Changes affecting visitors transiting the UK and those on Tiers 1 & 2 skilled work visas are due to take effect between 28 December 2017 and 11 January 2018.  UKVI also plans to modernise their current immigration systems by introducing “digital immigration permissions”.  

Transiting to the UK will become easier for standard and marriage/civil partnership visitors as they will soon be able to visit the UK using the same visa. Historically visitors in these categories have had to apply for these two different types of visas separately depending on the purpose for which they are coming to the UK, so this will be a welcome change that will save visitors both time and money.

In addition, internationally recognised leaders in science, research, digital technology and the arts will soon notice changes to “enhance the UK’s offer”. Changes to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa rules will see the number of spaces doubling to 2,000 per year and the qualifying period to apply for settlement in the UK dropping from five years to three years. 

Tier 4 students below PhD level will also find it easier to switch to a Tier 2 visa following a proposal by the Home Office to “relax” the current resident labour market test under the Tier 2 category. The announcement advised that the change will also provide UK employers with easier access to members of established research teams and international researchers.