What is the change? The Home Office has published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules across most categories in the points-based system and announced plans to implement a new seasonal worker scheme pilot. The Home Office has also announced its intention to further reform the Tier 1 categories for non-employer-sponsored, high-skilled business migration to the U.K. in the spring.

Key changes: The following changes to the Immigration Rules are due to take effect Jan. 1:

  • The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route has been expanded to include architects endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects, and digital technology applicants applying via the Tech Nation online application form are no longer required to supply paper copies of their specified evidence to the Home Office.
  • The new pilot scheme for non-EEA migrant workers coming to the U.K. to undertake low-skilled seasonal agricultural work has been set up; key employers identified by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs will be invited to participate.
  • A number of minor, more technical changes have been made to Tier 2 routes for skilled workers and under Tier 4 for students and Tier 5.

While full details are not yet available, the Home Office has also announced that the following changes can be expected shortly and to take effect by spring:

  • A new Tier 1 (Innovator) route for more experienced business people will replace the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). Applicants will require endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.

Analysis & Comments: The current changes for Tier 2 skilled workers requiring work permits and other points-based categories are mostly technical and minor. However, planned reforms to the Tier 1 categories are part of the Home Office’s significant reconsideration of all non-employer-sponsored, high-skilled migration routes, and build on the introduction of a new Tier 1 (start-up) visa route announced in June. In addition, the implementation of the seasonal worker scheme pilot for selected agricultural employers is a significant step toward testing the effectiveness of proposed U.K. immigration reforms at alleviating seasonal labor shortages.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.