In the space of two days last week the Home Office published two statements of changes to the Immigration Rules. The first Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1496) was published on 17 July 2023, followed by a second Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1715) on 19 July 2023.
In this post we highlight some of the key changes to the Immigration Rules that applicants should be aware of, including:
- 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.
Changes to the Visitor route
With effect from 3pm on 19 July 2023, the following nationalities have been added to the visa national list in Appendix Visitor: Visa national list:
Nationals or citizens of countries on the visa national list need to apply for entry clearance as a Visitor prior to travelling to the UK as a Visitor, or for any other purpose for less than six months.
Unless they are visiting the UK to marry or to form a civil partnership, or to give notice of marriage or civil partnership, nationals or citizens of Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu, who hold confirmed bookings to the UK made on or before 3pm on 19 July 2023 may travel to the UK as a Visitor without a visit visa until 16 August 2023.
Changes to the Student route
With effect from 3pm on 17 July 2023, international students whose course starts on or after 1 January 2024 are no longer permitted to bring dependents to the UK.
An exception is made for international students whose course is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree (as defined in the rules) who may continue to bring dependents to the UK even after 1 January 2024.
Student dependents already in the UK may continue to extend their stay. Existing exemptions for dependents of government-sponsored students and for dependent children who are born in the UK are also preserved.
The recent amendments to the Immigration Rules also remove the ability of international students to switch in-country out of the student route and into a work route before completing their studies.
Work routes include the Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker, Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, Secondment Worker, T2 Minister of Religion, Representative of an Overseas Business, Global Talent, High Potential Individual, Scale-Up, Innovator Founder and International Sportsperson routes.
Students on courses at degree level or above may apply before completing their course to switch to a sponsored work route, as long as their employment start date is not before their course completion.
Those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch into a work route after 24 months’ study.
The amendments also remove the ability for international students to apply for permission to stay as a dependant in a work route, as a dependant under the UK Ancestry route, or as a dependant in any of the Temporary Worker routes (Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, International Agreement, Government Authorised Exchange).
Changes to the Skilled Worker route
Following an interim review by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the Shortage Occupation List is being updated to include certain construction and fishing industry occupations. The update will come into effect from 7 August 2023.
The Shortage Occupation List offers lower salary requirements and lower Skilled Worker visa application fees for jobs identified as being in shortage and where immigration is a sensible part of addressing that shortage.
All jobs in the following occupations in construction are being added to the list:
- 5312 Bricklayers and masons
- 5313 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
- 5315 Carpenters and joiners
- 5319 Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified
- 5321 Plasterers
Following a further recommendation by the MAC, dryliners are being reclassified to the same occupation code as plasterers, making the job eligible to be sponsored for the Skilled Worker route and included on the Shortage Occupation List.
Jobs in the fishing industry in the following occupations are also being added to the Shortage Occupation List:
- 5119 Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified
- 9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified – only deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) where the job requires the worker to have at least 3 years’ full-time experience in using their skills. This experience must not have been gained through working illegally.
A change is also being made for applicants who are sponsored for General Practitioner (GP) specialty training. The change means that they will be granted permission until 4 months after the end date of their certificate of sponsorship, instead of the usual 14 days. This is because, unlike other applicants who have qualified in the UK, they cannot benefit from the Graduate route and may need additional time to find employment with a GP practice that is a licensed sponsor. A further change is being made to allow them to undertake supplementary employment during this period.
Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permit
From September 2023, individuals with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their status extended by 2 years before it expires if they have not already obtained settled status.
This move, which implements the judgement in Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements v the Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 3274 (Admin) (21 December 2022) will ensure that persons who do not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status do not lose their immigration status. No application will be necessary and affected persons will be notified of the extension.
The Immigration Rules for the EUSS in Appendix EU are also being amended to make the deadline for a EUSS application (or, in line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, having reasonable grounds for the delay in making an application) a requirement for making a valid application. This will enable the Home Office to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for a late application as a preliminary issue, before going on to consider whether a valid application meets the relevant eligibility and suitability requirements.
The Home Office will not reassess the validity of an application which has already been confirmed as valid by the issuing of a Certificate of Application.
From 8 August 2023, the EUSS Family Permit will close to new applications by family members of a qualifying British citizen on their return to the UK having exercised free movement rights in the EEA or Switzerland (known as the ‘Surinder Singh’ route) and to primary carers of a British citizen (known as the ‘Zambrano’ route). Applicants considering these routes will have to meet the family Immigration Rules applicable to others instead.
The Surinder Singh and Zambrano routes will remain open to those who are already on them. Those granted an EUSS Family Permit on the basis of a Surinder Singh or Zambrano application made by 8 August 2023 will also be able to come to the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
In this post we have highlighted some of the key changes to the Immigration Rules introduced by Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1496) published on 17 July 2023 and Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1715) published on 19 July 2023.
For expert advice in relation to a UK visa application or immigration appeal, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.