On Thursday 22 November 2012, a written ministerial statement was laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules which will come in to force on 13 December 2012.
These include non substantive changes for sponsors and migrants coming to the UK under the following routes of the points-based system: Tier 1 – entrepreneurs and investors; Tier 2 – skilled workers, including changes for senior intra-company transfers; Tier 4 – students, including extending the interim limit; Tier 5 – temporary workers including the requirements for the government authorised exchange category and private servants in a diplomatic household; Sponsorship – revised sponsorship guidance will be published in December.
According to these changes from 13 December 2012 Tier 4 (general) students will no longer be able to switch into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) unless they apply under the £50,000 funding route from a specified source (registered venture capitalist firms, UK Government Departments, Devolved Administration Departments or listed seed funding competitions).
If you currently have leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) student and you want to apply in-country to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category on the basis of having access to at least £200,000 to invest in a UK business, you must prepare and submit your application before the window of opportunity closes on 13 December 2012 if you can.
On 13 December 2012 the English language requirement for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is being lowered from CEFR Level C1 (e.g. IELTS 7.0) to Level B1 (e.g. IELTS 4.0) (see English Language Page for Explanation) and this change will apply to both entry clearance and leave to remain applications. This is a good news particularly for Entrepreneurs overseas who were more hindered by the current high English Language competency requirements.
If you are currently holding leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Post-study work) Migrant, you can still switch to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, on the basis of having access to £50,000 to invest in a UK business.
New rules coming into force on 13 December 2012 will prevent Tier 1 investor applicants from leveraging against the investment portfolio used for Tier 1 Investor leave where another party would have a claim on the money if the loan repayments were not met.
In addition, there are changes to the Rules affecting: Criminality; Settlement; Family and private life categories.
In criminality the rules propose to establishing a more robust and clear criminality framework to assess immigration applications against which immigration applications will be assessed. This includes inter alia recalculating the length of time, based on the length of sentence, before we will revoke a deportation order. The rules also introduce a re-entry ban, for some foreign national offenders who have been removed from the UK as part of a conditional caution and additional powers to end (curtail) a migrant’s visa or leave.
The proposed changes create of a ‘route’ for ex-Armed Forces to remain in the UK. Ex-armed forces and Ghurkhas will be able to qualify for further leave to remain if they cannot qualify for ILR because of an unspent criminal conviction.
There are amendments to clarify the absences from the UK that are allowed during the continuous residence period for Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 and pre-points based system work routes (for example work permits, self-employment and business person). The Rules now specifically set out the number of days an applicant can be absent from the UK without their application being refused. The total number of days is 180 days in any of the 12 calendar month periods preceding the date of the application for ILR. For every period of 12 months in a person’s lawful stay in the UK, up to 180 days absence is allowed.
There are also minor changes to the child and parent routes to make them as clear and comprehensive as possible. The reasonability test will be added to the Paragraph 276ADE (the 7 year route for children) This will be in force from 13 December 2012 and there are transitional arrangements in place so any application made before 13 December will be considered under the previous rules. So it is best for child applicants coming under this category to apply before this date.
There are other numerous changes to family life categories under Appendix FM. The upcoming changes in Appendix FM-SE indicate similar evidential flexibility in the evidential requirements of Appendix FM as were in place under the PBS evidential flexibility policy.
For full details, please see the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules and the explanatory memorandum within the document. The written ministerial statement and statement of policy can be found on the Home Office website. Standard disclaimer applies to all the above.