Changes to the UK’s immigration rules have recently been introduced by the UK’s immigration minister Mark Harper. These changes have been implemented in a bid to make the UK a more attractive destination for international business. In addition he also announced measures designed to attract more international students to the UK.
A written Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was issued to Parliament on the 6th September last year. There are a number of small changes all of which have been designed to make UK immigration more business friendly. These changes affect people that wish to apply for a Tier 1 visa UK (high value migrants) and those that wish to apply for a Tier 2 visa UK (skilled workers).
An overview of the changes is detailed below;
• The English language requirement for intra-company transfers has been removed. Previously workers who were applying for a UK Tier 2 Visa had to pass an English language test if they intended to stay in the UK for more than three years.
• Higher emphasis has been placed on making it easier for people with a Tier 1 visa (Graduate Entrepreneur) to switch to a Tier 2 Visa UK. At present there are just 2000 graduate entrepreneur visas available annually to international graduates of UK universities with strong business propositions.
• New provisions in Tier 1 make it easier for artists classed as having exceptional promise to qualify for a UK visa. These visas are granted to individuals who are “internationally recognised as world leaders or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts, and who wish to work in the UK”. Prior to these new provisions being introduced it was very difficult to obtain a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) with just 70 people successfully obtaining one in 2012.
• Restrictions on share-ownership that apply to high-earning staff have been removed. Previously workers that held a UK Tier 2 visa were not permitted to own more than 10% shares in the company that sponsored their initial Tier 2 visa application.
Other smaller changes include allowing some students with Tier 4 visas to undertake internships in the UK, allowing business visitors the opportunity to get involved in more activities such as training courses and allowing both business visitors and tourists to take part in some study providing of course it is incidental to the main purpose of their visit.
Mr Harper communicated to the press that he felt that these changes would “ensure that the UK continues to attract global talent to work for British businesses and study at our world-class universities”.