The most recent changes to the Immigration Rules, according to the Home Office, aim to continue the government’s commitment to ‘simplifying the rules’ while also bringing in the Future Points-Based Immigration System.
This blog post aims to highlight the key parts of these new changes. For the full guidance you can follow this link.
It is good to be aware that parts of this guidance have been released already, but this new statement fully solidifies previous ones.
Some key dates within this guidance us as follows:
Much of the new guidance will take effect from 9am on 1 December 2020, however, if an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain has been made before 9am on 1 December 2020, the application will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 30 November 2020.
Parts of this guidance coming in from 9am on 1 December 2020 includes Skilled Worker visa rules, Global Talent visa, and Representative of Overseas Business visa.
The following changes take effect at 11pm on 31 December 2020: Leave to Remain, Settlement applications, and Family permits.
The changes around Hong Kong British National (Overseas) takes effect on 31 January 2021.
The Visitor rules will now:
- permit study of up to six months under the standard visit route. All study must be undertaken at an accredited institution, except recreational courses undertaken for leisure that last no 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.
Other visitation rules to take note of are:
- Permitted Paid Engagement visitor: for experts in their field coming to the UK to undertake specific paid engagements for up to one month.
- Transit visitor: for those who want to transit the UK on route to another country outside the Common Travel Area and who will enter the UK for up to 48 hours by crossing the UK border unless Appendix Visitor: Transit Without Visa Scheme applies.
Short term study route:
A new Short-term Study route is being introduced for students who wish to come to the UK to study English language courses for between 6 and 11 months, replacing the current route. The study must be at an accredited institution. Students who wish to come to the UK to study for 6 months or less may now do so under the Visitor route.
Some notable changes here are:
- Validity requirements for the online form must be completed, the fee and Immigration Health Charge paid, biometrics and passport or travel document to be provided, and that the applicant must be outside the UK and aged 16 or over at the date of application. An applicant who does not meet these requirements may have their application rejected rather than being considered and refused.
- Applicants need to have either paid their course fees, or have sufficient funds to pay their fees.
- The study that a Short-term Student can undertake must consist solely of English language study at an accredited institution. An accredited institution is one which has been independently assessed by a specified inspection body as meeting required educational standards. The student must intend to leave within 30 days of the completion of their English language course and have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK. A successful applicant will be granted a visa for 11 months.
The Parent of a Child Student route:
The Parent of a Child Student route allows one parent to come to or stay in the UK to care for their child (or children), where the child is a Child Student aged between four and 11 who is attending an independent fee-paying school in the UK.
Similarly to the above, online forms must be completed and the Immigration Health Surcharge must be paid.
Applicants need to show that they have funds available to cover their stay in the UK at £1,270 and £315 per month for both the parent and the child, if they are applying for entry clearance or who have been living in the UK for less than 12 months.
Skilled worker route:
The Skilled Worker route is a new points-based route for those who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of working in a skilled job they have been offered. The key characteristics of the new route are that an applicant must be sponsored to do a specific job, which meets skill and salary requirements, by an employer that has been licensed by the Home Office.
An application as a Skilled Worker must:
- provide a certificate of sponsorship issued to them by their sponsor, dated no more than 3 months before the date of application (sponsor must be recognised as legitimate by the Home Office);
- provide written consent to the application from any Government or international scholarship agency who awarded the applicant any award for study in the UK in the 12 months preceding the date of application as a Skilled Worker;
- be aged 18 or over on the date of application.
The general salary threshold set for Skilled Workers will be lowered from £30,000 under the Tier 2 (General) route to £25,600 a year. Sponsors must, as under Tier 2 (General) route, pay their skilled workers a salary which equals or exceeds both this threshold and the “going rate” for the occupation.
Sponsored workers may be paid less than the above amounts, depending on the tradeable points they are awarded. Applicants under the new route will need to be awarded 70 points in total.
All applicants must qualify for 50 mandatory points for:
- Sponsorship (20 points).
- A job at the appropriate skill level (20 points).
- English language skills at B1 (intermediate) level (10 points).
An applicant may be awarded the remaining 20 tradeable points in one of the following ways:
– A salary which equals or exceeds both £25,600 per year and the going rate for the occupation (20 points).
– A PhD qualification which is relevant to the job (10 points), and a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,040 per year and 90% of the going rate for the occupation (10 points).
– A PhD qualification in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job, and a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation (20 points).
– A job in a shortage occupation, and a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation (20 points).
– Being a new entrant to the labour market, and a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation (20 points).
– A job in a listed health or education occupation, and a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation (20 points).
Intra-Company Transfer Route:
On the Intra-Company Transfer route changes are being made to remove the cooling off requirement, to a single salary threshold for high earners at £73,900, and to allow people to move onto the route when already in the UK.
Start-up and Innovator routes:
These routes were reformed recently to attract to the UK those with innovative business ideas, you can read about them in our recent article – Immigration Changes for EEA Nationals from Jan 2021 – What you need to know!
Essentially, the Start-up route is for those setting up a business for the first time, who need to work to support themselves while developing their business ideas. The Innovator route is for those with industry experience and at least £50,000 funding, who can dedicate their working time to their business ventures, or those moving from Start-up who are progressing their business.
Also, each applicant for Start-up and Innovator must have the support of an approved Endorsing Body.
What do we think?
These are just some important parts of the guidance that we believe will have the most far reaching effects on people. In terms of the guidance itself, it is clear and concise. In the past the guidance has been a lot vaguer in regards to certain immigration. We are not saying these rules are perfect or that we support them wholeheartedly, but we do feel that they at least have clarity and applicants will know where they stand.
There is no getting away from the fact that the end of free movement and the introduction of a Points-Based Immigration System marks a huge change for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as for the UK in general.
We want to remind readers that EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK on or before 31 December who wish to work, study or visit the UK should not apply through the Points-Based Immigration System. If they want to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021 they should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme upon arrival in the UK.
Commonwealth citizens can continue to apply for a UK Ancestry visa to live, work or study in the UK. We are here to help anyone who has questions about these options.
It is of vital importance that people get their applications to stay in the UK in to the Home Office as soon as possible, as the time will come where it is too late and the chance will have been missed.
Please do not hesitate to get in contact with us if you have any questions whatsoever, or if you’d like our help in completing your applications.
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