A new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was published on 7 March 2019. Statement of Changes HC1919 is comprehensive and includes detail about the new Innovator and Start-up categories, confirmation that Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) is to close at the end of the month and changes to Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 2, Tier 4 and the EU Settlement Scheme. We take a look at the changes that are likely to be of most relevance to our clients.
Many of the changes are due to come into effect on 29 March 2019 with further changes coming into force later in the year.
The new Innovator category and the closure of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route is set to close on 29 March 2019. Those who wish to make an application to enter this category must submit it on or before 28 March 2019 in order for it to be considered.
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be replaced by the new Innovator category (which appears from the Statement of Changes to only be open to applicants from 1 August 2019), which we previously explored here. Individuals applying under the Innovator category will need to have access to investment funds of £50,000, unless an exception applies, and be endorsed by an approved endorsing body. The endorsing body must confirm that the applicant’s business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.
Organisations wishing to become an endorsing body must:
- demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including resident workers. (Exceptionally this requirement may be waived, for example where a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own track record.);
- be supported by a UK or devolved government department as being clearly linked to that department’s policy objectives; and
- be able to competently assess applicants’ business ventures against the endorsement criteria.
The organisation must also be willing to keep in contact with the applicant throughout their leave, report to the Home Office as required and withdraw support from the applicant if certain triggers are met.
Applicants will need to be able to speak English at level B2. Successful applicants will be granted an initial period of three year’s leave.
In order for an individual to extend their leave in this category, they will need to show that they have made significant achievements in relation to their business as compared to their business plan.
Extension applications for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.
The new Start-up category
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route is to be replaced by the new Start-up category. The Start-up category appears, from the Statement of Changes, to only be open to applicants from 1 August 2019.
Those making an application under the Start-up category will not need access to investment funds and no longer need to be graduates. They will however require an endorsement from an approved endorsing body which will assess their business idea. As with the Innovator route, the endorsing body must confirm that the applicant’s business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.
An endorsing body must be either:
- a UK Higher Education Institution with established processes for ‘identifying, nurturing and developing’ entrepreneurs among its students; or
- an organisation with a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, or a new organisation set up for this purpose by another body with such a track record, and its request to become an endorsing body is supported by a UK or devolved government department as being clearly linked to the department’s policy objectives.
Applicants will need to be able to speak English at level B2 CEFR. Successful applicants will be granted two year’s leave and will be able to progress into the Innovator category.
It will continue to be possible to make an application under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route until 5 July 2019. Endorsing bodies for this scheme can continue to issue endorsement letters until 5 April 2019.
The main change is that rather than demonstrating that the £2 million investment funds have been held by the applicant for 90 days prior to the application, they will now need to show that the funds have been held for the last two years.
Individuals will no longer be able to invest in government bonds but will instead need to invest in UK businesses.
In addition, they will need to have confirmation from a UK bank that all due diligence checks have been carried out.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) extension and settlement applications
Changes are being made to provide greater assurance that Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants are genuinely engaged in business. Applicants will be asked to provide an overview of their business’s activity, details of their role within the business, and the job titles/descriptions for the settled worker employees for whom they are claiming points.
The Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the new Statement states that:
‘the government has judged it proportionate to apply these changes to future extension and settlement applications by entrepreneurs already in the category’.
Tier 2 (General)
The minimum salary levels for Tier 2 (General) applicants will be updated with effect from 30 March 2019. The last change to these salary levels occurred in 2017. The Statement confirms that:
‘if an applicant has made an application for entry clearance or leave to remain using a Certificate of Sponsorship that was assigned to the applicant by their Sponsor before 30 March 2019, the application will be decided in accordance with the rules in force on 29 March 2019’.
After the Tier 2 monthly Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS) allocation cap was met repeatedly last year some technical changes have been made to the points system used to determine which RCoS applications will be approved.
Those with leave under Tier 4 who wish to switch into Tier 2 will be able to make an application up to three months before the expected completion date of their course. However, it remains the case that an applicant cannot start working under Tier 2 until they have successfully completed their course or been granted Tier 2 leave, whichever is earlier.
Tier 4 changes come into effect on 6 April 2019.
The list of ‘low risk’ nationalities under Appendix H will be updated to include nationals from Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Tunisia. Nationals listed within this Appendix can provide a lesser degree of documentary evidence in a Tier 4 application. However, nationals from Argentina, the Maldives, and Trinidad and Tobago will be removed from this list.
Tier 4 (General) students will also be able to use loans provided by financial institutions, in order to meet the maintenance requirements. Tier 4 (Child) students will be able to rely on funds held or being provided to them by a foster carer or close relative.
Leave granted under Tier 4 (General) to students who are under 18 years old will not be included in study limit calculations. This ensures that the Immigration Rules reflect the current guidance.
Finally, the definition of ‘Employment as a Doctor in Training’ will include Postgraduate Dentists. Reference to the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board will be replaced by the General Medical Council.
Definition of ‘Professional sportsperson’
The previous changes to the definition of ‘Professional sportsperson’ caused some controversy. This Statement of Changes contains a minor amendment in that, as from 30 March 2019, a Professional sportsperson will no longer be defined as someone who:
‘is providing services as a sportsperson or coach at any level of sport’.
Whilst the updated definition remains broad, the removal of this particular point will allow many who are subject to this condition to undertake a wider range of sporting/coaching activities.
EU Settlement Scheme
Some changes have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the scheme being opened fully to the public on 30 March 2019.
The scheme is currently in a trial phase allowing certain EU nationals and their family members to apply for settled or pre-settled status. From 30 March, nationals of EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and nationals of Switzerland, along with their family members, will also be able to apply. Eligible applicants will be able to make an application under the scheme from overseas.
Applicants will also be able to post relevant documents or attend their local scanning centre instead of using the much commented upon app.
The scheme will also be open for more complex cases including ‘Surinder Singh’ cases and those who have a derivative right to reside including ‘Chen carers’, ‘Ibrahim and Teixeira’ cases, and ‘Zambrano carers’.
You can keep up with our latest Brexit immigration analysis here.
New Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules: Conclusion
As we continue to review the Statement of Changes, we will provide in-depth analysis on how the changes may be relevant to various sectors, industries and individuals.
In the meantime, if you require any further information, please do contact us.