The International Rugby Board has confirmed plans to increase the number of core teams competing on the world sevens circuit next season from 12 to 15 teams.
This year's Hong Kong Sevens at the end of March will double as the qualification tournament, with three teams advancing from a dedicated 12-team regional qualifier finale, to join the current core teams, which include Fiji and Samoa.
The qualifying showpiece will run alongside another 12-team competition, also in the Hong Kong Stadium, contested by the current core teams.
From next season, promotion and relegation from core team status will come into effect with a 16th invitational team selected by the IRB for each event outside of Hong Kong.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset says as rugby continues to build towards the Rio Olympics in 2016 it's important that opportunities exist for all nations to progress to Series core team status if they are good enough.