Today the Government published a new Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules, a 72-page document with Explanatory Memorandum spanning over 18 pages. There are different commencement dates: 20 October 2014, 6 November, 1 December 2014 and 1 January 2015.
The changes start to unfold the new system of administrative reviews which will eventually substitute the current immigration appeals system. The new system is being phased from 20 October 2014, on which day Tier 4 migrants will be the first to lose their rights of appeal.
Tier 1 investors have 21 days to apply under the existing rules. The new provisions, effective from 6 November 2014, will double the required amount of investment (currently £ 1 million). Intriguingly, new powers are also vested on immigration caseworkers to refuse investor visas in various circumstances, including those where the funds are obtained by means that would have been deemed unlawful in the UK or where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant is not in control of the investment funds.
Some new provisions will affect Tier 1 entrepreneur migrants. For instance, those who are making the application in the UK will not be able to rely on funds held outside the UK.
Some changes affecting Tier 1 general migrants are aimed at giving opportunity to those extending the visa before the closing date for extension in April 2015 to extend to a period bringing the total stay under this route to five years. This is intended to safeguard an opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to remain on completion of five years in this immigration category.
Tier 2 of the Points Based System will allow room for a more rigorous “genuine vacancy” test, which already applies in the context of sponsorship licence applications. Under the new provisions, Tier 2 visa application may also be refused on the grounds that there is no genuine job vacancy, the job description has been exaggerated to meet the Tier 2 skills threshold or has been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited.
Changes affecting marriage visitor route are designed to prevent visitors in the UK entering into a sham marriage or civil partnership.
Domestic workers will not be allowed to make repeated visits, copying provisions applying for visitors to the UK.
There are some minor changes or clarifications related spouse visa applications, in particular in relation to acceptable sources of income.