The Home Office published some new changes to the UK Immigration rules recently, and many of them have now come into effect this month. The purpose of this article is to communicate the changes made to the Tier 1 visa routes that are on offer.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa:
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa enables people with a recognised talent to live and work in the UK without needing to find sponsored employment. They can be a free-lancer or work for themselves, or they can work as an employee for a UK based company.
To qualify, people must be successful in a fairly rigorous application process, meet certain criteria and then achieve endorsement from a Designated Competent Body.
There has been increased enthusiasm for people coming to the UK recently to pursue scientific and medical careers, but this visa is not exclusive to that kind of occupation. A person can qualify for endorsements within careers in science, humanities, engineering, the arts, and digital technology.
So, it really is a 2 stage application procedure:
- Find endorsement through an online application
- Apply for visa once the endorsement is granted
It is worth noting that only 983 of these visas were issued in 2018 out of a possible 2,000. It is underused and the government wants to increase the amount of people it takes on. The endorsement procedure is a factor as to why some people are deterred from pursuing this visa.
So, what’s changed with it?
- Three letters of support, as opposed to the current requirement of two, from established digital technology organisations, will be required. An extra letter will allow for a more in-depth analysis of the applicant’s achievements and contributions to the sector.
- The phrase ‘product-led’ has been added to the requirements to ensure migrants with the appropriate skill set use the route.
To increase the number of applicants in science, engineering, and humanities, The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and The British Academy have championed the following changes:
- Expanded the list of peer-reviewed fellowships to include fellowships awarded by the National Institute for Health Research;
- Expanded the criteria to include applicants who have held a peer-reviewed fellowship in the 12 months immediately before the date of application; and,
- Expanded the application criteria to allow a wider range of eligible senior academic or research positions to qualify; and,
- Design and architecture are now included from 0ct 2019 (make it more accessible, and to increase usage of this category.)
- Digital technology candidates were previously given fast track endorsement options, but these have now been cancelled. Fast track is now only available to applicants who get accepted onto recognised training programmes. These are known as UK Accelerated Programmes.
Please remember that we are here to help you through these procedures. They can be very daunting and complicated. We can guide you through it from beginning to end, filtering out anything unnecessary, and help you find the best way forward.
Tier 1 (Investor) category – Some important things to note:
This category is for individuals who are very wealthy and who are able to make an investment in the UK worth at least £2 million.
Here are the changes made to this visa type:
- The changes made in March 2019 to closing dates are being flexed to allow applicants to make extension or settlement applications after these dates, provided that they move their qualifying investments out of UK Government bonds before either 6 April 2023 in the case of extension applications, or 6 April 2025 in the case of settlement applications.
- Another change will allow investors who do not meet those deadlines to apply for further extensions and settlement if they meet certain conditions; i.e. invest the full £2 million in qualifying investments before they apply for further extensions and maintain the full £2 million investment for the qualifying period required for settlement.
- The changes in March 2019 also increased the period for which applicants must provide evidence of their available funds from 90 days to 2 years. Some references to three months were missed in March’s rules changes and these are being corrected in line with the other references to 2 years.
Investing in gilts is no longer accepted:
- Applicants for Tier 1 (Investor) visa who submitted their visa/residence permit application before 29 March 2019 were able to invest in gilts but they must extend by 5 April 2023 and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by 5 April 2025. Gilts will no longer count as qualifying investments for any applications undertaken after this date. Thus, an applicant for an extension on or after 6 April 2023 must ensure that investments are moved to other qualifying investment categories (e.g. share / loan capital of an active and trading UK registered company) on or before 5 April 2023.
- Also, in cases where the initial grant of leave was before 29 March 2019, and the date of the ILR application is on or after 6 April 2025, the applicant cannot rely on investments that were held in gilts on or after 6 April 2025. The applicant must ensure that investments are moved to other qualifying investments on or before 5 April 2025.
- People who applied for the £1 million investor visa under the rules in place before 6 November 2014 must extend before 6 April 2020 and apply for ILR before 6 April 2022.
- Finally, those who keep extending their visa due to inadequate absence records, will not be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Tier 1: Entrepreneur: Some minor amendments
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is now closed completely. However it remains open for extension for the 2 and a half years under tier one extension route, which remains qualified for the ILR.
Graduate entrepreneur scheme has been closed since July 6, and is now only available through extension.
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