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On 7 March 2019 the Government announced that it is bringing forward a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, which further demonstrate a commitment to attracting leading talent, particularly due to Brexit, whilst also at the same time to address concerns in relation to abuse of the current Tier 1 Investor.
The rules will provide skilled business people access to two new visa routes to set up businesses in the UK – the start-up visa and the innovator visa. The two new routes will open on 29 March 2019.
This route will be open to those starting a business in the UK for the first time. Replacing the existing Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route, the Start-up visa will be for all start-ups and not limited to recent graduates. A key change will also be that that entrepreneurs will have double the amount of time – two years rather than one – to make their business a success before needing to make any more applications.
This is a new visa path path for more experienced businesspersons with funds available to invest in their business. However the amount of funding required is reduced and they will only need £50,000 to invest rather than the £200,000 currently required under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route. If their business succeeds then after three years they will be able to apply for settled status.
Both routes will see endorsing bodies and business experts as opposed to the Home Office assessing applicants’ business ideas. This is to seek to ensure that the routes are focussed on only the most innovative, viable and scalable businesses.
The Home Office is also bringing forward reforms to the Tier 1 (Investor) route. The changes are intended to better protect the UK from illegally obtained funds, whilst ensuring that genuine investors have access to a viable visa route.
Applicants will be required to prove that they have had control of the required £2 million for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of those funds.
Existing Tier 1 investors will be protected by transitional provisions allowing them until 5 April 2023 to apply for a visa extension under the existing rules, or to apply for settlement.
The Home Office will also extend the salary exemption in the Tier 2 (General) visa to assist the NHS and schools to continue to attract experienced teachers, nurses and paramedics from overseas. The exemption applies to all nurses and paramedics, medical radiographers and secondary school teachers whose subjects are in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.
A two-year scheme, which will allow up to 20 nurses from Jamaica to come to the UK to gain vital experience in NHS hospitals as part of an exchange scheme, has also been announced.
The government has already supported and relocated over 1,000 Afghan interpreters and their families, so they can rebuild their lives in the UK. However, in recognition of their support for the UK’s armed forces, the Home Office is bringing forward changes to enable eligible partners and children of interpreters still in Afghanistan to relocate to the UK at a later date.
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