Major changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tiers 1, 2 and 5, EEA nationals sponsoring family members under the Immigration Rules, visitors, applications for Administrative Review and knowledge of language and life tests are being introduced with effect from, 12 November 2015. These changes have been brought in by Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC535.
Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Graduate Entrepreneurs
A number of changes to the evidential requirements have been introduced, including a new provision where past investments can be considered as part of the “genuine entrepreneur” test. There is also a slight relaxation on some requirements.
Graduate entrepreneurs will face additional requirements in relation to endorsement letters.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found in relation to Tier 1 Entrepreneurs that “substantial evidence of low quality businesses being established” as yet there has been no indication from the Home Office as to what, if any, changes will be made to the routes in response to the MAC report.
Tier 1 Investor
There have not been many changes to this scheme even in light of allegations that the route has been used for massive scale money laundering. The rules have been amended to provide that where property is used as evidence for balance of funds, it can only be jointly owned with the spouse or partner of applicant, and that investment by way of share or loan capital in investment syndicate companies is not acceptable.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route is being reformed, supposedly to make it more user friendly and fit for purpose.
There have been some additions to the Shortage Occupation list: nurses and four jobs in the digital technology sector (product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security specialist).
The salary threshold for settlement applications by Tier 2 workers will be £35,000 from 6 April 2016, as previously stated by the Home Office. Post dating of entry clearance is introduced to make life easier for initial Tier 2 applicants.
There are additional minor changes which have been made to the Tier 2 scheme as well.
A few changes for Tier 5, including an increase in the allocations for Australia (20%) and New Zealand (9%), which is said to reflect the higher number of British participants under those countries’ reciprocal schemes in 2014 than in the previous year.
As of the 12th November 2015 all EU nationals who wish to apply for naturalisation must first obtain permanent residence to evidence they have been free from any restrictions for 12 months before applying for naturalisation.
Knowledge of Language and Life tests
All language and life tests will in future have to be Secure English Language Tests with providers listed in Appendix O.
The visitor rules have been relaxed (a little) so that visitors are in future permitted to undertake a maximum of 30 days study and 30 days volunteering provided that the main purpose of their visit to the UK is another visitor permitted activity – for instance a holiday or business meetings.