By Teni Shahiean, CEO at OTS Solicitors and Oshin Shahiean, Managing Partner at OTS Solicitors
You might have thought that the reference to a 294-page document detailing the post Brexit statement of changes to UK immigration rules was a numerical error. It was not.
On the 7 March, the Home Office published its statement of changes to the immigration rules. The release of the statement of changes largely bypassed the media on the 7 March. Even top London immigration solicitors will have to carefully digest the massive statement of changes document and review how the new Home Office immigration rules will not only affect future visa applicants and migrants but those who have pending Home Office immigration applications.
The main changes introduced in the statement of changes to the immigration rules are:
• The opening up of the EU Settlement Scheme; and
• The introduction of the new Start-up visa replacing the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa; and
• Making reforms to the Tier 1 (investor) visa to protect against financial crime and ensure investments are of more benefit to the UK economy; and
• Making changes to the provisions relating to Stateless leave.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
The Home Office 294-page document detailing the post Brexit statement of changes to UK immigration rules is not for the faint hearted. The document will affect both individual migrants and their families (from high paid executives and entrepreneurs to nurses and will affect both EEA and non-EEA citizens) and businesses.
Many of the changes to the immigration rules will come in quickly. If you, your family or your business do not want to be caught out by the changes call Legal 500 law directory recommended OTS Solicitors for help on 0203 959 9123.
Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme and settled status for EU citizens
Just when the best London immigration solicitors and EU citizens living in the UK thought the EU Settlement Scheme rules had been broadly finalised with three weeks to go to Brexit, changes to the EU Settlement Scheme were announced in the 7 March Home Office statement.
The EU Settlement Scheme will lose its pilot status with effect from the 30 March and in relation to the Settlement Scheme the immigration rules changes state:
• Non-EU citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will be able to apply for settled status under the Settlement Scheme; and
• Zambrano carers (persons from a non-EEA country whose residence in the UK is required for a child or a dependant adult, who has British Citizenship, to live in the UK) and other non-EU citizens with derivative rights will be able to apply for settled status; and
• Non-EU Surinder Singh family members will be able to apply for settled status; and
• Isle of Man and Channel Island residents can apply for settled status; and
• EU citizens who have been working for the UK government or armed forces abroad in crown service will be able to use the period of service towards the five year settled status rule; and
• Confirmation of waiver of fees to apply for settled status under the Settlement Scheme; and
• Changes to the Settlement Scheme rules on documents so the Scheme is not restricted to those EU citizens with an EU biometric passport or biometric residence card in the case of a non-EU family member; and
• Relaxation of paperwork rules so evidence of identity and nationality is less strict provided the applicant for settled status can show that they are not able to provide the exact documents due to circumstances beyond their control or due to compelling practical or compassionate reasons.
The best London immigration solicitors will welcome the changes to the EU Settlement Scheme rules. That is because, in the main, the changes increase the number of potential EU citizens and their non-EU family members who will be eligible to apply for settled status as well as extending the scope of the Scheme to some non-EU citizens, such as Norwegian citizens.
The top London immigration solicitors advise anyone who is unsure of how the extension of the scope of the EU Settlement Scheme will affect them to take specialist legal advice as there are time limits to make an application for settled status.
New Start up visa
In 2018, the new Start-up visa was announced. The statement of changes to the immigration rules makes it clear that the Start-up visa will replace the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa with effect from the 6 July 2019:
In summary, the best London immigration solicitors say that the Start-up visa is similar to the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) category but applicants do not need to be graduates. This will no doubt be welcome news as it acknowledges that highly successful business ideas can come from non-academics or those unable to obtain graduate qualifications.
To be able to apply for a Start-up visa an applicant must be starting a new business for the first time in the UK. Applicants will now not need to secure initial funding and will have two years before having to apply for an Innovator visa if they want to continue to base their new company in the UK and they do not have any other alternate visa options.
The statement of changes to the immigration rules provide a great deal of detail on how the Home Office anticipate the new Start-up visas will operate, including:
• Applicants for a Start-up visa will have to be endorsed by an organisation in the UK such as a government agency, higher education provider, business accelerators or seed competitions; and
• Successful applicants for Start-up visas will need to be monitored to ensure compliance with the new immigration rules; and
• The move from Start-up visa to Innovator visa for individuals whose start-up business enterprises have met the relevant immigration rules criteria.
The Innovator visa
The Innovator visa will replace the Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa that is being abolished with effect from the 29 March 2019.
In a written statement, Caroline Nokes, immigration minister said that the entrepreneur visa had a history of “low quality projects which contribute little or nothing to the wider UK economy”, so hardly a ringing endorsement of the current entrepreneur visa scheme.
• Endorsement; and
• £50,000 or more to invest in the business without strict rules on the source of funds save that the funds need to be from a legitimate source.
There are significant changes to the Tier 1 (investor) visa coming into effect on the 29 March 2019.
In light of criticism about “golden ticket” Investor Visas for the ultra-wealthy with funds from dubious source by various sectors of the media, the Home Office has used the opportunity to strengthen the rules on investor funds. The requirement to open a UK bank account before applying for an Investor Visa is clarified in the immigration rules and in particular, the need for institutions to carry out due diligence and money laundering checks.
There has also been considerable criticism that Investor Visa applicants were able to “buy” an Investor Visa using asset structures that did not really assist the UK economy. The new immigration rules say that an applicant for an Investor Visa cannot buy UK national debt or purchase UK government bonds for the funds to qualify as investor funds.
At present, if the Home Office accepts that an applicant is stateless, they are given thirty months leave. The new immigration rules extend the initial grant to up to five years leave but there is a sting in the tail. The best London immigration solicitors say it will be harder to secure leave as a stateless person as under the new immigration rules the applicant has to establish that they cannot acquire any other nationality to secure leave as a stateless person. Therefore, for those who meet the tougher test, it is good news but even more tenacious advocacy will be required to help the stateless applicant meet the new immigration rules.
The top London immigration solicitors are still pouring over the 294-page document with just over three weeks to Brexit. Undoubtedly, this is only the first of many more documents that the Home Office will have to publish quickly if the UK is to be Brexit ready and to meet the government’s aim to curtail freedom of movement.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
If you or your business are at a loss about how the Home Office statement of changes to the immigration rules will affect you, your family or your business then do not delay in getting expert help from Legal 500 recommended central London OTS Solicitors.
Our specialist teams of Immigration Solicitors will help you understand your options and guide you through the immigration application process. With a vast amount of experience in immigration law and in challenging Home Office decisions, we can quickly respond to changes in immigration rules making sure that you have the most up to date advice tailored to your individual, personal and business needs.
Call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how our experienced London immigration law solicitors can help you.