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UNITED KINGDOM: New Changes to the Immigration Rules

On September 6, 2013, a number of changes to the Immigration Rules were announced and set before Parliament. The changes, effective October 1, 2013, will mean greater flexibility for businesses and workers and include:

  • removing the English language requirement for intra-company transferees when they extend their stay in the UK after three years;
  • making it easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2;
  • waiving share ownership restrictions for senior staff earning more than £152,100; and
  • allowing some students to work as interns for up to 12 months under the Tier 5 government-authorized exchange scheme.

Tourists and business visitors will benefit from the following changes:

  • allowing them to study for up to 30 days, including English language in some cases, where it is not the main purpose of their visit;
  • expanding the activities a business visitor can perform in the UK; and
  • 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 for which they apply;
  • introducing the authority to refuse Tier 4 extension applications where the applicant cannot speak English;
  • introducing a scheme that allows some locally engaged staff in Afghanistan to relocate to the UK;
  • setting new youth mobility scheme numerical limits (quotas) for 2014 and adding Hong Kong to the list of participating countries;
  • enabling those who demonstrate exceptional promise in the arts to apply under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent);
  • changing how the Home Office deals with 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.

Beginning on October 28, 2013, there will also be changes to the way applicants for indefinite leave to remain in the UK must demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.


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