The Home Office has issued a new statement to the immigration rules in the middle of a pandemic, clarifying their position of “business as usual”.
EU settlement scheme
There is some good news for family members of EU nationals coming from Northern Ireland who are now permitted to use the settlement scheme. Another positive aspect of changes are for those who are victims of domestic violence, the current EU rules only permit ex-spouses to benefit from submitting an application, however from August 2020 any family members who fall under this category can submit an application (this includes, durable partners, children, dependent parents and dependent relatives), and those whose family relationship with a relevant EEA citizen broke down as a result of domestic abuse against them or another family member, will be able to retain rights of residence.
Appendix FM – family members
Under the current rules if an applicant has been sentenced to 12 months or more, they could be refused entry clearance or leave to remain under the general grounds of refusal. The new rules confirm that those applicants may only be refused for 10 years after end of the sentence.
When relying on self-employment to meet the financial requirements, applicants must submit accounts signed by accountants from specified accounting organisations. The rules relating to which organisations were acceptable were stricter under Appendix FM-SE compared to the rules for economic migrants. They have now been expanded to be consistent.
The rules relating to fiancé(e) visas confirm that the purpose of the route is to allow couples to get married in the UK , which has been very clear from previous rules.
Sole representative of an overseas company
The rules are unfortunately tightened for those who wish to enter the UK as a representative of an overseas company. This route has been used frequently in place of Tier 1 Entrepreneur in the last 12 months. The new rules emphasise that the overseas sponsor must have its principle place of business and headquarters outside of the UK. Further, the applicant must be a senior employee and must not engage in their own business of any other business whilst in the UK. The rules further introduce the genuineness test, the sole representative must show that he genuinely meets the requirement of the rules. This brings back memories of primary purpose rules, of course in any application you must meet the requirement of the rules but this gives a visa officer an opportunity to refuse an application simply by saying that they do not meet the requirement of the rules simply by failing to show that they are genuine.
There is also new wording that the business’s branch or subsidiary should not be “established solely for the purpose of facilitating the entry and stay of the applicant” and the applicant should have the relevant skills, qualification and experience for the business.
The rules previously stated that the applicant must not be a majority shareholder of the business, this is now changed they now say the sole representative should not “have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, that overseas business, whether that ownership control is by means of shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement”. It is no longer possible for the partner of someone with a majority stake in the overseas business to rely on the Rules, and have the owner of the business come in as their dependent these rules will come into force on 4 June 2020. Any application submitted before this date will be considered under current rules.
Start-up, innovator and global talent applicants
Student visa holders who were sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months before the date of application must have the unconditional written consent of that sponsoring government or international scholarship agency to make the application. This is whether they submit their application from within or outside of the UK.
In relation to start-ups and innovators, a new provision has been added which gives the decision makers power to write to the applicants or endorsement bodies and ask for further information. If there are concerns that the endorsement has been issued incorrectly they can refuse the application.
The higher educational providers now can act as endorsement bodies for innovators as well in the past they did only for start-ups.