A statement of changes was published on 11 December 2018, the main changes are stated below.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
The endorsement of applicants has been widened to include those in the field of architecture. These applicants will be assessed by the Royal Institute for British Architects operating within the endorsement remit of Arts Council England.
In addition, the grants of entry clearance will include an additional four months so that, for example, an applicant requesting 1 year entry clearance will be granted 1 year and 4 months’ entry clearance.
Tier 4 Visas
Those Tier 4 applicants, who rely on student loans or funds from official financial sponsors are no longer required to show that the funds have been held for a period of 28 consecutive days.
Tier 5 and Tier 2 Visas
Tier 5 (Religious Workers) visa holders will not be able to work as Ministers of Religion. To take such position, applicants will need to apply under relevant Tier 2 category. Introduction of “cooling-off” period for Tier 5 (Religious workers and Charity Workers) applicants, which will ensure that they spend at least 12 month outside the UK after the expiry of their initial visa before applying for a new visa under this category. This change will prevent applicants from living in the UK for extended periods.
Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders can now take part in legal strikes actions and take unpaid parental leave. This will not affect their immigration status and the possibility of obtaining settled status.
Changes in immigration rules for victims of domestic violence
According to the new rules, partners of refugees who have not lived in the country for 5 years and have not yet received settled status can now qualify for ILR as victims of domestic violence.
Home Office also announced the launch of new pilot scheme for seasonal workers under Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) category. The exact launch date of the pilot will be announced shortly. This category will allow non-EU migrants to obtain seasonal workers visas for up to six months and work in the “edible horticulture sector”. Visas will be issued 14 days before the start of the peak season and will be valid for an additional 14 days after the end of the season, but not longer than 6 months in any 12- months period. They will not be allowed to carry on any other work than the work they are being sponsored for. It also seems that they will not be allowed to be accompanied by their family members to the UK.