On 6 September, changes to the UK Immigration Rules were laid before parliament. Due to the number and broad spectrum of amendments introduced, this article focuses on those changes most relevant to business immigration. Except where noted, the majority of the new rules will take effect on 1 October.

Tier 1

Amendments have been made to Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) to include the Arts Council’s criteria for endorsing applications with exceptional promise. Previously, only those applicants with demonstrable exceptional talent and experience could qualify.

Additionally, a clarification has been made for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category to confirm that applicants may not rely on the same funds for both investment and maintenance.

Tier 2

Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) migrants seeking to extend their leave beyond three years will be exempt from the English language requirement.

Furthermore, Tier 2 (General) migrants earning £152,100 or more annually will be exempt from the prohibition on migrants in this category owning more than 10% of the shares of the sponsoring business.

Tier 5

Under the Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) sub-category, Tier 4 (General) migrants who have completed their degrees will be able to participate in 12-month, UK-based internships that are directly related to their studies. Switching into Tier 2, however, will not be permitted.

Hong Kong has been added to the list of participating countries on the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme).  This change will take effect from 1 January 2014.

Cross-cutting ‘genuineness’ tests

Tier 1 (General) will be subject to a ‘genuine earnings’ test. Under this test, applicants for leave to remain must demonstrate that their earnings stem from genuine employment.

Additionally, Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) will be subject to ‘genuineness’ tests for both leave to enter and leave to remain. Under these tests, the entry clearance officers or secretary of state may request additional information and applicants may be required to attend an interview in order to determine whether they genuinely intend to undertake the role for which they are being sponsored.

Tier 4 (General) migrants applying for leave to remain will be subject to a ‘genuineness’ test. Previously, only those individuals seeking leave to enter were subject to this test. Accordingly, applicants must demonstrate sufficient English language skills, and that they are genuinely in the UK to study.

Visitors and business visitors

Visitors and business visitors will be permitted to undertake recreational, English language, or academic study for up to 30 days on the condition that it is not the primary purpose of their visit. However, non-recreational study will only be allowed to take place at institutions holding a Tier 4 sponsor licence or the appropriate government accreditation.

Business visitors will be permitted to engage in internal audits, and receive business training from entities that are unrelated to the individual’s employer’s corporate group, and whose primary undertakings are not training.

Laura Devine is principal of Laura Devine Solicitors and Laura Devine Attorneys LLC