Tier 1 Visa Key Rule Changes in Force from 6 November 2014


7 mins

Posted on 09 Nov 2014

As of January 2015: For up to date guidance on all Tier 1 entrepreneur, Tier 1 investor visa applications please click here 

The Home Office recently announced new Immigration Rule changes. Most of the changes came into force on 6 November 2014. 

The following is a summary of the main changes which were presented to Parliament on 16 October 2014.

New administrative review process

An administrative review process has been introduced for correcting casework errors for persons refused Leave to Remain. Administrative review will be available where there is no right of appeal, and the aim is to complete each review within 28 days. New evidence will be prohibited from being considered, although there will be some exceptions. Initially, the review process will only apply to Tier 4 migrants seeking Leave to Remain under the Points Based System, and their partners and children. The review will be by a different person from the original decision maker.

Correcting errors

Applicants who submit an in time but invalid application will be more easily able to correct errors or omissions which would render their application invalid, without running out of time. This means a lot more cases are likely to be approved in the first instance, once the errors are remedied, instead of being immediately rejected.

Greater flexibility for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category

More flexibility is provided for applicants in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category (i.e. for those who lead the world or show exceptional promise in the fields of sciences, humanities, engineering and the arts) including 5-year grants of leave and removal of the English language requirement for extension applications. Also, the criteria and list of notable Industry awards are expanded for applicants in the film, television, animation, post-production and visual effects industry.

Changes to Tier 1 (Investor) category

Changes have been made to the Tier 1 (Investor) category (i.e. for high net worth individuals making a substantial investment to the UK) to improve its benefits to the UK. In particular, the £1 million minimum investment threshold has increased to £2 million, it can no longer be sourced from a loan, and all of it must now be invested in prescribed forms of investments. A consultation document will be published in due course on the type of investments the route should encourage. A welcomed change is that the migrant’s investment will no longer need to be ‘topped up’ if its market value falls. There is also a new subjective element where even though all the criteria are met, an application can be refused if there are reasonable grounds to believe:

  • The applicant is not in control of the investment funds;
  • The funds were obtained unlawfully; or
  • The character, conduct or associations of the party providing the funds means approving the application is not conducive to the public good.

Thankfully, transitional arrangements have been put in place for Tier 1 (Investor) migrants who have already entered this route pre 6 November 2014. They will not be subject to these changes and can rely on the £1 million investment level when they apply for extensions or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Changes for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants who are applying from within the UK with the purpose of setting up, taking over or running a business are now prevented from relying on funds which are outside the UK to assist in verifying the funds are genuine. Applicants for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) will be required to show that they have invested their funds in the UK. Those applying under the accelerated route for ILR must also show they have invested their funds from 6 November 2014. A number of technical clarifications have also been made to evidential requirements relating to funding held in joint accounts, multiple accounts or another business; where an applicant has already established a business; to the job creation requirements for ILR, and to the definitions of Venture Capital firms, “new business” and “property development or property management”.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applications

Tier 2 of the Points Based System caters for migrant workers with an offer of a skilled job from an employer that holds a Sponsor Licence. For Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applications, there will now be an assessment of whether a genuine vacancy exists. This means applications can be refused where there are reasonable grounds to believe the job described by the Sponsor does not genuinely exist; has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 threshold; or in respect of the Tier 2 (General) category has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited; or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not qualified to do the job. It is also now confirmed that migrants cannot be sponsored to fill a position for a third party who is not the sponsor.

Another key change is that Tier 2 (General) applicants extending their leave during the 28 day period after their leave has expired will be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test if they are continuing to work in the same role for the same employer. Previously the exemption only applied if the applicant still had current leave as Tier 2 (General) migrant when they were making their extension application.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)

For the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS), the annual allocation of places for participating countries for 2015 is set; two work experience schemes are added to the list of Government Authorised Exchange schemes; and four Mandarin Teacher’s schemes are removed.

Business Visitors

The Business Visitor route enables individuals to carry out a wide range of permitted activities in the UK provided they remain paid and employed overseas. The new Rule changes have made this route more flexible to allow: 

  • scientists and researchers to collaborate on an international project that is being led from the UK; 
  • overseas lawyers, who are employees of international law firms which have offices in the UK, to advise UK clients on litigation or international transactions provided they remain paid and employed overseas; and 
  • graduates of an overseas nursing school to take an Objective Structured Clinical Examination in the UK.

Private Medical visitors

Private Medical visitors are able to apply for entry clearance for up to 11 months at the outset where their treatment is likely to be longer than six months. The rules are also made clearer that such visitors may extend their leave for a period of up to six months when on-going treatment in the UK is needed.

Overseas Domestic Worker in a Private Household

The Overseas Domestic Worker in a Private Household rules are clarified to prevent repeat visits that amount to de facto residence. The intention behind this is apparently to avoid exploitation of workers and to harmonise the requirements with those applying as general visitors.

Knowledge of Language and Life (KOLL) requirement

Changes to the Knowledge of Language and Life (KOLL) requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications now make it clear that an applicant may be required to attend an interview and/ or retake the relevant examinations or tests to prove that the KOLL requirement is met.

Other changes

Other changes include:

  • Visitors coming to the UK to marry or to form a civil partnership face stricter rules in order to prevent this route being used for sham marriages or sham civil partnerships in the UK.
  • The rules relating to family and private life are amended and clarified. In particular, this allows applicants more scope for meeting the minimum income threshold requirement.
  • All transit passengers entering the UK will be required to hold a valid exemption document under the transit without visa scheme.

The full Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules is available here.

If your business is affected by these changes, please contact our dedicated Business Immigration team, Owen Jones, Anita de Atouguia, Victoria Burnip, Mandeep Khroud, and Chloe Harrold.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.