This report covers the U.K. government’s Statement of Changes affecting various immigration rules, such as the Tier 1 and 2 visa categories and the EU Settlement Scheme.
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On 7 March 2019, in a ‘Statement of Changes,’ the U.K. government published a number of modifications to the Immigration Rules1.
The Statement of Changes introduces changes to the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa categories as well as the EU Settlement Scheme, which, for the most part, are expected to take effect from 6 April 2019. However, the main impact on Tier 1, as well as the new ‘Start-Up’ and ‘Innovator’ visas, will be coming into force as soon as 29 March 2019. Furthermore, the U.K. government has also announced that some immigration application fees will increase 2.
Both the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories will be replaced by new Start-up and Innovator routes. These applications will require a business idea to be assessed as innovative, viable, and scalable by the relevant endorsing body.
The EU Settlement Scheme will fully open to all European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss nationals and will be expanded from the current test phase to include applicants applying under a wider range of EU law rights (for prior coverage, see GMS Flash Alert 2018-134, 19 October 2018).
Notwithstanding uncertainty around the U.K.’s departure from the EU – something that daily is creating headlines – the U.K.’s immigration rules continue to evolve in line with U.K. government policy. Recent changes only have a minor impact on day-to-day applications submitted by employees of global organisations.
However, the increased fees for a small subset of applications will have a financial impact which needs to be factored into future immigration budgets.
The changes to Tier 1 and the EU Settlement Scheme are important to the current and future immigration options for EU nationals, entrepreneurs, and investors in the United Kingdom.
The rules are being tightened in terms of what an individual can invest in and how long funds need to be held in order to support U.K. businesses and discourage money laundering through the Tier 1 (Investor) scheme. To achieve this the following changes are being made:
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category will close on 29 March 2019 and the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category will close on 5 July 2019. They will be replaced by the categories of Start-up and Innovator. This will involve a transition as well as new rules as follows:
Following the testing phases of the EU Settlement Scheme, the U.K. government has published changes to the rules to allow it to proceed with fully opening the Scheme for resident EU citizens and their family members from 30 March 2019.
The government has published figures that show that at the end of February 2019 more than 150,000 applications had been received of which 135,000 (nearly 90 percent) had already been concluded and 71 percent of those concluded were granted settled status, with the rest granted pre-settled status and none refused.
The main changes from the pilot to the full roll-out are noted below:
From 29 March 2019 onwards, certain applications will be subject to increased fees. The optional super priority service will be increased from £610 to £800 and all visitor visa fees will be increased slightly.
The Statement of Changes was preceded by uncertainty relating to the Tier 1 (Investor) category which was reported to have been suspended by the government on 6 December 2018.3 We welcome the relative clarity of policy provided by these changes and the overall move towards expert assessment of business credibility over financial resources for the entrepreneur categories and its successors.
The changes to the EU Settlement Scheme come amidst great uncertainty over the terms or even fact of departure of the U.K. from the European Union. We could therefore see last minute changes of policy as we get closer to Brexit (now slated for 22 May 2019 or 12 April 2019). However, the overall framework is in line with announced government policy.
1 For the full Statement of Changes, click here.
3 See “Investor visa scheme halted in money laundering crackdown,” in the BBC (online), 6 December 2018, at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46463319 . Please note that this is a 3rd party (non-governmental, non-KPMG) website. Provision of the URL does not represent an endorsement of the website by KPMG LLP (U.K.).
The KPMG Legal Services – Immigration Team has a wealth of experience in transactional, advisory, and compliance assurance services. We will be able to advise your business in relation to practical considerations in light of the above changes, as well as what this means for your long-term recruitment and compliance strategies.
* Please note the KPMG International member firm in the United States does not provide immigration or labour law services. However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in the United Kingdom.
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