The changes will apply to all types of immigration applications made from the 6th April and it is important to check the new rules before submitting any application.
The changes to the rules can be summarised as follows:
- The Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) route has been expanded to include additional places for up to 1,000 international MBA graduates from UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). These graduates will be eligible to remain in the UK for a year after graduating in order to develop their own business idea or work in a start-up, after which they have the option to stay on in the UK as a skilled worker or entrepreneur.
- The Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) category has seen changes to the application process so that applicants will no longer have to pay the full fee up front. This will also mean applicants will not have to submit their passport to the UKBA while their application for endorsement by a designated competent body is being considered.
- Numerous changes have been made to Tier 2 of the Points Based System, which include updating the list of occupations skilled to NQF level 6 to the new SOC 2010 system, increases to the minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2 and changes to the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).
- Changes to Tier 4, which allow PhD graduates to remain in the UK in the same visa category for up to one year after the end of their course. This change allows such highly skilled individuals to find sponsored employment or to set up as an entrepreneur.
- Family and private life – these are minor changes to reflect feedback from legal practitioners and UKBA caseworkers.
In addition a number of minor technical changes, corrections and updates have also been made to the Immigration Rules. These include:
- Minor changes to ensure there are the necessary requirements for granting discretionary leave to unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and amending the length of discretionary leave granted to these young people to simplify the process and provide some continuity for them.
- Clarification of the general visitor rules.
- The provisions in Tier 5 for temporary workers have been updated.
- Minor changes to the Rules on long residence and on work-related settlement.
- Introducing a new protection route recognising stateless persons.