Significant changes to the Immigration Rules

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Significant changes to the Immigration Rules

Published 12 marzo 2019

On 7 March 2019, the Secretary of State for the Home Department laid 296 pages of new Immigration Rules before Parliament which make some significant changes to the current immigration system and pave the way for the future immigration system. We look at some of the key changes below, some of which will come into force on 29 March 2019 with the remainder coming into force in stages.

Intention to close the Points Based System

There are a series of reforms to the current immigration system in progress and these latest changes to the Immigration Rules signal a shift away from the Points Based System. New business and work visa categories will be set out in Appendix W of the Immigration Rules and this will be added to over time.

Restricting Tier 1 (Investor)

Tighter controls are being implemented to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa category which enables individuals who have at least £2 million available for investment in the UK to live and settle in the UK.

This includes:

  •  Permitting investments in pooled investment vehicles where the investment vehicle also receives funding from a UK or devolved Government department or one of its agencies such as the British Business Bank or the Scottish Investment Bank.
  • Applicants having to show that they have either held the relevant funds for two years or proving the source of their funds through additional documents.
  • Investments which qualify under Tier 1 (Investor) will change from 29 March 2019 so that new entrants will be required to invest in companies which:
    • are registered with Companies House in the UK;
    • are registered with HMRC for corporation tax and PAYE;
    • have business accounts and a UK business bank account, both showing regular trading of its own goods or services; and
    • have at least two UK-based employees who are not its directors.
  • From 29 March 2019, UK Government Bonds will no longer qualify as acceptable investments for new Tier 1 (Investor) migrants.

Expansion of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category will close on 6 July 2019 to new entrants. However, the endorsements required to submit applications will only continue to be issued until 5 April 2019.

Although it is being closed, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category was seen as a success and the intention is to expand the category by implementing a new ‘Start Up’ visa category.

Closure and replacement of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is due to close on 29 March 2019 for new applicants. Historically, those with £200,000 available to set up or join a business in the UK were eligible to apply for a visa to come to the UK for 3 years and 4 months. Once in the UK, they were required to engage in business activity and create the equivalent of two full time jobs for British, European or settled workers.

At the end of the three years, applicants could extend their visa for a further two years being eligible to settle in the UK.

In its place, there will be a new ‘Innovator’ visa category.

New Start Up visa

The new Start Up visa will open on 29 March 2019 and will enable those seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time to get a visa valid for two years. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

Applicants will be required to demonstrate, amongst other things, that:

  • They have a credible business idea;
  • They have a sufficient understanding of the English language; and
  • They have sufficient maintenance funds to look after themselves without recourse to public funds.

The Start Up visa does not lead to settlement on its own but could if an applicant progresses to the Innovator category.

New Innovator visa

The new Innovator visa will also open on 29 March 2019. It has similar eligibility criteria to the Start Up visa in that applicants must demonstrate that they are seeking to establish an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate that they have £50,000 of funds or that they have achieved significant progress towards their previous endorsement.

Successful applicants will be a granted a visa for three years and can extend for a further three years. The Innovator category does also lead to settlement.

Changes to Tier 2

The appropriate salary rates under Tier 2 are being amended so that applicants must earn a minimum of £30,000 to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa.

There is a lower threshold of £20,800 in some circumstances including where:

  • The job is a specific public service occupation (i.e. medical radiographer, nurses, paramedics and secondary education teaching professionals in the subjects of maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin); or
  • The applicant is considered a new entrant due to:
    • A post-study work exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test (‘RLMT’);
    • The sponsor satisfying the RLMT requirements for new graduate jobs or internships; or
  • The Applicant being under the age of 26 on the date the application is made and the total duration of leave that they will be granted under Tier 2 or as a Work Permit Holder will not exceed three years and one month.

Please note that this update is not intended as legal advice and must not be taken as such. If you would like to discuss these changes with a specialist immigration lawyer, please feel free to contact us at


Shahjahan Ali

Shahjahan Ali

Bristol, London - Walbrook

+44 (0)117 918 2677

Key Contacts

Shahjahan Ali

Shahjahan Ali

Bristol, London - Walbrook

+44 (0)117 918 2677

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