December 08, 2017

What Are the New Changes to the U.K. Immigration Rules? (December 2017)

The U.K. Government made a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules on 7 December 2017 and the Home Office issued an Explanatory Note shortly afterward. The changes are due to take effect at different times over a staggered time period from 28 December onward.

Some of the main changes relevant to workers are summarised below.

Changes to Tier 1

Exceptional Talent

  • The number of available places in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category will rise from 1,000 to 2,000 per year.
    • The additional 1,000 places to be made available will not be distributed between the five Designated Competent Bodies (DCBs) at the start of each year but, rather, they will be set aside as a pool of unallocated places that can be accessed on a first-come first-served basis by any DCB that has exhausted its allocation.
  • Accelerated settlement will be allowed for certain applicants.
    • Those endorsed by a DCB as “exceptional talent” will now qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years of conditional residence.
    • Those endorsed by a DCB as “exceptional promise” will continue to qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of conditional residence.


  • The requirements will remain mostly unchanged but there will be a consolidation and clarification of the rules for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants which may affect individual applications.

Changes to Tier 2 General

  • Currently Tier 4 non-PhD students cannot apply to change status to Tier 2 General in the United Kingdom until after they have received their final results. This will be amended to permit such a switch upon course completion. 
  • There will be new exemptions from the requirements for a Resident Labour Market Test where either the applicant is a researcher who is the recipient of a supernumerary research award or fellowship, or established research team members are sponsored by either a Higher Education Institution or Research Council.
  • The Sponsor Guidance is due to be amended to restrict, after leave has been granted, how far a migrant’s start date can be pushed back before it will become a prohibited change.

Indefinite Leave to Remain for Workers

From 11 January 2018, the requirement of absences from the U.K. of not more than 180 days per year to qualify for settlement will be extended to include partners as well as main applicants unless waiverable (e.g., due to absences when assisting with the Ebola crisis in West Africa which has now been widened to include with assisting with any national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis).


Electronic Entry Clearance Issuance

  • Currently entry clearance (a visa) must be endorsed in a valid passport or other suitable identity document. The amendment of the rules will allow entry clearance to be issued in both e-format and by endorsement. An individual with electronic entry clearance will, upon seeking entry into the United Kingdom, have this checked electronically rather than by presentation to an Immigration Officer.

Other Changes

There are also other minor changes in the following categories:

  • Students
  • Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)
  • Sports people
  • Domestic workers

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