The government has today (7 March 2019) brought forward a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, which further demonstrate its commitment to attracting leading talent, whilst also cracking down on abuse.
The rules will provide skilled business people access to two new visa routes to set up businesses in the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.
Both routes will see endorsing bodies and business experts – rather than the Home Office – assessing applicants’ business ideas. This will make sure that the routes are focussed on only the most innovative, viable and scalable businesses.
Alongside these new routes, the Home Office is also bringing forward reforms to the Tier 1 (Investor) route. The reformed route will better protect the UK from illegally obtained funds, whilst ensuring that genuine investors have access to a viable visa route. Applicants will be required to prove that they have had control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds.
The Home Office will also extend the salary exemption in the Tier 2 (General) visa so that the NHS and schools can continue to attract and hire experienced teachers, nurses and paramedics from overseas. The salary exemption applies to all nurses and paramedics, medical radiographers and secondary school teachers whose subjects are in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.
A two-year scheme, which will allow up to 20 nurses from Jamaica to come to the UK to gain vital experience in NHS hospitals as part of an exchange scheme, has also been announced.
The government has already supported and relocated over 1,000 brave Afghan interpreters and their families, so they can rebuild their lives in the UK. However, in recognition of their support for the UK’s armed forces, the Home Office is bringing forward rules changes so that eligible partners and children of interpreters still in Afghanistan can relocate to the UK at a later date.
Commenting on the changes, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:
My priority is making sure that talented business people continue to see the UK as an attractive destination to develop their businesses. This will help create more jobs across the country and ensure our economy continues to thrive.
In addition to welcoming those who wish to contribute to our economy, we also recognise our duty to support the vulnerable. That is why I am proud that we are extending our commitment to the brave Afghan interpreters and their families so that they can rebuild their lives here, together, in safety.
However, what we will not tolerate is those who seek to abuse our system and that is why I am bringing forward new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.
Other changes to the rules include:
The list of countries which benefit from the streamlined documentary requirements, found in Appendix H, has been updated to include Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Tunisia. This change will not only benefit students, who will be able to apply for visas through a more streamlined process, but also help to ensure that the UK’s world-leading education institutions remain competitive internationally.
We are increasing the initial period of leave granted to those who qualify for Stateless Leave from 30 months to 5 years, making it easier for those who are genuinely stateless and not able to live in any other country and cutting unnecessary bureaucracy. Also, to deter those who seek to abuse the system to benefit from stateless leave, changes are being made to the rules to make sure that only those who are genuinely entitled to stateless leave can qualify. This makes clearer that an individual is required to show that they have tried to obtain a nationality or right of residence in another country that they could reasonably expect to be entitled to, before benefitting from stateless leave. The government is clear that we will not tolerate those who seek to play the system to remain in the UK.
This government remains committed to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels, but also recognises the need to attract people who bring benefits to the UK and enable employers to have access to the skills they need.