Immigration Rules and Sponsorship Arrangements – Changes

A written ministerial statement has been laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, on Thursday 13 March 2014.

The following changes, will come into effect only on 6 April 2014, introduce better flexibility for businesses and support growth. Changes include:

• Expanding the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to allow applications from those in the digital sector, who are endorsed by Tech City UK as a leading talent;

• Making it easier for applicants in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to apply from overseas, and to count time spent in other immigration categories towards qualifying for settlement;

• Removing the ring-fenced places for MBA graduates and the current restrictions on participants’ graduation dates under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category;

• Creating a new category for overseas government sponsored language teachers under the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange route;

• Other minor, scheduled changes to the Points Based System.

Other changes include:

• Introducing a visa regime for all visitors from Venezuela. We keep the visa system under regular review to make sure we have the right regimes in the right places. The new regime will be implemented from the 5th May 2014.

• Increasing the threshold for maintenance funds for student, worker and family migrants, in line with the costs of living in the UK.  These changes will affect all applications made from 1st July 2014.  As applicants need to have held the funds for 28 or 90 days, anyone planning to apply from July is advised to take note of these changes now.

Also, some changes will be making to the sponsorship arrangements from 6 April 2014. Changes include:

• A clearer policy on criminal convictions.

• We will no longer grant B-rated licenses for applications under Tier 2 and Tier 5. Applicants must be able to achieve an A-rating otherwise the application will be refused.  (The policy on downgrading an A-rated licence to a B-rating remains unchanged.)

• Applications for Tier 2 (General) licence may be refused if we do not believe the applicant can offer genuine employment which meets the Tier 2 (General) requirements.

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