The Home Office introduced several changes to the UK Immigration Rules last year. The main changes to the Immigration Rules are as follows:
- For Tier 1 (Investor) applicants wishing to extend their leave or settle in the UK, the financial institutions that manage their portfolio will now be required to certify that their funds have only been invested in qualifying investments, and that no loan has been secured against the funds.
- There are also clarifications on the profits Tier 1 (Investor) applicants are allowed to withdraw from their investments during their qualifying period.
- The Home Office has announced changes to exempt doctors and nurses from the monthly Tier 2 (General) restricted Certificate of Sponsorship limit, which currently limits the maximum number of restricted Certificate of Sponsorship which can be issued to 20,700 per year.
- The Home Office has previously made changes on 7 December 2017 requiring main applicants who are applying to settle in the UK on or after 11 January 2018 not to be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 month period during their full qualifying period (known as the “rolling basis” calculation). This change has now been reversed and would only be applicable to any period of leave granted after 11 January 2018.
- The Home Office has introduced the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (“UKVCAS”) which changed the way how visa applications are submitted. Under the new system, applicants under most categories will need to submit their visa applications online and make an appointment at one of the 57 UKVCAS centres in the UK to scan and upload their visa application documents and enrol their biometric information. Visa applicants can also pay to use an expedited service whereby the Home Office aim to decide their visa applications within 5 working days (Priority Service) or by the next working day (Super Priority Service). The first UKVCAS centre opened on 9 November 2018 and all Premium Service Centres have been closed down since 8 January 2019.
It is anticipated that the UK will formally leave the European Union on 29 March 2019. It is expected that there will be substantial changes to the UK Immigration Rules, such as the new changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) route, which is expected to take place in 2019. The following changes have been proposed:-
- Implementing tougher checks on applicants’ sources of funds to tackle money laundering;
- The applicants will need to be in control of the funds for 2 years, which is an increase from the current requirement of just 90 days; and
- Applicants will no longer be able to make their specified investments by purchasing government bonds.
It is important for investors to seek professional legal advice in advance on any changes to the Immigration Rules and how these will affect them.