In a written ministerial statement, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes has announced a number of changes to the UK Immigration Rules, particularly in relation to the categories covering highly skilled workers.

These include confirmation that the Government will introduce a Start-up visa route, which it announced earlier this year. This will build on the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and will require applicants to be endorsed by either a business or a higher education institution.

The Government will also introduce an Innovator route which will replace the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. Interestingly, the route which became Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) was called the Innovator category - possibly another example of the Government turning back time on immigration policy. The route will be open to experienced business people and will also require endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess the applicant's business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.

In relation to these routes, it will be fascinating to see which "businesses" will be permitted to act as sponsors and what criteria they will apply when considering whether to endorse applicants. It is hoped that the Home Office will consult on these routes before they are due to be implemented in the Spring.

Furthermore, the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category will be expanded to cover leading architects endorsed by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Before the route was amended previously, it had been possible for architects to apply under this category so, again, this looks like a case of going back to the future.

Nokes also stated that, among other amendments to the Immigration Rules, there would be a number of technical changes made to Tier 1 and Tier 2 skilled worker routes.

All these changes are on top of the previous announcement of the suspension and future reform of the Tier 1 (Investor) route. Although we were expecting the new Immigration Rules to be published yesterday, they have yet to appear and may even now be delayed until next week.