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Changes to the UK immigration rules from 11 January 2018

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Main Changes

New Statement of changes was passed to the Parliament on the 7th of December 2017. These changes will come into force from 11th of January 2018.

  • The introduction of an electronic entry clearance visa to replace a physical vignette in the passport;
  • Flexibility for Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2 sponsorship; and
  • A new requirement for PBS dependents to not spend more than 180 days in any 12-month period outside the United Kingdom in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The number of available endorsements will double to 2,000 places per year to offer another immigration option for very highly-skilled migrants. There will be a pool of unallocated places to be drawn on by any of the five Designated Competent Bodies on a first-come-first-serve basis. “World leaders” in their field on the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route may be able to qualify for accelerated settlement after 3 years of continuous residence, instead of 5 years.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

One change is to prevent the “recycling” of funds by not allowing applicants to rely on funds or investment that have been provided by another Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, or that migrant’s business or close family member.

Another change is to stop ongoing abuse with venture capital funding. Applicants using venture capital for investment will now have to confirm the date(s) the funds were transferred and that the firm was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority at the time.

Applicants will be able to apply for visa extension and settlement even if their current visa was granted less than 12 months ago provided they meet certain job creation requirements. However, the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of the current application.

Tier 2 (General)

Changes aim to attract researchers into the UK that are recipients of supernumerary research awards and fellowships or established research team members sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or a Research Council. They will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2

Tier 4 students will no longer be required to pass their course before being able to switch to Tier 2. Once they have completed their course and been able to evidence this, without waiting for their exam results, they will be allowed to apply for their Tier 2 visas straight away.

PBS Dependents

Dependents of PBS migrants (including Tier 2) will now be subject to the absences requirement, i.e. spending no more than 180 days per year outside of the United Kingdom during any 12-month period when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain. It could potentially affect PBS migrants whose family members do not regularly reside in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, PBS dependents submitting an application on or after January 11, 2018 will have to prove that their relationship to the main applicant is both subsisting and genuine.


Changes for visitors on standard or marriage/civil partnership visitor visas:

  • No need to obtain a separate transit visa to transit the UK;
  • Not allowed to study at an academy or a school maintained by a Local Authority.

Electronic entry clearance

A new electronic entry clearance system is being implemented in 2018. Initially it will be trialled with a pilot group, before wider implementation. Individuals arriving in the UK will only have to present their passport or identity documents at the UK border for the Immigration Officer to check electronically for entry clearance.

If you have a question about how the changes affect you, your family or your business, please contact our experts. We are on hand to answer your queries.

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