2018 kicks off with positive news for those seeking to come to the UK under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, with the number of places available in this category being doubled to 2,000. There's good news too for Tier 4 students seeking to remain in the UK as they will be able to switch to Tier 2 work visas as soon as they have completed their courses, rather than having to wait until they have received their final results.
However, partners of Points Based System migrants will face tougher residency restrictions when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (or ‘settlement’). They will not be allowed absences from the UK of more than 180 days per year (although absences before 11 January 2018 will not count). This could pose particular problems for dependants of Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Tier 1 Investors who have benefited from previous more relaxed travel restrictions.
In response to sector feedback, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Rules relating to point scoring ‘Attributes’ are also being rewritten to make them clearer and easier to follow. Most of the changes are due to come into force on 11 January 2018 and further information can be found here.
Designated Competent Bodies, including Arts Council England and Tech City UK, can apply for the additional places when their existing allocation has been exhausted. Applicants endorsed as ‘world leaders’ in this Tier 1 category can also apply for accelerated settlement after only 3 years’ continuous UK residence. In a more controversial change, the requirement to have had absences from the UK of no more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain, which currently applies to main applicants, is now being extended to partners of Points-Based System Tier 1 and Tier 2 Migrants.