Whilst we still wait for the much anticipatedGovernment Whitepaper on the reforms to the UK Immigration Rules which has nodoubt been delayed due to the current Brexit debacle, the Minister of State forImmigration, Caroline Nokes did publish a writtenstatement on 06 December 2018 (which coincided with the suspension ofthe Tier 1 (Investor) visa) and gave a flavour of what changes will takeplace. They include:
- Introducing the “start-up” visa, which was initially announced in June this year, and which the Government says will build upon the success of the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. At this early stage it would appear that the UK will want to use this visa route to encourage more overseas entrepreneurial talent to set up their business in the UK i.e. not just graduates of UK universities. The announcement also states that in addition to higher education institutions a UK business may also be able to endorse applicants under the start-up visa, though what is not clear at this stage is whether the start-up visa will replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or whether this route will run side by side; and
- The introduction of a new “Innovator” visa and which will replace the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route. The Minister’s announcement states that this will be targeted towards experienced business people and unlike the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) the innovator route will require an endorsement by a business sponsor who will need to assess an applicant’s business idea for innovation, viability and scalability; and
- Tier 1 (Investor) visa was suspended suddenly without any warning but with the announcement that it had been done so because of widespread fraud and as a mechanism used for money laundering. The investor category will see a number of reforms and it is likely that applicants will need to prove that they have held the funds that they propose to invest (minimum of £2m) for at least 2 years as opposed to 90 days and applicants will no longer be able to invest in UK government bonds but only in UK trading and active companies; and
- The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa will be expanded to allow applications from leading architects to be endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects under the remit of the Arts Council England. It does appear that the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa will be a favoured category of the UK government to attract leading and emerging talent to the UK having earlier in the year expanded the route to include endorsement of leading fashion designers and doubling the number of endorsements that will be given in a year from 1000 to 2000; and
- The Tier 5 (Religious Worker) route will be tightened to ensure that this visa category is not being used by charities and religious institutions to fill roles that should be carried out by Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) migrants. The proposals announced in The Statement will require applicants under the Tier 5 (Religious Worker) route to have a stronger command of the English language and will not allow someone under this route to return home and immediately re-enter the UK under the Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) category but instead there will be a “cooling off period” of 12 months preventing an applicant to do so; and
- Further announcements and clarification will be given of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme which will allow non-EEA migrant workers to come and work in the UK temporarily (for up to 6 months) in the Horticultural sector.
As soon as further clarification is given or indeed theWhitepaper published we will of course update you.
NB *Since writing this article the Government announced on 11 December 2018 that the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa will not be suspended but that they are committed to reform this visa category and that any suspension will be announced as part of the changes if necessary.