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On 9 September, the UK government announced changes to the Immigration Rules. This update details only the changes ... More

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Changes to the UK Immigration Rules as Announced in September 2019

On 9 September, the UK government announced changes to the Immigration Rules. This update details only the changes of most direct relevance to employers and sponsors – there are many other rule changes and the full Statement of Changes can be accessed here.

In addition to these changes, there has been another important and very recent government proposal relating to Tier 4 international students for the 2020/2021 intake – that is, that they will be able to stay in the UK for two years beyond completing their course. It is understood that such students will be issued a two year post-study work visa without needing a job offer or an employer to sponsor them and without any restriction on the type of work they can do. Since 2012, most students graduating from a UK university have had just four months from the end of their studies to change visa category (i.e. into Tier 2, which carries minimum salary thresholds and other costs and administrative burdens, and arguably makes them unattractive recruits) or leave the UK. That is not a practice adopted by most of the countries with whom the UK competes for the best international students, and so this is a move to be welcomed from that perspective. We await full details of the scheme. The September Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules include the following (different rules will come into force on different dates):

From 6 October 2019 and relating to Tier 2 of the Points Based System:

·  Very welcome news for employers – in May 2019, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its review of the UK shortage occupation list (known as SOL). It recommended new occupations be added and/or widened, including web designers, engineers, health/ medical, biological scientists, psychologists, veterinarians, architects and IT specialists (to see the full list, click here to page 84). This means that fewer roles will now be subject to very strict rules on passing the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) – in turn, this is likely to speed up candidate onboarding times.

·   Previous very strict rules in relation to licensed sponsors with digital technology qualifying status offering jobs in digital technology SOC codes will be relaxed.

·    Schools will be pleased that advertising roles on the “Teaching Vacancies” platform will now meet the requirements of an acceptable RLMT advertising method.

·  Some SOC salary rates have been modified and will apply to Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned from 6 October 2019.

·   Ph.D. level occupations will be exempt from the annual monthly restricted CoS limit (currently set at 20,700).

From 1 October 2019:

·  Employees sponsored in Ph.D. level SOC codes with UK absences for research purposes and relating to their visa sponsorship, will no longer have these absences counted within the indefinite leave to remain (settlement) absence rules. By way of reminder, migrants granted leave since 11 January 2018 must not exceed 180 days’ absence in any rolling 12-month period.

·   The rules on migrant salaries in the run-up to those applying for indefinite leave to remain where there has been a temporary reduction in earnings will be extended to cover a wider group – the rules will extend to those absent from work due to sickness, statutory parental leave, assisting in a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis and engaging in legal strike action – this is in addition to those on maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave.

·    English language tests and Life in the UK certificates – applicants will be able to rely on their unique reference number, no longer requiring their paper test certificate.

·  Many technical changes have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme rules (known as EUSS) – particularly for the family members of UK nationals returning from a European Economic Area (EEA) Member State or Switzerland. Most of the changes appear to provide clarity. There have also been some big changes to the “suitability” EUSS rules covering circumstances where applications may or must be refused.

· Administrative reviews (a mechanism to challenge decisions) must now be submitted online unless the original application was made on a valid paper form.

·    Changes will also be made to the deadlines for applying for administrative review under the EUSS rules, and a discretionary rule to allow late applications will be removed – this change is not likely to be welcomed, particularly for applicants granted pre-settled status when they believe they qualify for settled status.

To summarise, most of these changes are positive and likely to be welcomed by employers and recruiters. They are likely to decrease recruitment timescales and mark the government’s commitment to attract the “brightest and best global talent” to participate in the country’s economic development in a post-Brexit environment. In particular, the return of the post-study work visa for international students is likely to mean an increased talent pool to recruit from and the hiring of international students themselves will become easier, speedier and less expensive.

Changes in the ways of Applying           ( 2 November 2018 )

If you make an application on or after 2 November 2018, you may be given a choice between using a new service for enrolling your biometrics and submitting evidence or using the existing service offered through the Post Office or at a Premium Service Centre (subject to availability).

What is changing?

Customers seeking leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently on the following routes will have a choice between using the existing service or the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS):

  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): graduate trainee
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer): long term staff
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Tier 4 (General) student
  • Tier 4 (Child) student
  • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)
  • PBS dependent: partner
  • PBS dependent: child
  • Member of HM forces or their dependents
  • Turkish businessperson or worker
  • Dependent partner of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent partner)
  • Dependent child of a Turkish businessperson or worker (ECAA 3: dependent child)
  • Settle or extend your leave in the UK: Turkish ECAA categories only
  • Settle in the UK: long residence
  • Settle in the UK: child
  • Settle in the UK: partner of a person or parent of a child already settled in the UK
  • Settle in the UK: HM forces category
  • Settle in the UK: refugee or humanitarian protection
  • Settle in the UK: certain categories
  • British citizenship by naturalisation
  • Register for British citizenship as a child under 18
  • Register as a British citizen
  • Update, replace or transfer: biometric residence permit
  • Other leave to remain applications within the Rules (unless noted below)
  • Apply for a Home Office travel document

Over the next few months, the majority of paper application forms will be withdrawn and most UK-based customers applying for leave to remain in the UK or to settle permanently will need to apply online. Check the GOV.UK guidance to see how to make an application.

On the new service, customers will be intuitively led through an online application process making it clear what they need to do, what supporting evidence they will need and where they will need to go to complete their application.

New service: UKVCAS centres

Under the new service, you’ll make your application and pay your application fee online, this will also include your biometric enrolment fee (if applicable). You will also have to pay the immigration health surcharge (if applicable) online before you make your application and include your reference number on your online application. 


You will be able to choose an appointment within 5 working days of making your application. You are encouraged to go to an appointment as soon as possible and will receive a reminder after 15 working days if you have not attended an appointment.

If your application includes family members, you will all need to attend an appointment at a UKVCAS centre at the same time.

Children under 16 must be accompanied to their appointment by the responsible adult named on the application. If you choose to use the new service, you will not need to post your supporting evidence to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You will either self-upload your evidence or take it with you to your appointment. You will be told how to do this when you submit your application.

In most cases, you will have your supporting evidence (including your passport) returned to you immediately once the appointment is finished. You may not be able to use your passport for travel until you have received a decision on your application.

You will be told what you need to bring to your appointment when you submit your application, this will include:

  • appointment confirmation
  • passport or travel document
  • supporting evidence (unless you choose to self-upload)      

At your appointment you will:

  • show your appointment confirmation (you will get this as an email containing a QR code) and ID documents to confirm your appointment
  • enrol your biometric information (fingerprints, photograph) and digital signature
  • submit your supporting evidence (unless you choose to self-upload this)
  • show your passport or travel document and have your identity checked
  • speak to a member of staff who will check that your biometric information has been successfully enrolled and your passport and supporting evidence has scanned correctly

Service and Support Centres

In January 2019, UKVI will start opening dedicated Service and Support Centres (SSCs). You must apply using the existing service until then if you’re applying for these routes. 

These service centres will be for:

  • some customers applying under family route
  • customers applying to join as a dependant
  • customers applying for family reunion
  • customers applying on the basis of statelessness
  • customers who qualify for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • customers applying under the domestic violence route
  • those making further submissions after a failed asylum claim
  • some customers who are required to only enrol their biometric information

Further information on SSCs will be made available later this year.

Existing service

If you apply on or before 29 November 2018, you can choose to use the existing service and enrol your biometric information at the Post Office or a Premium Service Centre if you’re applying for one of these routes. You’ll be told how to do this as part of your application and in your biometrics enrolment letter.

If you are applying through one of the below routes, you will not be able to use the new service and will continue to use the existing service:

  • to join family members in the UK as a dependent, other than a PBSdependent, armed forces dependent or ECAA dependent
  • for family reunion with a refugee or person with humanitarian protection
  • on the basis of statelessness
  • on the basis as a victim of domestic violence under the specific route
  • making further submissions after a failed protection claim
  • to only enrol your biometric information
  •  for a fee waiver or fee exemption
  • apply for a certificate of right of abode
  • apply for a registration certificate as an EEA or Swiss national
  • apply for a document certifying permanent residence as an EEA or Swiss national

Customers applying under the family or private life route, depending on their individual circumstances, may be able to use the new service. During your application you will be advised about which services you are able to use.

Service standards

For both the new and existing services, you’ll be told on your application form how long it should take to get a decision. You’ll also be told if you can get a faster decision on your application.

You’ll be contacted by UKVI if your application is going to take longer.

If you choose to use the UKVCAS service, you will be able to apply to use the priority service online.  You’ll find out how to do this when you’ve completed your application.

If choose to use the existing Post Office service, you will have to request to use the service and get a reference number before making your application online. Read the guidance for the Tier 2 priority service or Tier 4 priority service to find out how to use these services.

Appointments at Premium Service Centres

From 29 November 2018 to 8 January 2019, for customers applying online for leave based on family life or private life who choose UKVI’s 24-hour decision service, there will be limited appointments available in the Premium Service Centres (PSCs) for those not able to use UKVCAS. During your application you will be advised about which services you are able to use.

The customers who can use this service will be those applying for leave based on family life or private life where one of the following conditions applies:

  • they have no extant leave
  • they are applying for the first time or are switching from an unrelated route 

New Fees (immigration and nationality applications)     (26 February 2016)

Confirmation of new application and service fees announced by UK Visas and Immigration.

In January, the Home Office introduced legislation to set the maximum amounts it can charge for visa, immigration and nationality applications over the next 4 years. This legislation is now in force.

Today, 26 February, the Home Office laid further legislation in Parliament, which will make changes to specific application fees.

The new legislation will come into effect on 18 March (6 April for the Isle of Man).

The main changes are:

·                     visas linked most closely to economic growth, such as those offered to workers and students, will be increased by 2%

·                     a 2% increase will apply to all visit visas to help maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s top tourist destinations

·                     an increase of up to 25% will apply to settlement, residence and nationality fees, as these routes deliver the most benefits to successful applicants

·                     an increase of up to 33% for optional premium services offered by the Home Office such as the super premium service and priority visa services overseas

Fees for all sponsorship categories will be held at the current rates.

These changes ensure that the Home Office can achieve a self-funding system, whilst continuing to provide a competitive level of service, and a fees structure that remains attractive to businesses, migrants and visitors.  

Immigration Rules Changes           (29 October 2015)

UK Visas and Immigration is making changes to the Immigration Rules affecting various categories.

The government announced today (29 October), changes to the Immigration Rules. Most of these changes will affect all applications submitted on or after 19 November 2015 unless otherwise stated.

The main changes are:


·         making asylum claims from EU nationals invalid, unless exceptional circumstances apply

·         clarifying the circumstances in which refugee status will be withdrawn


·         ensuring indefinite leave and naturalisation applicants, who normally rely on an English language qualification, take a secure English language test

·         the introduction of the £35k minimum earnings threshold for Tier 2 settlement, which will come into force on 6 April 2016

Family/private life

·         providing that a child’s application for entry clearance will be refused where the Secretary of State considers that the sponsor or the sponsor’s partner poses a risk to the child

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the points-based system

·         amending the endorsement criteria used by Tech City UK, to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the UK digital technology sector

Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system

  • adding nurses and four digital technology jobs to Tier 2 shortage occupation list
  • changes to clarify the charity worker rules for sponsors and applicants.
  • setting the annual allocation of places available under the youth mobility scheme for 2016
  • minor amendments to the list of government authorised exchange schemes 

Changes to the Immigration Rules – October 2013       (06 September 2013)

Today, Friday 6 September 2013, a written ministerial statement was laid in Parliament outlining a number of changes to the Immigration Rules.The changes, which come into effect on 1 October 2013, will mean greater flexibility for businesses and workers and include:

  •         removing the English language requirement for intra-company transferees;
  •          making it easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2;
  •         waiving share ownership restrictions for some senior staff; and
  •         allowing some students to work as interns under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme.

Tourist and business visitors will benefit from the following changes:

  •         Allowing tourists and business visitors to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit.
  •          Expanding the activities a business visitor can do in the UK.
  •          Removing the prospective student route.
  •          expanding checks to ensure applicants for work and student visas are genuine, and that they intend to meet the conditions of leave they apply for;
  •          introducing powers to refuse Tier 4 extension applications where the applicant cannot speak English;
  •          introducing a scheme which allows some locally engaged staff in Afghanistan to relocate to the UK;
  •          setting new youth mobility scheme quotas for 2014;
  •          enabling those who demonstrate exceptional promise in the arts to apply under Tier 1;
  •          changes to the way we handle settlement applications for refugees who have committed crimes, and adding the power to curtail leave for persistent or serious offenders;
  •          introducing temporary Immigration Rules so participants and personnel can come to the UK during the 2014 Commonwealth Games;
  •          minor changes and clarifications to the Immigration Rules, including those relating to family life.

From 28 October there will also be changes to the way applicants for indefinite leave to remain are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.  

Applying for settlement from inside the UK           (09 July 2012)

New Immigration Rules came into force on 9 July 2012 which changed the length of time that family members must be in the UK before applying for settlement.

The Rules apply to partners of:

  • British citizens;
  • someone in the UK with refugee leave; or
  • someone in the UK with humanitarian protection.

If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or before 8 July 2012 and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 2 years before you can apply for settlement. If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or after 9 July 2012 for the 5-year family route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 5 years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for another period of 2 and a half years.

If you applied on or after 9 July 2012 to come to the UK or for permission to stay here for the 10-year family route, or for permission to stay here on the 10-year private life route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 10 years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for 2 and a half years, and then you can apply for three more periods of 2 and a half year.

Judgement on Carers of British Citizens                    (21 September 2011)

The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) recently handed down judgment in the case of Ruiz Zambrano (C-34/09). This judgement creates a right to reside and work for the sole carer of a dependent British citizen when that carer has no other right of residence in the UK and removing the carer from the UK would mean the British citizen would have to leave the European Union. The UK Border Agency has been considering the effect of this judgement and whether any changes are required to our policy or the law as a result. Until now, we have not accepted applications we have received on this basis as there is currently no provision within the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (the regulations) to issue documentation on this basis.

We will amend the regulations in due course to enable a person to be issued with a document confirming that they have a right to live in the UK as a result of the Ruiz Zambrano judgement. However, in the meantime, we will issue a certificate of application to those who are able to show:

  • Evidence that the dependent national is a British citizen;
  • Evidence of the relationship between the applicant and the British citizen; and
  • Adequate evidence of dependency between the applicant and the British citizen.

This certificate will enable a person to work in the UK while their application is outstanding. Once changes to the regulations are made, the application will be given full consideration and documentation will be issued under the regulations to those who meet the final agreed policy.

Employers can accept this certificate of application, in combination with a positive verification from our Employer Checking Service, as proof of right to work in the UK for up to 12 months. This document combination comes under entry 5 of List B within the 'Comprehensive guidance for employers on preventing illegal working', and will provide an employer with a statutory excuse against payment of a civil penalty for up to 12 months.

Note:    [The news reproduced on this page are as they appeared on the website of the UKVI, Home Office]


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