March 13, 2019

Major changes to the UK Immigration Rules

There have been major changes to the UK Immigration Rules, most of which will take place from 29 March 2019. The main changes are to Tier 1 of the Points Based System and to the new EU Settlement Scheme.

Tier 1 (Investor) Category

Changes will take effect on 29 March 2019 that introduce more stringent regulations as follows:

The requirement to show source of funds if £2 million has been held for less than 2 years (previously 90 days). This includes funds later invested to reach accelerated settlement (permanent residence).
The requirement to have a UK bank account will be tightened, requiring the UK bank to confirm that they have carried out all required due diligence checks and Know Your Customer enquiries.
Investments in UK Government bonds will be excluded.
The definition of an “active and trading” UK company has also been tightened. Stronger evidence of trading in the UK as follows:
Registered with Companies House in the UK.
Registered with HMRC for corporation tax and PAYE.
Accounts and UK business bank account showing regular trading.
At least two UK employees who are not directors.
A limited acceptance of collective investments. Pooled investments that receive funding from a UK or devolved government department or one of its agencies will be made an allowable investment.
Tightening use of intermediary vehicles used for investment. The intermediary vehicle must be regulated by the FCA and the investor will need to produce evidence of the final investment destination and how funds were transferred there.
Clarification that £2 million investment is the price paid by the investor rather than the market value.
Extension applications submitted abroad will now be granted for 2 years rather than the previous 3 years 4 months so they are in line with extensions in UK.
Applicants can be refused the visa if the Home Office have reasonable grounds to believe the funds used for the investment breached exchange controls. This will also apply to extensions and settlement which means that if the Home Office think there is a breach of exchange controls the investor could lose their status.

There will be transitional arrangements in place for investors who applied prior to 29 March 2019 which means the Rules in place before 29 March 2019 will continue to apply to them until 5 April 2023 for visa extensions and 5 April 2025 for settlement (permanent residence) applications.

An important note is that the arrangements in place for those who entered the category under the Rules in force before 6 November 2014 i.e. the £1 million route, will end on 6 April 2020 for extensions and 6 April 2022 for settlement which means applicants applying for an extension or settlement after these dates will have to meet the 29 March 2019 criteria i.e. £2 million and no gilts.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Category

This category will be closed to new applicants from 29 March 2019 onwards. Extension applications for those already within this category will remain open until 5 April 2023 and open for settlement applications until 5 April 2025. Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)route will be closed on 06 July 2019.

New Appendix W

Two new visa categories will be introduced – Innovator (replacing Tier 1 Entrepreneur) and Start-up (replacing Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur). They are set out in a new Appendix W which will come into force on 29 March 2019. It is anticipated that other worker categories (Part 5, Part 6A) will be added to Appendix W in a move away from the Points Based System.

Start-up Category

This is for those starting a new business for the first time in the UK, applicants need not be graduates and will not need to have secured any initial funding. Successful applicants will be granted 2 years’ leave (doubled from 1 year offered to Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)) and applicants can then progress into the Innovator category to continue developing their businesses. It is only possible to stay in the start-up category for a maximum of 2 years and therefore this category does not lead to settlement.
Innovator Category

This is for more experienced business people requiring endorsement and funding of £50,000 (reduced from £200,000 required for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)). There is no time limit as to how long an applicant can stay in this category, however endorsement will be required at various stages based on innovation, viability and scalability at entry clearance/initial application, extension and settlement stages. The endorser must also be “reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing the business venture” and the innovator cannot work for another business. The funding requirement can be waived for those switching from the Start-up category to Innovator.

Applicants whose initial business idea did not succeed may re-apply with a new business idea for endorsement under the entry clearance/initial application stage.

The Innovator category may also lead to settlement. Innovators will be eligible to apply for settlement after 3 years continuous residence in the UK as an innovator, provided they satisfy at least 2 of the following criteria:

at least £50,000 has been invested and spent in the business;

the number of the business’ customers has at least doubled in the 3 years and is higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services;

the business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK;

the business has generated gross revenue of at least £1 million;

the business is generating at least £500,000 in revenue with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas;

the business has created at least 10 full time jobs for resident workers; and
the business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full time jobs for resident workers paying at least £25,000.

Start-up and Innovator Categories

Applicants within both routes will need to be:

Endorsed by trusted organisations in the UK – a list of organisations who can endorse someone for these visas has not yet been released.
Stay in contact with the endorsing body at regular intervals – 6, 12 and 24 months.
Meet the level B2 English Language Requirement.
Family members of applicants will be covered Under Part 8 (Family Member of a PBS Migrant).

Switching

Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 2 (General) and Tier 4 (General) or (Child) can switch into Start-up.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 2 and visitor (Prospective Entrepreneur) can switch into Innovator.

Tier 2 (General)

The Codes of Practice within Appendix J have been amended, resulting in an increase in the minimum salary sponsors will need to pay applicants under many of the Standard Occupational Classification Codes.

Students with a Tier 4 (General) visa can now apply to switch into this category up to 3 months before the expected completion date of their course.

Those applying for settlement from within this category need earn a minimum salary of:

Applying before 6 April 2019: £35,500
Applying before 6 April 2020: £35,800
Applying before 6 April 2021: £36,200
Applying before 6 April 2022: £36,900
Applying before 6 April 2023: £38,800
Applying before 6 April 2024: £40,100

The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open from 30 March 2019 and will include EEA and Swiss nationals. The changes will enable eligible applicants outside the UK to apply which means they can obtain their status without needing to travel to the UK. Applicants under the Scheme will now be able to rely on a wider range of documents as proof of their identity and nationality.

March 8, 2019

NEW HOME OFFICE FEES

8 March 2019

Dear colleague,

Legislation was laid in Parliament yesterday (07 March) which sets out a number of changes to border and immigration fees. Most of these changes will come into effect from 29 March 2019; with changes to the EU Settlement Scheme from 30 March 2019; the fee exception for Afghan Locally Employed Staff from 06 April 2019 and Border Force above-basic services and Fast Track from 01 July 2019.
The UK Government welcomes genuine visitors to the UK, whether they are coming as tourists, on business or to see family and friends. The Home Office continues to process significant numbers of visa, immigration and nationality applications each year. Current forecasts for 2019-20 expect approximately 4.2 million visa applications, from those planning to come to visit, work and study in the UK, contributing significantly to the UK economy and supporting economic growth. The Home Office continues to provide an excellent customer service with 98% of all non-settlement visa applications being decided within the standard 15 day processing time.
Careful consideration is given when setting fees in line with the powers set out in the 2014 Immigration Act, to ensure that we are reducing the contribution from UK taxpayers to funding the Border, Immigration and Citizenship systems, whilst continuing to provide and invest in a service that remains attractive to our customers and competitive with other countries.
Nearly all applications for individuals seeking to visit, work or study in the UK are now made online and the application is simple and straightforward to complete.
The key changes are:
• Increased fee for the 6 Month Short Term Visit Visa from £93 to £95.

• Increased fee on 2,5 and 10 Year Long Term Visit Visas.
o from £350 to £361 for the 2-year visa;
o from £636 to £655 for the 5-year visa; and
o from £798 to £822 for the 10-year visa
• Increased fee for Academic Visitor and Private Medical Treatment visas from £186 to £190
• Increased fee for overseas optional Priority Visa – Non-Settlement service to £220.
• Increase fees for Priority Services:
o The in-country Super Priority fee from £610 to £800;
o The in-country Priority service from £477 to £500;
o The out-of-country Priority Visa (General) service fee from £212 to £220
Please note – Fees for entry clearance to enter the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, as a visitor, and for the priority visa service, will rise in-line with the same fees charged for applicants coming to the UK.
• Increased fee for Electronic Visa Waiver fee from £15 to £30
• Increased fee for Border Force Fast Track service at Heathrow Terminals 2,3 and 4 from £3.90 to £5.20
• The Border Force Hourly Rate for “above-basic services” will continue to be charged at the current fee of £53.08 until the end of June, after which two new fees will take effect to provide distinction between services offered. A fee of £57.33 has been set to reflect administrative functions provided, including services to other government departments; whilst another fee of £77.40 has been set to reflect the increased premium nature of commercial based services.
• New fees for the “Innovator” and “Start-Up” routes replacing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), and transitional arrangements for these legacy routes. The new fees are at the same level as for the Tier 1 routes they replace.
• New fee of £244 for entry clearance to enter the Bailiwick of Jersey under their new Temporary Seasonal Work Permit arrangements. The fee is the same as that which will be charged under Tier 5 in the UK, for the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Pilot.
We are not making any changes to fees under the sponsorship system, which have been held since the last change in April 2015. All other fees are being held at the current rate.
If you have any queries regarding the fee changes, or would like to discuss any particular areas of interest, please contact: feesandincomeplanning.requests@homeoffice.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Simon Bond
BICS Strategic Director
Home Office

March 7, 2019

Changes to the Immigration Rules – 7 March 2019

Dear colleague,

Today, 07 March, we have brought forward a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, which further demonstrate our commitment to attracting leading talent, whilst also cracking down on abuse.

Tier 1 business

The Rules will provide skilled business people access to two new visa routes to set up businesses in the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.
Both routes will see endorsing bodies and business experts – rather than the Home Office – assessing applicants’ business ideas. This will make sure that the routes are focussed on only the most innovative, viable and scalable businesses.

Alongside these new routes, the Home Office is also bringing forward reforms to the Tier 1 (Investor) route. The reformed route will better protect the UK from illegally obtained funds, whilst ensuring that genuine investors have access to a viable visa route. Applicants will be required to prove that they have had control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds.

Tier 2 salary exemption

We will also extend the salary exemption in the Tier 2 (General) visa so that the NHS and schools can continue to attract and hire experienced teachers, nurses and paramedics from overseas. The salary exemption applies to all nurses and paramedics, medical radiographers and secondary school teachers whose subjects are in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.
Commenting on the changes, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:
“My priority is making sure that talented business people continue to see the UK as an attractive destination to develop their businesses. This will help create more jobs across the country and ensure our economy continues to thrive.
“In addition to welcoming those who wish to contribute to our economy, we also recognise our duty to support the vulnerable. That is why I am proud to announce that we are extending our commitment to the brave Afghan interpreters and their families so that they can rebuild their lives here, together, in safety.
“However, what we will not tolerate is those who seek to abuse our system and that is why I am bringing forward new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”
Other changes to the Rules include:

The list of countries which benefit from the streamlined documentary requirements, found in Appendix H, has been updated to include Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Tunisia. This change will not only benefit students, who will be able to apply for visas through a more streamlined process, but also help to ensure that the UK’s world-leading education institutions remain competitive internationally.

We are increasing the initial period of leave granted to those who qualify for Stateless Leave from 30 months to five years’, making it easier for those who are genuinely stateless and not able to live in any other country and cutting unnecessary bureaucracy. Also, to deter those who seek to abuse the system to benefit from stateless leave, changes are being made to the Rules to make sure that only those who are genuinely entitled to stateless leave can qualify. This makes clearer that an individual is required to show that they have tried to obtain a nationality or right of residence in another country that they could reasonably expect to be entitled to, before benefitting from stateless leave. The Government is clear that we will not tolerate those who seek to play the system to remain in the UK.
A new two-year scheme which will allow up to 20 nurses from Jamaica to come to the UK to gain vital experience in NHS hospitals as part of an exchange scheme.
In recognition of the support of brave Afghan interpreters and their families to the UK armed forces, we have brought forward rules changes so that eligible partners and children of interpreters still in Afghanistan can relocate to the UK at a date later than the relocation of the individual interpreter.
We remain committed to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels, but also recognise the need to attract people who bring benefits to the UK and enable employers to have access to the skills they need.

Regards,

Home Office communications.

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