Changes to UK immigration system announced

From the beginning of October a number of changes to the UK’s immigration rules will come into effect, with the aim of providing greater flexibility for businesses and workers.

The changes, which were listed in a ministerial statement last week, are as follows:

  • Removing the English language requirement for intra-company transferees;
  • Making it easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2 (skilled worker);
  • Waiving share ownership restrictions for some senior staff; and
  • Allowing some students to work as interns under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme.

Meanwhile, tourist and business visitors will benefit from the following changes:

  • Allowing tourists and business visitors to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit.
  • Expanding the activities a business visitor can do in the UK.
  • Removing the prospective student route.

Further changes include:

  • Expanding checks to ensure applicants for work and student visas are genuine, and that they intend to meet the conditions of leave they apply for;
  • Introducing powers to refuse Tier 4 extension (adult student) applications where the applicant cannot speak English;
  • Introducing a scheme which allows some locally engaged staff in Afghanistan to relocate to the UK;
  • Setting new youth mobility scheme quotas for 2014;
  • Enabling those who demonstrate exceptional promise in the arts to apply under Tier 1 (highly skilled worker);
  • Changes to the way the UK Border Agency handles settlement applications for refugees who have committed crimes, and adding the power to curtail leave for persistent or serious offenders;
  • Introducing temporary Immigration Rules so participants and personnel can come to the UK during the 2014 Commonwealth Games; and
  • Minor changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules, including those relating to family life.

In addition to all these amendments, from 28th October there will also be changes to the way applicants for indefinite leave to remain in the UK are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.