Jun 25 2018

Tier 1, 2, and 4 and Indefinite Leave to Remain Changes

United Kingdom

The situation

Numerous changes to the Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Indefinite Leave to Remain categories will take effect on July 6, 2018.

Tier 2 main changes

  • More shareholders excluded from Tier 2 status. Currently, foreign nationals are excluded from Tier 2 status if they own over 10% of shares in the UK sponsor company. Under the new rules, foreign nationals will also be excluded if they own over 10% of shares in a parent company of the UK sponsor.
    • Impact. Significant shareholders will move toward the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer or Tier 1 Investor categories.


Tier 1 main changes

  • More applicants eligible for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) status. Eligibility for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category will be widened to include the fashion industry, more film and television awards, and film and television nominations and awards over a longer period of time.
  • Since Croatian nationals will be work permit exempt effective July 1, 2018, these nationals will no longer count towards the quota for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category, effectively freeing up the quota for other nationalities.
    • Impact. More foreign nationals will be eligible under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category.
  • More scrutiny on Tier 1 (Investor) funds. Financial institutions signing off on the investment portfolio will be required to confirm that funds were indeed invested in qualifying investments, and that no loan was secured against the invested funds.
    • Impact. Investors will be subject to more forensic scrutiny.


Tier 4 main changes

  • Soft copy degrees accepted. Under the new rules, authorities will accept print-outs of an applicant’s degree certificate, provided that these are issued by the online checking service of the institution that issued the degree. Currently, authorities only accept an original hard copy degree certificate.
    • Impact. Applicants without a hard copy degree certificate can more quickly apply for Tier 4 status since they will not have to reobtain a hard copy.  
  • More students can sponsor dependants. The minimum duration of postgraduate courses required to qualify to bring dependants to the United Kingdom will be reduced from 12 to nine months.
    • Impact. More postgraduate students will be able to bring their eligible family to the United Kingdom.
  • More nationalities qualify for streamlined processing. The list of countries has been updated. The following nationalities will have to submit less documents for Tier 4 applications under the new rules: Bahrain; Cambodia; The Dominican Republic; Indonesia; Kuwait; The Maldives; Mexico; and China. Oman has been removed from the list, meaning nationals from Oman will have to submit more documents. The updated rules also offer more clarity on dual nationality holders.
    • Impact. Nationals from these countries will benefit from a simpler application process.


Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) changes

  • Obligation to confirm ILR status after lengthy absence. Where an individual holding ILR has been outside the United Kingdom for two years or more, they will have to apply for entry clearance and demonstrate strong ties to the United Kingdom to confirm their ILR status. Previously, an entry clearance application was advisable rather than mandatory.
    • Impact.  ILR permit holders who leave the United Kingdom for extended periods may face a stricter and more time-consuming re-entry path.
  • Special long-term residence permit for Turkish nationals. Following recent case law that Turkish business persons, workers and their family did not qualify for ILR, the new legislation will introduce a special long-term residence permit status for these applicants. Turkish nationals will qualify for this permit after five years of lawful residence in the United Kingdom and must be able to demonstrate civic integration (evidence of English language skills and knowledge of life in the United Kingdom).
    • Impact. Turkish nationals in these categories will benefit from a new long-term residence status option.  


Looking ahead

The above listed changes will take effect on July 6, 2018. Fragomen expects UK sponsors to receive immediate relief in terms of greater availability of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship. The quota may still be exceeded due to a large backlog that has grown since December 2017, however the minimum salary required to be successful in application should reduce.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].