New rules for changing times

To guard against the possibility that UK immigration requirements might remain the same for longer than one second, the Home Office laid further changes to the immigration rules before parliament on 11 December 2018. Immigration rules enter into force by negative resolution, which means proposed rules come into force without much, or any, debate or pro-active approval by Parliament. The proposed rules are wide-ranging. Most will come into effect on 10 January 2019.

Low-skilled agricultural worker scheme
The pilot scheme for low-skilled agricultural workers is set out. According to the proposed rules and other materials previously published about the scheme, it will provide for 2,500 places per year for two years, in the edible horticulture industry. The scheme is the only proposal for low-skilled workers that has been proposed by the government or its advisors, regardless of the possibility of no deal and the resultant end to free movement as soon as 29 March 2019.

Exceptional talent
Several changes to the Exceptional Talent route are proposed, including opening a new visa for architects. Exceptional Talent visas and the visa subcategory Exceptional Promise allow migrants who are leaders in their field to live and work in the UK with no investment requirements and few conditions. The route leads to settlement in the UK.

As with other Exceptional Talent visas, architect applicants must have an international presence, recent and regular engagement in their profession, and a substantial or developing multinational track record. Applicants must demonstrate that they meet criteria including international recognition, awards and the publication or exhibition of their work. The Royal Institute of British Architects will assess whether applicants are worthy of their endorsement, which is required for the visa application assessed by the Home Office.

Exceptional Talent applicants will be granted an additional 4 months of visa duration when applying from overseas. This will help applicants accumulate the time required in the UK for settlement without having to make extension applications.

Changes indicate that a leading design role within a fashion business is required for the Exceptional Talent fashion designer scheme which was introduced earlier this year.

Sponsoring migrant workers
A new code of practice is being introduced to allow certain fashion models to qualify for sponsorship to work in the UK without a sponsor having to advertise the role. Depending on the experience of the model and on the sponsor’s objectives, evidence of international status, previous engagements or of meeting eligibility criteria for the modelling industry set by the British Fashion Council, will be required.

Some changes are made to the Tier 5 routes for religious and charity workers, including a requirement to wait 12 months between periods of holding those visas.

Expected changes to the Tier 1 Investor scheme have not materialised. Caroline Nokes, the Minister of State for Immigration, also indicated in a written statement to Parliament on 6 December 2018 that we could expect new rules on a start-up visa and on an ‘innovator visa’ to replace the current Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. None of these changes are reflected in the statement of changes in immigration rules published on 11 December 2018.

The Home Office nevertheless is changing with the times, as reflected by the introduction of gender-neutral language into maintenance funds rules. Then again, it is only with this statement of changes in the immigration rules that references to the ‘UK Border Agency’ are being replaced with the ‘Home Office’. The UK Border Agency ceased to exist in 2013. And we all thought we had problems then . . . .