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A summary of coming changes to the UK immigration system

Oct 29, 2020

As of 01/01/2021 there will be a number of changes to the UK immigration system, including the introduction of the new points based system, a summary of which can be found here.

Changes to take place from 01.12.2020

  • EU nationals cannot apply for leave to remain under routes other than Appendix EU, Appendix S2 Healthcare Visitor or Appendix Service Providers from Switzerland, before 11pm on 31 December. They can apply for any Entry Clearance before then, but any leave will be granted to start on 1 January 2021.

As of January 1 2021 they will have to apply for entry under the same rules as non-EU nationals.

COVID 19

  • The rules have been amended to allow caseworkers to disregard overstaying between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 as a result of Covid-19.
  • Absences due to a “pandemic” will be added on as an exception to the 180 day rule for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship applications.

English Language

  • Malta has been added as a majority English speaking country.
  • Applicants will only need to prove English once and will not need to continue to provide evidence of their English language ability for subsequent applications (For example when applying for Set-O after 5 years on a Tier 2 visa which required you to demonstrate English Language. You will only need to demonstrate your English language ability again if the requirements have changed (for example Life Skills A1 for an initial spouse visa application and A2 for the extension)
  • Degrees from Republic of Ireland can be used to demonstrate English Language ability.
  • The rules will allow applicants to rely on GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK to prove English language. This last change will, initially, only apply to applications for students, skilled workers, start-up and innovator migrants.

Maintenance

  • Skilled Workers, ICT, Students, Tier 2 Ministers of Religion, Tier 2 Sportpersons, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), Start-up and Innovator applicants will NOT need to meet the maintenance requirement if they have been in the UK for more than 12 months.
  • Maintenance figure increased from £945 to £1,270 and applicants are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days (rather than 90 days).
  • For most dependants, the maintenance requirement is reduced from £630 to £285 for a dependant partner, £315 for the first child applying and £200 for each subsequent child
  • The maintenance requirement for Youth Mobility Applicants will be increased from £1,890 to £2,530 and applicants are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days

Appendix FM (Family Visas)

  • Will expand to include new family members of EU nationals with limited leave under EUSS – so family members not covered by the EUSS. We believe this is likely to be limited to spouses, partners and children under 18 only, but are awaiting confirmation.

Visitors

  • Holders of visit visas can now study for up to 6 months rather than 30 days. The short term study visa will still be available for those wanting to study for 6-11 months

Skilled Worker route

  • Largely this is unchanged from the information summarised here https://ukvisas.co.uk/new-uk-immigration-system-july-update/
  • The 12-month “cooling off period” and six-year maximum length of stay in the route are being removed for both Tier 2 General and ICT.
  • The £35,800 salary threshold for indefinite leave to remain applications is being removed, and replaced with £25,600 or the going rate for the occupation.
  • MAC Shortage Occupation recommendations have been put on hold as the government wants to see how the UK labour marker develops post COVID and after the introduction of new PBS system.
  • For an application to be valid, the COS must have been issued [This means you cannot submit an application now without a COS and then supply the COS later].

Tier 2 ICT

  • High earner is now £73,900. Migrants on this route can have leave up to 9 years and do not need to have worked for the business for 12 months prior to application.
  • Time limit - 5 years in any 6-year rolling period or, for high earners, up to 9 years in any 10-year rolling period.

Turkish nationals

  • Will also need to meet the new Immigration rules from 31.12.2020

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme

  • San Marino is being added to the list – 1000 spots will be allocated
  • Republic of Korea is also being added.

British National Overseas Visa (For those in Hong Kong)

Please see our summary here https://ukvisas.co.uk/the-hong-kong-bno-visa-what-is-it-and-how-can-i-get-it/) this route will be opening on 31.01.2021 and there will be two routes available. One will be for holders of British National Overseas Status and one will be for their household members.

Skilled Worker category:

New Entrants

In addition to having a job offer on Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupation (which will replace  Appendix J) the applicant must

(a) be under the age of 26 on the date of application; or

(b) the job offer must be for a postdoctoral position in any of the following occupation codes: 2111, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2119. 2311 or

(c) the job offer must be in a UK regulated profession and the applicant must be working towards a recognised professional qualification for that profession; or

(d) the applicant must be working towards full registration or chartered status with the relevant professional body for the job they are being sponsored for; or

(e) the application must be for permission to stay and the applicant’s most recent permission must have been as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant; or

(f) all of the following conditions apply:

(i) the applicant’s most recent permission was as a Student: and

(ii) that permission expired less than 2 years before the date of application; and

(iii) in that permission or any previous permission as a Student, the applicant was sponsored to study one of the following courses (not any other qualifications of an equivalent level):

  • a UK bachelor’s degree; or UK master’s degree; or UK PhD or other doctoral qualification; or Postgraduate Certificate in Education; or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education; and

(iv) the applicant has completed (or is applying no more than 3 months before they are expected to complete) the course in (iii) above, or the applicant is studying a PhD and has completed at least 12 months study in the UK towards the PhD.

Granting the application must not mean the applicant’s combined permission as a Skilled Worker and/or Tier 2 Migrant would be more than 4 years in total, whether or not the permission is for a continuous period.

Settlement

In addition, to the salary threshold changing to £25,600 or the going rate for the occupation, the following also applies:

Other salary reductions permitted through tradeable points will not apply to settlement applications. Therefore those sponsored in shortage occupations or listed health or education occupations who may have been paid £20,480 per year, for settlement application, their salary must equal or exceed the going rate for the occupation

Allowances under the Skilled Worker category

Allowances can only be included in salary calculations for applicants who are applying before 1 December 2026 and were last granted permission as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, provided they are still working for the same sponsor as in their previous permission, and the allowances are guaranteed for the duration of the applicant’s permission. If not fitting into the above then the following applies and basically means allowances will not be permitted to be included in a salary:

Salary only includes guaranteed basic gross pay (before income tax and including employee pension and national insurance contributions).

Salary does not include other pay and benefits, such as any of the following:

(a) pay which cannot be guaranteed because the nature of the job means that hours fluctuate; or

(b) additional pay such as shift, overtime or bonus pay, (whether or not it is guaranteed); or

(c) employer pension and employer national insurance contributions; or

(d) any allowances, such as accommodation or cost of living allowances; or

(e) in-kind benefits, such as equity shares, health insurance, school or university fees, company cars or food; or

(f) one-off payments, such as ‘golden hellos’; or

(g) any payments relating to immigration costs, such as the fee or Immigration Health Charge; or

(h) payments to cover business expenses, including (but not limited to) travel to and from the applicant’s country of residence, equipment, clothing, travel or subsistence.

Tradeable points

For applications made before 24 May 2023, if applicant previously had permission as T2 general migrant with a COS given to them before 24 November 2016, then they do not need to score 20 tradeable points In these cases, 20 tradeable points will be awarded for a salary of £20,800 or above, or, if higher, the going rate for the occupation code.

If you have a query about the new rules or require help with an immigration issue, please get in touch with us for a consultation on 01403 801 801 or at [email protected]

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