UK Immigration Summary from 2023

UK Immigration - Summary of 2023

Change is the norm in UK immigration law, and 2023 has been no exception.  Before we head into the new year, let's summarise what's happened during 2023.

Illegal Migration Act 2023

The Illegal Migration Act 2023, which became law on 20 July 2023 ‘prevents and deters unlawful migration and in particular migration by unsafe and illegal routes, by requiring the removal from the United Kingdom of certain persons who enter or arrive in the United Kingdom in breach of immigration control’. For instance, the removal of people if they have travelled through a safe third country enroute to the UK, and if they require leave to enter or remain, but do not have it.

The immigration system statistics

The Home Office published the immigration system statistics for the year ending June 2023, which included quarterly and annual data on various aspects of immigration, such as those coming to the UK, extending their stay, gaining citizenship, applying for asylum, and being detained or removed. The data also covered immigration for work, study, and family reasons, including new visa routes.

Statement of Changes to the immigration rules

In July 2023 the Home Office published two statements of changes to the immigration rules these included:

  • Addition of various nationalities to the visa national list.
  • Removal of the right of most international students to bring dependants to the UK.
  • Removal of international students’ ability to switch into work routes before completing their studies.
  • Certain construction and fishing jobs added to the Shortage Occupation List.
  • Automatic extension of pre-settled status for 2 years.
  • Closure of EUSS ‘Surinder Singh’ route for family members and ‘Zambrano’ route for carers.
  • New visa fees came into effect.

Increase to fines for illegally employing migrant workers

The government increased the civil penalty for employers who illegally employ Migrant workers. The first breach increased from £15,000, up to £45,000 per illegal worker and for any repeat breaches the penalty was increased from £20,000 up to £60,000.

Increase to visa application fees

The Home Office increased the application fees across a range of immigration and nationality routes, including those individuals coming here to live, work and study. These included:

  • Fees for visit and work visa application fees to rise by 15%. For example, for those applying for a typical Skilled Worker application for up to three years for instance, the fee has increased from £625 to £719.
  • Fees for student visas, certificates of sponsorship, settlement, citizenship, and all other visa applications increased by at least 20%.
  • The cost of priority services will be made the same whether applicants apply inside or outside the UK.
  • The fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship has increased from £199 to £239.

What to expect in 2024

2023 has been another year of major changes within the UK immigration system, and we are prepared for even more changes scheduled for 2024.

At present, the Immigration Health Surcharge standard fee for applicants over the age of 18 is £624 per year. This figure will increase to £1,035 after 16 January 2024.

As this article was being written, there were some major announcements from the Home Secretary as he announced his five-point plan in an attempt to curb net migration - we are busy pouring over all of this in fine detail and will be issuing an article to advise UK businesses, graduates and overseas workers what this will mean for you in the coming days.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding immigration or how these changes might affect your business or overseas employees, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.


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