On November 22, 2012, the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) set forth new Immigration Rules before Parliament, the majority of which took effect on December 13, 2012. Some of the changes relax current rules, while others respond to abuse.
The changes cover applications under the points-based system in Tiers 1, 2, 4, and 5, as well as family and private life applications. The main changes to Tier 1 and 2 are summarized below:
- For Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) there will be a lowering of the English-language requirement from level C1 (advanced) to level B1 (intermediate), in line with other points-based system categories to avoid deterring potentially successful entrepreneurs.
- Students under Tier 4 will no longer be able to switch to the entrepreneur route unless they have funding of at least £50,000 from a specified source, such as registered venture capitalist firms, UK Government Departments, or listed seed funding competitions.
- A Tier 1 (Investor) migrant's visa will be canceled if the visa-holder does not maintain the required level of investment for the duration of his or her stay in this category.
- The rules will expressly state that loans cannot be secured on the investments relied on to obtain a Tier 1 (Investor) visa and the investments cannot be held in offshore custody.
- All Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) migrants were subject to a maximum stay in the UK of five years if they entered the UK in this category after April 5, 2011. Under the rule changes, senior staff members earning at least £150,000 will be permitted to remain in the UK for up to nine years.
- Where a migrant leaves the UK on or before the expiration of his or her visa, a "cooling-off" period applies to prevent the migrant from returning to the UK in this category for 12 months (more about this below). Some flexibility is being introduced in how the cooling-off period is determined so that it can start on the first date the migrant can prove he or she has left the UK, should he or she wish to return to the UK in this category 12 months later. This way, the migrant does not have to wait until the date of expiration or curtailment of the visa by the UKBA.
- For all migrants in Tier 2 and other work routes who are eligible to apply to settle in the UK, permitted absences have increased to 180 days per year over the five years required to qualify.
- Migrants in Tiers 2 and 5 may undertake supplemental employment in a shortage occupation, even if this is a different occupation from the one in which they are being sponsored to work.
For family and private life applications, there will be a relaxation of the rules in relation to the evidence required to meet financial requirements. Specifically, the list of documents to evidence employment in the UK has been scaled back where appropriate and more copies of documents will be acceptable when originals are not available.
STATEMENT OF POLICY FOR CHANGES TO THE POINTS-BASED SYSTEM