The Government has announced changes to the Immigration Rules, which came into force on 6th July 2018. Here is an overview of the key changes.

Tier 1:

Exceptional talent:

  • Endorsement of arts applicants will include those who are operating leading designer fashion businesses. Applicants will be assessed by the British Fashion Council within the endorsement remit of Arts Council England. Previously this visa had been granted to those working in the more "typical" arts such as dance, music, theatre and visual arts.
  • Additional awards have been added to the list of eligible awards for applicants in film and television, meaning a wider pool of applicants will be able to apply from 6th July 2018.
  • Endorsements for Croatian nationals no longer count against the number of allocated endorsements available to each Designated Competent Body. This is due to the lifting of transitional controls on the right of Croatian nationals to work in the UK.


  • Investments will now be subject to a higher level of scrutiny. At present, applicants must submit portfolio reports that have been signed off by a financial institution regulated by the FCA as evidence of their required investment. Now these institutions must also confirm that no loan has been secured against those funds and that the funds have only been invested in qualifying investments.
  • Further, although applicants may withdraw interest and dividend payments generated by their qualifying investments from their portfolios, they may not do so if these were generated before the portfolio was purchased.

Tier 2:

  • Doctors and nurses will be exempt from the Tier 2 (General) limit. Applications for nurses and doctors not on the Shortage Occupation List will require a Resident Labour Market Test. However, visas will instead be allocated from the employer's unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocation. This will mean that doctors and nurses will no longer count towards the monthly allocation of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) which is capped by the Government. At present, an estimated 40% of RCoS requests are made by NHS workers. Consequently, this change should free up a significant number of RCoS for other types of applicant and may lower the salary required to obtain an RCoS.
  • Applications for RCoS for Croatian nationals will no longer count towards the Tier 2 limit.
  • The restriction on Tier 2 migrants holding more than 10% of shares in their Sponsor company is being expanded to include indirect ownership of shares, such as via another corporate entity.
  • Tier 2 migrants applying for settlement after 6th July 2018 who have been absent from work on family-related leave (such as maternity or adoption leave) will be required to submit evidence of the birth (or adoption).

Tier 4:

  • An amendment is being made to the Tier 4 (General) conditions of leave to allow students to study on a study abroad programme, regardless of when the programme is added to their course.
  • The minimum length that a postgraduate course needs to be in order for a Tier 4 Migrant to be eligible to bring dependants with them to the UK is being reduced from 12 months to 9 months.
  • The Home Office has also reduced the documentary requirements for students from specific countries such as Indonesia, Serbia and Thailand.

"Start-Up Visa"

  • The Government has recently announced a new visa route, which is thought to replace the existing graduate entrepreneur scheme. The new "start-up" visa route will allow applications from owners of start-up businesses as opposed to just graduates. Applicants will be required to have an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor. The move is part of the Government's drive to enhance the UK's reputation as a leading hub for entrepreneurs, particularly in areas of technological expertise. Further details on this scheme will be realised by the Government in due course, but it will not be available to applicants until spring 2019.

How we can help

Through our strategic partnership with Ward Hadaway law firm, Ward Hadaway have a team of immigration experts who can provide advice and guidance on the visa and sponsorship application process and can discuss in more detail what these changes mean for you and/or your business.

For further information, please contact us and we will ensure we put you in contact with a specialist from Ward Hadaway immediately. Call 0333 006 2929 or email

Flora Mewies

This article has been drafted on esphr’s behalf by Ward Hadaway Law Firm. Ward Hadaway Law Firm are one of esphr’s strategic legal advisory partners and provide certain services to our customers through a range of different Legal and HR support services offered by ourselves to the Corporate market. The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and it should not be relied upon. Specific legal advice may be required to address your specific circumstance.


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