UK Immigration rules changes from January 2018

Tier 1 Entrepreneur 
The requirements for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa have not in themselves been changed, however the new guidance clarifies and expands the previous wording.For example, the new wording seeks to prevent ‘recycling’ of funds i.e. applicants cannot base their application on funds already ‘used’ by another applicant, or family members.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
In support of the changes announced in the Autumn Budget 2017, the number of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visas allocated annually is being doubled to 2,000. The additional 1,000 visas will be held separately, in an unallocated pool draw on a first-come, first served basis. Exceptional talent visa holders (but not exceptional promise visa holders) are also now permitted to qualify for ILR after three years.

Resident Labour Market Test new exemptions 
In a move welcomed by the higher education sector, new exemptions to the Resident Labour Market test have been introduced in respect of researcher and reader posts. Posts that will be held by sponsored research team members or researchers in receipt of supernumerary research Awards and Fellowships are no longer subject to the RLMT.

PBS Visa Dependants 
PBS migrants applying for ILR are not permitted to be out of the country for more than 180 days in any 12 months during the qualifying period. Dependants of PBS migrants however had not been subject to this rule. The new changes now bring dependents under the 180 day requirement, and will apply to all ILR applications made after 11 January 2018.
This may affect Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Investor visa holders, where the business person had been in the UK on a dependant visa to enable them to benefit from the more relaxed travel restrictions in the lead up to ILR qualification.

Electronic entry clearance 
A new electronic entry clearance system is being rolled out from 2018. Individuals with electronic clearance will only have to present their passport or identity documents at the UK border for the Immigration Officer to check electronically for entry clearance. Electronic entry clearance will be trialled initially with a pilot group, ahead of wider implementation.