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Changes to the Immigration Rules expected in 2019

Posted by Gunes Saybak on December 17, 2018

The UK Government announced a number of changes on Thursday 6th December 2018, which they intend to implement “shortly” in 2019.

The proposed changes included the following:

  • Introducing a new Start-up visa route. This new route was initially revealed in June of this year with an intention to replace and build upon the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, widening the applicant pool of talented entrepreneurs and ensuring that the visa process faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the UK. Applicants will need to be endorsed by either a business or higher education institution sponsor.
  • The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa route is intended to be scrapped and a new Innovator Visa will be introduced for more experienced business people. This new route will have a similar emphasis on endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.
  • The Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route, which had been said to have been suspended with almost immediate effect on 6th December 2018, has not been. There has, however,  been a doubling-down by the immigration minister in a written statement which confirmed that any changes to this route would now take place in Spring 2019. Expected changes to this route could include removing government bonds from the list of acceptable investments.
  • The changes also include a number of minor, more technical changes to the current Tier 1 and Tier 2 routes. These changes are said “to ensure the Immigration Rules remain up-to-date and for consistency purposes”.
  • Expanding Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) will be expanded to include leading architects. An accelerated settlement process is being considered under this route.
  • Prohibiting Tier 5 Religious Workers from filling roles as Ministers of Religion. They will instead be directed to apply through the Tier 2 Minister of Religion sub-category requiring Ministers of Religion to now satisfy the English language requirements.
  • Introducing a ‘cooling off period’, preventing Tier 5 Religious Worker and Tier 5 Charity Worker visa holders from returning to the UK, via these immigration routes for 12 months after their visa expires. These changes are being introduced to prevent applicants within this route from applying for consecutive periods of leave and in effect achieving on-going residency in the UK.
  • Introducing the pilot scheme for seasonal agricultural workers

On 11th December 2018, the UK Government published the statement of changes setting out in detail the entire changes to Immigration Rules that will come into force. This can be found via the link below:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/764738/Immigration_Rules_-_11_December_web.pdf