On 10 September 2021, the Home Office laid down the Explanatory Memorandum regarding changes in the Immigration Rules before Parliament by Command of Her Majesty.
The instrument amends several Immigration Rules that are used for regulating the entry into, and stay of, persons in the UK.
These changes will be implemented from 1 October 2021.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concessions
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
The COVID-19 concession for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) enabled migrants, whose businesses were impacted by the pandemic, to extend their leave, provided they had created the equivalent of two full-time jobs for settled workers at the time of application. They did not have to demonstrate that the jobs had existed for a minimum period of 12 months. However, this second requirement must be met before the applicant can qualify for settlement.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
From 6 October 2021, the concession (outside Appendix EU) which is currently in operation for applicants whose continuous residence in the UK has been affected by COVID-19 will cease to operate. Applicants will no longer be able to rely on the concession where they have exceeded the permitted absence from the UK due to the COVID-19.
Skilled Worker route and Tier 2 Sportsperson route
Between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2020, concessions were put in place for those applying for a Skilled Worker visa. It enabled applicants to start working for their sponsor while waiting for a decision on their application. A change is being made to the settlement rules which will allow applicants to include the time they were waiting for a decision towards the five years required for settlement as a Skilled Worker or as a Tier 2 Sportsperson.
Changes relating to the evidence of identity and nationality requirements
Certain EEA citizens (‘the citizens’ rights cohort’) can continue to use their EEA national identity card to enter the UK until at least the end of 2025.
From 1 October 2021, EEA citizens outside the citizens’ rights cohort will need a passport to demonstrate nationality and identity at the UK border, rather than a national identity card.
Changes to provide further support to Afghan Locally Employed Staff (LES)
Under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy and the ex gratia scheme, those current and former Afghan LES and their family members who are outside Afghanistan can relocate to the UK. The schemes were previously only open to those in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, LES who are approved for relocation will be granted indefinite leave to enter the UK. This will replace the five years limited leave they are currently granted. Those already in the UK will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain before their limited leave expires.
Rules that state that minor dependants must be under 18 on 19 December 2012 is being replaced with the requirement that they must be under 18 at the time of application.
Changes to the Immigration Rules
Launch of the new International Sportsperson route (and consequential changes), and the rebranding of the Tier 5 routes
The new International Sportsperson route will continue to offer a dedicated option for anyone wishing to come for 12 months or less but will bring together the T2 and T5 offers into one dedicated category. It is hoped that the new route will be more straightforward for professional sportspeople and their sponsors to access. The route is points-based and there is a requirement to demonstrate English language ability for those who apply for a stay that exceeds 12 months.
The Tier 5 Temporary Worker routes are being rebranded with the launch of new application forms, making the rules governing these routes easier to find and deliver better service for customers. The separation of the old T5 Creative and Sporting Worker route will deliver a Temporary Work – Creative Worker visa which recognises the unique requirements of the sector.
Moreover, amendments are being made to provide a right of administrative review for eligible decisions under these two routes.
Changes to the Immigration Rules resulted in new criteria and evidential requirements required for the Global Talent route in order to improve clarity.
Changes are being made to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements.
The arts and culture endorsement criteria are being amended to:
- clarify letters of recommendation required by the endorsing body must specifically be from well-established ‘arts and culture’ organisations.
- make it easier for applicants who are members of groups, such as internationally recognised orchestras or dance troupes, to qualify.
The evidential requirements for digital technology endorsements are being amended to:
- include being a board member of a product-led digital technology companies as a role that can be used to evidence an exceptional talent in this field.
- reduce the number of examples required for each of the exceptional promise criteria from at least two to at least one
The endorsement criteria for science, engineering, humanities and medicine fields are being amended to:
- extend the eligibility period for the fellowship fast track pathway following the completion of an approved fellowship or award from 12 months to five years
- expand the requirement to have academic representatives on interview panels to cover research and innovation representatives because not all roles will be in an academic setting.
The endorsed funder fast track pathway is being amended to:
- reduce the length of time remaining on an employment contract or hosting agreement from two years to one year to allow greater flexibility for individuals working on qualifying research
- amend the evidential requirement so that applicants who have an award listed on a publicly accessible research database accepted by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will no longer be required to provide a letter from the endorsed funder confirming their suitability for the award.
- clarify that applicants must confirm through either the letter from the endorsed funder or the link to the approved database that the award is either funded by a one-off grant or award that has been won in open competition or attributed to a large institutional, renewable award that is subject to periodic peer review. A list of acceptable research databases will be published on GOV.UK.
Changes to the Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes route to expand the list of qualifying prizes and to provide greater clarity
The list of prizes in Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes has been expanded to cover a wider range of prizes.
The prizes listed demonstrate irrefutable evidence of prize holders being at the pinnacle of their profession. Prizes included must also be open to all nationalities and winners must be determined by experts or peers, rather than a public vote. The list will be kept under review and may be revised in future updates to the Rules.
Changes to the Immigration Rules: EUSS regarding joining family members and to improve clarity
The main changes in respect of the EUSS and the EUSS family permit are as follows:
- to allow a joining family member to apply to the EUSS whilst in the UK as a visitor. From 6 October 2021, the temporary concession to this effect outside Appendix EU where certain joining family members are concerned, as currently set out in the EUSS caseworker guidance, will no longer operate.
- technical changes to reflect the fact that, as the Home Office has already confirmed to relevant stakeholders, a person who is exempt from immigration control can, if they wish, apply to the EUSS whilst they remain exempt, or they can apply once they have ceased to be exempt.
Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme
The main changes to the Immigration Rules are as follows:
- re-branding the route from T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme to Youth Mobility Scheme.
- Iceland is being added to the Youth Mobility scheme country list as a country without Deemed Sponsorship Status with an allocation of 1,000 places. India is being added to the list of countries where invitation to apply arrangements apply.
- updating to allow citizens and nationals or the rightful holder of a passport issued by a territory without Deemed Sponsorship Status to apply for this route from any post that accepts such applications worldwide.
Changes to the Immigration Rules for the visitor category included activities students can undertake in the UK and when employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers can come to the UK as visitors
A new concession is being added to the visitor rules which will allow students to come to the UK to undertake activities relating to a course they are undertaking at a UK institution from overseas via distance learning.
The changes will also allow students studying nursing overseas at the equivalent of degree level to come to the UK as a visitor to undertake electives with a UK higher education provider, provided these are unpaid and involve no treatment of patients. This will bring nursing students in line with medical, veterinary medicine and science, and dentistry students, who can already undertake these activities on the visitor route.
The changes will also make clear that research students who have been accepted by a UK higher education provider to undertake research or research tuition as part of a course of study they are undertaking overseas can do so at a UK research institute, provided a formal partnership exists between the higher education provider and the research institute. This will bring the provisions for visitors undertaking research in line with the provisions of the student routes and provide greater clarity for applicants.
The changes will provide further clarity on when employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers can come to the UK as visitors, in order to install, maintain, service or advise on equipment, software or hardware.
Changes to the Settlement Protection Rules to provide greater clarity
The settlement protection Rules have been updated. It is hoped that the new simplified structure will not only provide greater clarity to applicants but will also help the decision-makers.
Changes to the eligibility requirements for the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route
The concession which allows the partner and, if applicable, child under 18 of a BN(O) status holder to join the BN(O) status holder following a grant on the BN(O) route, has now been incorporated into Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas).
Corrections to the Skilled Worker route
The following changes are being made to this route:
- A sponsor must be A-rated to certify the finance requirement
- The minimum hourly rate of £10.10 (introduced on 6 April 2021 by HC 1248) that applies to applications for settlement as well as for entry clearance and permission to stay.
Several other changes are being made such as replacing references to the National Academic Recognition Information Centre. After the UK’s exit from the EU, UK NARIC, an EU member only term, has changed to UK ENIC (European Network Information Centre). Home Office is also aligning all economic routes so that relationship requirements appear under eligibility rules, not split between eligibility and validity. These changes will ensure consistency and prevent applications being rejected on a partial consideration of the relationship requirements. The instrument also makes a series of technical changes to other policy areas too.
Should you have any questions related to the changes being introduced feel free to get in touch with a member of our team.