23 Oct New Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules
On 22 October 2020, the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes which provides details of the future new Points-Based System and other immigration routes.
Please note that Irish citizens will continue to have the right to enter, live and work in the UK without requiring permission and without restriction on their stay, unless they are subject to a deportation order, exclusion decision or international travel ban. As such, Irish citizens should not apply for permission to enter or stay under the Points-Based Immigration System (including as visitors) unless they require permission to enter/stay as a result of the above restrictions.
Most changes will take effect at 9 AM on 1 December 2020, in particular the new Skilled Worker route. However, the following changes shall take effect at 11 PM on 31 December 2020:
- Introduction (Provision for Irish citizens)
- Appendix FM
- Appendix FM-SE
- Appendix AR (EU)
- Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay
- Appendix ECAA Settlement
Please note that Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) will take effect on 31 January 2021.
Changes to the Visitor scheme
- Visitors will be allowed to study up to six months under the standard visit route (currently they were permitted to study only for 30 days). All study must be undertaken at an accredited institution, except recreational courses undertaken for leisure, which should not last longer than 30 days;
- Allow drivers on international routes to collect as well as deliver goods and passengers in and out of the UK;
- Remove the requirement for volunteering to be incidental to the main reason for the visit.
Changes to the New Student and Child Student rules
The maintenance will be increased to R£1334/month for students who study in London whilst £1023/month for students who reside outside of London. The latter are currently set at £1265/month in London and £1015/month outside of London.
In addition, students and their dependants will be able to work as postgraduate doctors or dentists in training.
Moreover, Parents of migrant Child Students will be granted the same leave to remain in line with their child, or on the child’s 12th birthday, whichever is sooner. Currently, this category allows one parent to enter and remain in the UK to take care of their child aged between 4-11, but the parent is required to re-apply every 12 months.
Changes to Short-term Study route
Short-term Student is a route for an individual aged 16 and over who wishes to study an English language course in the UK for between 6 and 11 months at an accredited institution. Those who intends to study for 6 months or less can now apply under the Visitor visa scheme.
New Skilled Worker scheme
The new Skilled Worker route will replace the current Tier 2 General scheme on 1 December 2020. Migrants will need to obtain a job offer from a licensed employer and meet skills and salary requirements. Please note that the significant changes in the new Points-Based system will be:
- The minimum skill threshold is being lowered from RQF level 6 to RQF level 3, roughly equivalent to A-levels or Scottish Highers;
- The general salary threshold is being reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 per year. The sponsor must pay the migrant an annual salary which is equal or above £25,600 and/or the relevant ‘going rate’ under the specific occupation, whichever is higher. Please note that individuals may be paid less than the required salary if they can be awarded tradable-points. For example, if the migrant holds a relevant PhD qualification or the role is on the shortage occupation list;
- There will be no cap under the new Skilled Worker route. Currently, the cap of 20,700 applies to ‘restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)’under the Tier 2 General route unless the migrant’s annual salary is £159,600 or higher;
- The Resident Labour Market Test will be removed as of 1 December 2020. Currently, the employer has to publish the recruitment advertisement for at least 28 days in the relevant platforms for the skilled worker;
- The 12-month “cooling off period” and six-year maximum length of stay under the current Tier 2 General route will be removed;
- The £35,800 salary threshold for settlement applications will be replaced by the amount of £25,600 per year and/or the ‘going rate’ of the occupation;
- Those migrants who are going to be sponsored in shortage occupations or listed health or education positions may be paid £20,480 per year, and have to meet the requirement of the ‘going rate’ of the occupation.
Changes to the Intra-Company Transfer rules
The current Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) route has two subcategories, one for established employees being transferred by their employer company to do a skilled role in the UK and the other for employees being transferred by their employer company to a role in the UK as part in a structured graduate training programme.
The main changes for the new Intra-Company Transfer Route and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route are listed below:
- A change is being made to the colling-off requirement. Instead of being barred from re-entering the UK as an ICT for 12 months after leavings the UK, migrants under this category will be permitted to hold ICT leave for up to five years in any 6-year rolling period or up to nine years in any 10-year period for high earners (salary above £ 73,900);
- Provisions for high earners will be unified to a single salary threshold of £73,900. Workers with salaries at or above that threshold will be permitted to hold ICT leave for up to nine years in any 10-year rolling period and they do not need to have worked for the overseas business for 12 months prior to entering the UK.
Changes to Global Talent route
- The criteria for consideration of senior appointments are being revised to better capture emerging leaders as well as those at a more advanced stage of their career;
- The definition of academic and research roles that qualify for GT is going to be expanded.
Changes to English language requirement
The new Appendix English Language will apply to applications under Appendix Skilled Worker, Appendix Representatives of an Overseas Business, Appendix T2 Minister of Religion, Appendix T2 Sportsperson, Appendix UK Ancestry, Appendix Start-up, Appendix Innovator, Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) and Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay.
The changes from the previous rules are:
- To ensure applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once;
- Updates to the majority speaking English language country list to include Malta so that Maltese citizens can rely on their nationality as proof of English language ability;
- Irish citizens do not require permission to enter or stay but Ireland is included on the list for degrees to ensure that applicants who gained a degree in Ireland can rely on this to prove their English language ability;
- Allow applicants who have gained GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK to rely on this to prove their English language ability;
Appendix Finance sets out how the financial requirement must be met. The changes to the current rules are:
- Migrants who have been residing in the UK for more than a year and have met the maintenance requirement on their current route will no longer need to provide the evidence for their extensions or change of employment;
- Applicants are required to show they have held funds to 28 days. Currently, under the Tier 2 General route, the main applicant has to hold the amount of funds of £945 for 90 days;
- Individuals may rely on a wider range of accounts, not just cash or cash savings, so long as they can access the funds immediately;
- Migrants can rely on electronic bank statements without having to have each page stamped by their bank;
- Most migrants will need to submit evidence ending within 31 days of the date of application;
- The maintenance requirement for Parents of a Child Student will be set at £1,560/month up to a maximum of 9 months; and an additional £625/month for any child other than the Child Student who will be under their care in the UK;
- The maintenance requirement for Skilled Workers, Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion and Sport-persons, Innovators and Start-Ups, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), including Seasonal Workers, Religious Workers, Charity Workers, Creative and Sporting workers, International Agreement Workers and Government Authorised Exchange Workers will be increased from £945 to £1,270 and applicants have to show they have held the funds for 28 days;
- For most dependants, the maintenance requirement is reduced from £630 to £285 for a dependant partner, £315 for the first child applying whilst £200 for each subsequent child;
- The maintenance requirement for Youth Mobility Applicants will be increased from £1,890 to £2,530 and applicants have to show they have held the funds for 28 days.
Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas)
Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) includes two routes, the BN(O) Status Holder route and the BN(O) Household Member route.
The BN(O) Status Holder route is for a BN(O) citizen who is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK. A dependent partner and a dependent child of a BN(O) citizen can, if they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK, apply under this route. In exceptional circumstances, other family members with a high degree of dependency may also apply.
The BN(O) Household Member route is for the adult child, born on or after 1 July 1997, of a BN(O) citizen. The BN(O) Household Member, and any dependent partner or child applying under this route must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK and form part of the same household as the BN(O) citizen.
EU nationals and their family members
EU nationals and their family members who enter the UK after 31 December 2020 will need to meet the requirements under the new Immigration Rules if they wish to work/study/reside in the UK.
To comply with the Agreements, from 1 July 2021, the dependency of a parent or grandparent on the resident EEA or Swiss citizen will not be assumed but will need to be evidenced, where the applicant was resident outside the UK at the end of the transition period (or was resident in the UK before that point and subsequently broke the required continuity of that residence) and where they (or their spouse, civil partner or durable partner with whom they reside) do not already have status under the EUSS as a ‘dependent parent’. Similar changes are made for any application made from 1 July 2021 for an EUSS family permit as a ‘dependent parent’.
In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements with Switzerland, the new Appendix Service Providers from Switzerland establishes an immigration route for eligible service providers from Switzerland. To be eligible, service providers will need to show that:
- They have a written work contract, signed and dated before the end of the transition period, and they have commenced work under the contract before then;
- The work contract is between businesses established in Switzerland and the UK;
- They are employed by the contracting business and required to execute its terms in the UK;
- If they are not a Swiss citizen, they are integrated into the regular labour market of Switzerland;
Successful applicants will receive an entry clearance which gives them permission to enter and leave the UK multiple times, to allow for up to 90 days’ work per calendar year.
Please note that following the end of Brexit transitional period, the UK will no longer be internationally or domestically obliged to provide preferential treatment to Turkish nationals on the basis of the ECAA or its related provisions in the Additional Protocol or Decision 1/80.
Changes to Appendix FM
Changes are being made to the rules for family members in Appendix FM to enable:
- An EEA or Swiss citizen with limited leave under Appendix EU (the EUSS) on the basis of being resident in the UK before the end of the transition period to sponsor new family members (those who are not covered by the EUSS) to come to or remain in the UK;
- A Turkish worker or business person with limited leave under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay (or under legacy arrangements in respect of the European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA)) to sponsor a partner and children to come to or remain in the UK.
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