Statement of Changes to UK Immigration Rules Announced

June 20, 2018

The announcement on 15 June includes changes affecting nurses and doctors, exceptional-talent applicants, and Turkish and Croatian nationals. A new visa category has also been announced for entrepreneurs.

Tier 2 (General)

This category allows UK companies to sponsor non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals to work in skilled roles in the United Kingdom. Where the salary on offer in the United Kingdom is less than £159,600 (currently equivalent to $210,334), the UK company must apply to the Home Office for a restricted certificate of sponsorship (rCoS) to assign to an individual.

There is an annual quota of 20,700 rCoS’ which is subdivided into monthly allocations. The monthly allocation has been exceeded every month since December 2017 and applications submitted have been refused where applicants were to be paid less than £55,000 (currently equivalent to $$72,500) unless they were Ph.D.-level jobs, a role listed on the recognised Shortage Occupation List, or were prioritised for other reasons.

As of 6 July 2018, doctors and nurses will be excluded from the annual quota of rCoS’. As NHS workers currently make up approximately 40% of all rCoS requests, this should hopefully free up hundreds of additional rCoS’ for other highly skilled occupations and could lead to a drop in the salary level required to secure an rCoS.

Employers will no longer be required to apply for an rCoS in order to sponsor a nurse or doctor under Tier 2 (General), but they will continue to be required to demonstrate that they have met the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

This category is for talented individuals in the fields of the arts, science, humanities, engineering, and digital technology to work in the United Kingdom without sponsorship from a UK company. Applicants must be endorsed by a Designated Competent Body (DCB), e.g., the Arts Council, which has a limited number of endorsements to issue per year. The main changes are set out below:

  • The endorsement of arts applicants is being widened to include those in the fashion industry who are operating leading designer fashion businesses. These applicants will be assessed by the Arts Council.
  • Endorsements for Croatian nationals will no longer count against the number of allocated endorsements available to each DCB.
  • The list of eligible awards for applicants within the film, television, animation, postproduction, and visual effects industry will be updated to include additional awards.

These changes will take effect on 6 July 2018.

Turkish Workers

A new settlement category will be introduced for Turkish businesspeople, workers, and their families who are in the United Kingdom under the EU–Turkey European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA). Turkish workers and businesspeople will be able to settle in the United Kingdom after five years as either an ECAA businessperson or ECAA worker (or equivalent Points Based System routes), as long as the most recent period of leave was under the ECAA.

Croatian Nationals

Transitional controls on the work rights of Croatian nationals will be lifted on 30 June 2018, the fifth anniversary of Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Croatian nationals will no longer need to apply for work authorisation in order to undertake employment in the United Kingdom.

New Startup Visa Route Announced

The Home Office have announced that a new startup visa will be launched in Spring 2019 to replace the existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

The new visa aims to widen the applicant pool of talented entrepreneurs and make the visa process faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the United Kingdom. It will require applicants to have acquired an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor, including accelerators, seed funding organisations, and angel investors.

The route will act as a stepping stone from which applicants can progress into the main Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.

We will publish further details once these are announced.


If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:

Jennifer Connolly
Yvette Allen