In its Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, the Government has laid down the latest changes affecting UK immigration policy.
New Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme for Non-EU workers
2019 will see the introduction of a new two-year pilot scheme for seasonal employment in the horticultural sector.
The scheme will initially be trialled with selected operators, who will be permitted to hire non-EEA national workers in the UK for seasonal work for up to six months.
New Start Up Visa
Following the Home Secretary’s initial announcement last Summer, a new Start-Up Visa is due to be launched in the Spring.
The new route is expected to be a reworking of the existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, which is only available to graduates.
The Start-Up Visa is being designed to appeal to a broader range of entrepreneurs and start up businesses, and will be open to non-graduates. The primary eligibility criteria will centre on endorsement of the applicants by an appropriate business or higher education institution sponsor.
Replacing Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa with new Innovator Visa
The UK’s existing Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is to be withdrawn and replaced by the Innovator Visa.
Also due to go live in the Spring, the new visa route is expected to allow experienced business people to come to the UK to invest in new or existing enterprises.
The eligibility criteria focus on the business concept in respect of ‘innovation, viability and scalability’. As with the Start Up visa, applicants will have to secure endorsement by a sponsor.
The existing Entrepreneur visa remains open to new applications and renewals.
Reform of Tier 1 Investor Visa
The Tier 1 Investor visa was subject to significant media interest at the end of 2018 as the Home Office announced it would be temporarily suspending the route.
While the suspension did not go on to take effect, the government has confirmed in this latest statement that the route is subject to currently under review. Specifically, there are concerns that the criteria relating to proof of source of funds may not be strict or clear enough to counter potential abuse of the visa for money laundering purposes.
Again, applications are still being accepted under the current route for new visas and extensions.
Opening up the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa
With effect from 10th January, architects have been added to the list of approved professions eligible to apply to work in the UK under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.
Tier 5 restrictions
Tier 5 religious workers are now prohibited from filling roles as Ministers of Religion.
They must instead apply through the Tier 2 Minister of Religion sub-category. The main difference with this route is that applicants will become subject to the English language requirement.
IN addition, Tier 5 religious workers and Tier 5 charity workers will be prohibited from returning to the UK within 12 months of their visa expiry. This new ‘cooling off period is being introduced to prevent applicants within this route from gaining ongoing UK residency by applying for consecutive periods of leave.