A new set of rules has been introduced for those who wish to come to the UK as visitors which affects all applications submitted on or after 24 April 2015. These changes were brought about by the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 1025. The new rules are set out in a new Appendix V and are accompanied by new sets of guidance.
The stated objective of the new rules is to consolidate and clarify the rules for visitors by streamlining 15 visitor routes down to four, and create a single set of rules for visitors. The four remaining visitor routes are:
- the visitor (standard);
- visitor for marriage or civil partnership;
- visitor for permitted paid engagements; and
- transit visitor.
Although the number of visitor routes has been reduced, most visitors' ability to come to the UK will not be affected by the changes, which are primarily a matter of consolidation. Under the new rules and guidance, applicants entering under the visitor (standard) category will now have more flexibility and will be permitted to undertake all activities that general or business visitors formerly could.
However, one category of visitor that seems to have quietly disappeared from the rules is the 'secondee', which used to be covered by paragraph 46G(iii)(f) of the old rules relating to business visitors. Under this rule, a business visit visa could be issued to "a secondee to a UK company which is directly contracted with the visitor's overseas company, with which it has no corporate relationship, to provide goods or services, provided the secondee remains employed and paid by the overseas company throughout the secondee's visit". As there was no statement of any intention to abolish this category, it is unclear whether the removal of secondees was intentional or if it was an accidental omission when the Rules were consolidated into Appendix V.
Another change worth mentioning is that the general grounds of refusal contained in Part 9 of the Rules no longer apply to visitors. However, almost identical refusal grounds for visitors have now been incorporated into Appendix V.
Family visit appeals were abolished in 2013, so had already gone before the cull of appeal rights in the Immigration Act 2014. However, it should be noted that in the recent case of Mostafa  UKUT 00112 (IAC), the President of the Upper Tribunal indicated that as family visit applications would invariably engage the right to family life under Article 8 ECHR, then a human rights appeal could be brought against a refusal, and ability to satisfy the rules would be a weighty, albeit not determinative, factor in deciding whether the refusal was proportionate to the legitimate aim of immigration control. In other words, in most family visit cases, a human rights appeal would effectively operate in a very similar way to the old family visit appeal.
Our general immigration team will be pleased to assist with visitor visas to the UK under the new rules.