Amendments to the immigration rules
The Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules – HC 309 was issued on 7 December 2017, along with an Explanatory Memorandum. It covers: the electronic issuing of entry clearance; changes to the Rules relating to indefinite leave to remain for main applicants and their dependants in work categories (in particular on how absences from the UK are to be treated); substantial amendments to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category; amendments to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category including increasing the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) limit from 1000 to 2000 endorsements per year; amendments to the Tier 2 (General) category including allowing Tier 4 General students to apply to switch into Tier 2 (General) following completion of their course (instead of being required to wait for final results) and relaxing the resident labour market test for certain supernumerary researchers and members of established research teams.
Probably the amendment which will have the most impact is that which relates to ‘Points based system (‘PBS’) dependants’ who wish to obtain indefinite leave to remain. Whilst they still need to have held the relevant immigration status for a five-year period and a new sub-paragraph has been inserted in paragraph 319E. This effectively states that the requirement to have had absences from the UK of no more that 180 days per year in order to qualify for settlement (which previously applied only to principal applicants) is now being extended to partners of the principal applicant. To ensure that this requirement does not have retrospective effect, any absence from the UK during periods of leave granted under the Rules in place before 31 January 2018 should not count towards the 180 days. In other words, the amendment will not have an adverse impact on those who already extended their leave under the old Rules and who will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave without the need to extend again. This change is likely to cause most difficulty to partners of Tier 1 Investors and Tier 1 Entrepreneurs who have often travelled extensively.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
The second amendment of particular interest relates to persons seeking entry as Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Migrants (i.e. talented individuals in the field of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology who are able to take employment in the UK without needing to be ‘sponsored’ under Tier 2 of the Points Based System). There will be a doubling of the number of places available in the applicable 12 month period for entry under this category from 1000 to 2000 (the extra 1000 places to be placed in a ‘pool’ available for use by the four Designated Competent Bodies (‘DCBs’) according to demand on a first-come first-serve basis). Furthermore, if a person is designated by a DCB as a person of ‘exceptional talent’ (as opposed to ‘exceptional promise’) they may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after only three years in an accelerated route to settlement.
The full text for the Statement of Changes and Explanatory Memorandum can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statement-of-changes-to-the-immigration-rules-hc309-7-december-2017
For specialist advice and assistance in regards of any UK immigration matter, please make an appointment with D.J.Webb & Co Solicitors.