The UK Government published a statement of changes on 7 March 2019. The planned changes will bring significant reform to the Tier 1 immigration routes. There are also some changes to Tier 2, the EU Settlement Scheme and some other minor amendments.
The Government indicates in the statement of changes that it will be ending the Points Based System (PBS). The newly announced Innovator and Start-up routes do not fall within the current Points-Based system and do not have a points scoring system. It is thus a clear sign that the UK Government is committed to moving away from the PBS.
Breytenbachs welcome the announcements on the newly formed immigration routes, and believe it will open up more opportunities for those looking to live and work in the UK.
Tier 1 Immigration Route Reforms
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) immigration routes will be scrapped. These routes will be replaced by the Start-up and Innovator routes. There are also some changes to the Tier 1 Investor visa route.
Closure of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
The current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route will be closed for new applications from 6 July 2019.
There are transitional arrangements for persons already in the UK on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) to switch to the new routes.
Persons already in the UK under this route, do not need to worry, as there are transitional arrangements in place to switch to the new routes.
Closure of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will close on 29 March 2019. Persons already on this route will be able to apply for extensions until 5 April 2023, and for settlement until 5 April 2025.
Persons currently on this route do not need to be concerned at all, as they will not be affected by the closure of this immigration route. There will be sufficient time to extend, as well as to eventually apply for settlement.
Reforms to Tier 1 (Investor)
From 29 March 2019, there are some significant changes to the current Tier 1 (Investor) route.
Previously a person had to hold the required investments funds to qualify for this visa for 90 days. This period has been increased to two years.
Banks will also be required to do due diligence checks and confirm that these have been done, before opening a UK investment account for a Tier 1 (Investor) applicant.
The stricter rules are to ensure that are monies coming to the UK are from legitimate sources.
Current Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders will be able to apply for extensions until 5 April 2023, and 5 April 2025 for settlement.
The newly formed Start-up Visa will replace the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. According to the statement of changes, it is an expanded version of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route.
It will be available to those starting a new business in the UK. Applicants need to have a business plan that is innovative, scalable and viable. An endorsing body will have to support the business idea.
Applicants do not need to hold a degree or have secured initial funding.
Successful applicants will be granted two years’ leave. They will then be able to progress from there to the Innovator visa.
The Start-up visa will not lead to settlement in the UK. An applicant can, however, progress to the Innovator visa that does lead to settlement in the UK. Start-up visa holders can apply to bring their dependants with them to the UK.
The newly formed Innovator visa will be available to more experienced business persons. Applicants will need to be endorsed by trusted organisations in the UK. They also need to invest £50,000 in their business from a legitimate source. This amount is significantly lower than the required £200,000 for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.
The Innovator applicant need to have a business plan that is innovative, scalable and viable, and supported by an endorsing body.
If a person switches to the Innovator visa category from the Start-up category, they will not need to prove the funding requirement, provided they have made significant achievements in their business plans.
There is also an English language requirement for applicants, at B2 Level.
The Innovator visa will lead to settlement in the UK. It will also be possible for them to bring their dependants to the UK to join them.
It will be possible to apply for Indefinite Leave after only three years’ of continuous residence, provided certain criteria in terms of monies, business growth and job creation have been achieved.
Reforms to Tier 2 Work Visa
Currently, certain professions are exempted from the minimum salary requirement for Tier 2. This exemption includes; nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics, secondary school teachers in the subjects of physics, mathematics, chemistry, computer science, and Mandarin.
The statement of changes has now extended the exemption on the minimum salary level of these professions.
The Home Office said this exemption is to ensure that the NHS and schools can continue to attract experience teachers, nurses and paramedics from overseas.
The minimum salary for some Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes is now higher. Sponsors will thus have to pay higher salaries to sponsor certain professions.
Students on Tier 4 (Student) visa route will now be able to switch to Tier 2, three months before the completion date of their course. They will no longer have to complete the course, before being able to apply.
Tier 2 visa holders who apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, will need to earn a salary of £38,800 if they apply on or after 6 April 2023. This amount increases to £40,100 if the date of application is on or after 6 April 2024.
Breytenbachs welcome most the new statement of changes, and believe the new immigration routes will open up more opportunities for persons looking to live and work in the UK. Clients are welcome to contact us with any specific questions they have at firstname.lastname@example.org