Since 11 January 2018, changes to UK Immigration Rules have been published by UK Visas and Immigration. These changes have had an impact on the UK Immigration Points-based System. The Immigration Points-based System replaced the Labyrinthe Scheme in February 2008, and it categorised migration into five tiers. These consist of Tier 1, highly skilled and valued migrants, Tier 2, skilled workers (who are not available in the UK), Tier 3, low skilled workers, Tier 4, student migrants and Tier 5, temporary migrants. Tier 3, however, is currently not being used as no visa currently exists under this category.
At the beginning of January 2018, changes were introduced to the UK Points-based System. This included some of the following changes. Tier 1, Exceptional Talent Visas, were increased from 1000 successful applications to 2000 per annum. Those who are classed as world leaders in their fields are now able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 3 years, as opposed 5 years.
There have also been changes to the Tier 4 student visa holders, who are now eligible to apply for a Tier 2 Visa once they have finished their academic course, rather than having to wait until they have officially received their degree.
The Government are also aiming to transfer their current UK Visa Entry Clearance system to a digital format, to replace the physical stamps in an individual’s passport. This is to make travelling much quicker and straightforward. It is thought this change, however, will be gradually introduced.
There has also been changes to the law involving family members of Points-based System migrants. If applying in this category after 11 January 2018, applicants will have to prove their relationship with the main applicant. This includes submitting supporting documents, such as marriage/ civil partnership certificates, bank statements and utility bills. For applicants applying for settlement in the UK they must not be absent from the UK for more than 180 days during any 12 months over the 5-year period, in order for them to be entitled for a Leave to Remain visa.
More changes to UK immigration are yet to come, especially as Brexit is approaching us, however, what these changes will entail is yet be to be revealed.