paid and employed overseas;

Visitor for paid permitted engagements

  • This will remain the same as the current rules;
  • Visitors under this route will now be permitted to carry out further activities then they currently are, further permitted activities will be:
    • allowing visitors to carry out incidental unpaid volunteering for up to 30 days at a UK registered charity;
    • allowing overseas trainers to deliver training to UK based employees of a multinational company, where the training is part of a contract to deliver global training to the international corporate group;
    • allowing UK based organisations, who are not corporate entities, to provide training to overseas visitors on work practices and techniques that are needed for their employment overseas, where this is not readily available in their home country; and
    • expanding the existing provision to allow overseas lawyers to advise a UK client on international transactions and litigation, provided they remain paid and employed overseas;

Transit visitor

  • This will remain the same as the current rules;

Changes to Tier 1 of the Points-Based System

Tier 1 (Investor)

  • A requirement is being added for prospective investors to open a UK regulated investment account before making an initial application;
  • The minimum age of applicants in this category is being increased from 16 to 18;
  • Changes are being made to the requirement for applicants to maintain their investments. The changes will mean applicants will no longer need to invest additional capital if they sell part of their investments at a loss, but they will be required to maintain all their capital within their investment portfolios. Buying and selling investments will continue to be permitted, providing the investor does not withdraw any capital;
  • The restriction on investing in companies principally concerned with property investment, property development or property management is being amended slightly;

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

  • For the £50,000 route government funding by way of an intermediary public body may be accepted, providing that body confirms that the funds were made available by a UK or Page 12 of 26 Devolved Government Department for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business;
  • The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test will now also apply to applications for further leave and indefinite leave;
  • Tier 1 (General) Migrants will only be able to switch into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), if  they have already established a UK business before the date these changes take effect (6 April 2015) , or they have funding from a government department or endorsed seed funding competition;
  • Clarifications are being made to the rules regarding how investment funds may be spent;
  • Applicants relying on funds they hold themselves must provide evidence of the third party source of those funds, if they have held the funds for less than 90 days before making an initial application;
  • A new requirement is being added for all initial applicants to submit a business plan;

 Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

  • Applicants will be restricted from engaging in businesses principally concerned with property development or property management;

 Tier 1 (General)

  • Extension applications will be closed from April 2015;

 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

  • Applicants can now choose how much leave they wish to request, up to 5 years. This change is being made alongside the introduction of NHS surcharge payments, and means that Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants who only wish to come to the UK for a shorter time in this category will not need to pay the maximum leave period surcharge payment;

Changes to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

  • Changes are being made to the Shortage Occupation List;
  • Annual updates are being made to the annual minimum salary thresholds and appropriate salary rates for individual occupations (as set out in codes of practice);
  • A change is being made to the 12 month “cooling off period” which prevents applicants from being granted Tier 2 leave if they were in the UK with Tier 2 leave within the previous 12 months. The change will mean the cooling off period will not apply to previous grants of Tier 2 leave of three months or less, improving flexibility for businesses who need to transfer key staff for very short periods, rather than to fill ongoing vacancies in the UK;

 Changes to Tier 5 of the Points-Based System (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange)

  • Under the Government Authorised Exchange category, the description of the “BOND Business Internships” scheme administered by the British Council is being amended to clarify that this work experience scheme is specifically aimed at building mutual links and connectivity between the UK and overseas partners in areas of industrial and technological innovation and cooperation;
  • “UK-India Education and research Initiative” scheme  is being removed as requested by the sponsor, the British Council, as the scheme is no longer in use;

 Changed related to Overseas Domestic Workers

  • A new requirement is to be introduced that the Home Office caseworker be satisfied that the worker will be paid in accordance with the National Minimum Wage Regulations;
  • A new Home Office template contract will be introduced;

Changes relating to Withdrawn Applications

  • Where an applicant is requested to complete an asylum questionnaire or provide a witness statement setting out their reasons for their claim and they fail to do so or they leave the UK without informing the Secretary of State of their intentions, these claims will, from now on be treated as withdrawn;

Changes relating to Administrative Review

  • From 2 March 2015 it will be available for decisions on all Points Based System tiers where the application was made on or after that date;
  • From 6 April 2015 administrative review will be available for all decisions on applications for leave to remain under the Immigration Rules subject to some exceptions (Human Rights, visitors and short term students, and persons given notice of liability for removal);

Changes relating to family and private life

 Financial requirement under Appendix FM and Appendix FM-SE

  • Updated list of specified benefits which cannot be counted under the minimum income threshold to include Universal Credit;
  • Clarifying that bank statements evidencing payments of property rental income are only required for that part(s) of the period of 12 months prior to the date of application for which such income is relied upon;
  • Clarifying that eligible maintenance payments to the applicant or sponsor from a former partner can be evidenced by bank statements in the name of the applicant, sponsor or both;
  • Clarifying that the adequate maintenance requirement to be met by a child applicant whose parent is applying for or has leave as a parent under Appendix FM covers that parent and any other dependent children;

Changes relating to English language tests

  • The new Appendix O (that contains  the specific English language tests approved by the Home Office) will be implemented with effect from 6 April 2015 for all tests taken after that date;
  • Transitional measures will be introduced to allow individuals who took an English language test approved for immigration purposes before 6 April to use the result in support of an immigration application up to 6 November 2015.

Posted in English on Feb 25, 2015.