Recent Immigration Rule Changes and Updates in the UK

by Wright Hassall on May 1, 2014

A number of changes were recently made to the Immigration Rules in the UK.  All changes mentioned below are effective from 06 April 2014 unless otherwise stated.

Changes relating to Tier 2 of the Points-Based System

  1. A change is being made to allow Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applicants to be granted 5 years’ leave (rather than up to 3 years) on payment of a higher fee. The new UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) fee for a 3 year Tier 2 (ICT) and Tier 2 (General) visa application, submitted outside of the UK will be £514. However, the UKVI fee for a Tier 2 (ICT) or Tier 2 (General) 5 year visa application will be £1,028.
  2. Annual updates are being made to the minimum salary thresholds under Tier 2 of the Points Based System and appropriate salary rates for individual occupations (as set out in the codes of practice). The revised salary thresholds include:

(i)        Tier 2 (General) minimum salary threshold is increasing from £20,300 to £20,500;

(ii)        Tier 2 (General) High Earner minimum salary threshold is increasing from £152,100 to £153,500;

(iii)        Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Long Term Staff sub-category minimum salary threshold is increasing from £40,600 to £41,000; and

(iv)        Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer and Graduate Trainee sub-categories minimum salary threshold is increasing from £24,300 to £24,500;

Changes relating to Tier 1 of the Points-Based System

  1. The Tier 1 (General) category was closed to new applicants in April 2011 but remains open for extension and settlement applications. UKVI have announced that they intend to close the category for extension applications on 06 April 2015 and for settlement applications on 06 April 2018. This should allow applicants who are currently in the UK as Tier 1 migrants sufficient time to apply for settlement if they can meet the requirements to qualify.
  2.  The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category was introduced for those who lead the world or show exceptional promise and who have been endorsed by a Designated Competent Body and wish to work in the UK. Tech City is being added as a new Designated Competent Body to endorse applicants in the field of digital technology.
  3.  The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category caters for applicants coming to the UK to set up, take over or otherwise be involved in the running of a business in the UK. Applicants may qualify for this category on the basis of funds invested in their businesses up to 12 months before they apply. This is being widened to 24 months for applicants switching from the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category.
  4.  Applicants under the Tier 1 (Investor) category are currently required to invest their funds within three months of entering the UK in this category. At present, if they fail to do so they cannot be granted an extension. A change is being made to allow UKVI to apply discretion where appropriate if the delay in investing was as a result of unforeseeable circumstances and outside the investor’s control.

Changes to the maintenance requirement for PBS Migrants and dependants

  1. The maintenance funds thresholds for Points-Based System Migrants and their dependants are being increased in line with the cost of living. Note the changes to the maintenance thresholds will take effect from 01 July 2014.
  2. The required maintenance funds will increase for dependant applications of all Tier 1 sub categories, Tier 2 migrants and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) and (Youth Mobility Worker) migrants.  The new threshold for Tier 2 dependants will be £630.

Marian Dixon is head of the Wright Hassall business immigration team.  She is recognised as a leading expert in the field of business immigration by Legal 500, the International Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers and also among the legal community.

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Wright Hassall is a full service law firm which acts for both regional and national clients across a variety of sectors.
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