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Changes to the Business Immigration Rules

On 16 October 2014 the Home Office published its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. The new Immigration Rules came into force on 6th November 2014, introducing a number of changes to the business immigration categories, including: Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (ICT), Tier 2 (Sportsperson), Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting), Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme), Tier 1 (Investor), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Business Visitor categories.

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT)

An assessment will now be made by the Home Office as to whether a genuine vacancy exists for Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applications. The application may be refused if UK Visas & Immigration is not satisfied that the job described by the sponsor genuinely exists.

Tier 2 Migrants cannot be sponsored to fill a position, undertake an on-going routine role or provide an on-going routine service for a third party who is not their sponsor. The Home Office will now undertake more checks to ensure that Tier 2 Migrants working on third-party sites are undertaking project-based work rather than routine work.

Tier 2 (General) extension applications will now be accepted if they are out of time, provided that the application is made not more than 28 days after the expiry of the applicant's previous visa.

A temporary provision, dating back to 2009, waiving the £20,500 minimum salary threshold where companies are reducing their employee's hours in order to avoid redundancies, has been moved.

Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting)

A change has been made to the list of governing bodies for the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) categories to include information on which Tier(s) each body may endorse applicants in. Updates have also been made to the contents of sports governing bodies.

Tier 5 Youth mobility Scheme

The annual allocation for participating countries on the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme has been set for January 2015. From 1st January 2015, the allocations for New Zealand will increase to 11,000.

Tier 1 (Investor)

The previous £1 million minimum investment threshold has been raised to £2 million.

A change has been made to require the full investment sum to be invested in prescribed forms of investment rather than 75% of the sum.

The previous requirement that the migrant's investment must be "topped up" if its market value falls has been removed for applications submitted after 6 November 2014. Instead, Tier 1 Investor visa holders will only need to purchase new qualifying investments if they sell part of their portfolio and need to make a further investment in order to maintain the investment threshold.

The previous provision of the investor visa rules under which the required investment sum could be sourced as a loan has been removed.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

For applications for further leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur made in the UK, a new requirement has been added that the funds to be invested in the business must also be in the UK. This change has been introduced in order to assist in verifying that the funds are genuine.

A change has been made to require applicants for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur to show that they have invested their funds, if they have not been required to do so in a previous application. This change will apply to applicants for accelerated indefinite leave to remain under the entrepreneur category, who have not made an extension application before applying for indefinite leave.

A number of technical clarifications have been made to evidential requirements relating to funds held in joint accounts, multiple bank accounts, or another business.

Clarifications have also been made to the evidential requirements where an entrepreneur visa applicant has already established a business, to the job creation requirements for indefinite leave to remain, and to the definitions of "Venture Capital firms", "new businesses" and "property development or property management".

Business Visitors

Lawyers travelling to the UK for business purpose may now provide direct advice to clients in the UK on litigation or international transactions provided that they remain paid and employed overseas.

Private medical visitors are able to apply for an initial visa of up to 11 months, and extension of up to 6 months at a time, if they are an ongoing need.

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