Changes to the Immigration Rules effective from January 2019

A new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules has been laid down recently. These changes are set to take effect from the 10th January 2019.

The main changes are set out as follows. 

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

This category usually requires prospective applicants to be endorsed by a Designated Competent Body. The endorsement of arts applicants is being widened to include those in the field of architecture. The Royal Institute of British Architects operating within the endorsement remit of Arts Council England will assess the applicants.

Currently, only applicants who request 5 years’ leave qualify for the additional 4-month period. In the recent change, the grant periods for entry clearance applicants have been amended to include an additional 4-month period for each potential grant of leave.

Moreover, digital technology applicants who as a result of the Tech Nation online application form, will no longer be required to supply paper copies of their specified evidence to Home Office.

Tier 2 (Points Based System)

There is now an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirement for Tier 2 (ICT) applicants extending leave in the United Kingdom. Applicants are required to obtain an ATAS certificate before studying a postgraduate qualification in certain sensitive subjects, knowledge of which could be used in programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery.

Tier 4 (Points Bases System)

This route consists of Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child). It is often used by non-EEA nationals wishing to study in the UK.

Changes are being made to students who rely on student loans or funds from official financial sponsors. They are not required to demonstrate that the funds have been held for a period of 28 consecutive days. Instead, Tier 4 migrant must have the funds available to them on the date of application. The only exception is where the funds are being provided as a financial loan and the student separately confirms when the funds will be available to them.

Moreover, another important change is that if the applicant is a Tier 4 (Child) Student, the specified documents submitted with their application must confirm who is providing the maintenance funds for their use in studying and living in the UK and that the funds will remain available to them unless used to pay for course fees and living costs.

Tier 5 (Point Based System)

Currently, Tier 5 Religious Workers are permitted to fill roles, which ‘may include preaching, pastoral work and non-pastoral work’. A migrant is allowed to come to the UK and fill roles without having to demonstrate an ability to speak English. The new change now directs these applicants towards the appropriate (existing) category of Tier 2. The new requirement for Tier 5 Religious Workers will prohibit employers from assigning a certificate of sponsorship when the role is that of a Minister of Religion. This is to ensure that the needs of religious establishments are still catered for under Tier 2.

The “cooling off” period requirement requires the Tier 5 Religious Workers and Charity Workers to spend a minimum of 12 months outside the UK before returning to the UK either under a Tier 5 or Tier 2 visa. This will prevent migrants from applying for consecutive visas, thereby using the routes to live in the UK for extended periods, so as to reflect the temporary purpose of the routes better.

 Seasonal workers scheme

A new pilot scheme is due to come into effect in 2019. This scheme is to enable non-EEA migrant workers to come to the UK to undertake seasonal employment in the horticultural sector. The formal date of implementation of this scheme will be announced in due course.

Domestic violence provisions – Partnership visa

Victims of abuse who are in the UK under a partner visa or sponsorship by a British citizen or settled citizen will be granted indefinite leave to remain if their relationship breaks down. These include partners of people with refugee status who have not yet been granted indefinite leave to remain.