On October 22, 2020, the UK government published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, introducing the expected "Points-Based" Immigration System.
Among the changes, most of which take effect on December 1, 2020, are the following:
- Applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once. Malta is included in the majority English-speaking country list (so Maltese nationality is proof of English language ability).
- Applicants can rely on a degree from Ireland as proof of English language ability.
- Applicants who have gained GCSE/A Level or Scottish Higher in English while at school in the UK can rely on this as proof of their English language ability (initially, only for entry clearance and permission to stay for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator).
- Students, Skilled Workers, Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportspersons, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), Start-up and Innovator applicants no longer need to meet the maintenance requirement if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than 12 months.
- Applicants are required to show they have held funds for 28 days (initially, only for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator routes)
- Applicants can rely on electronic bank statements without requiring that they be certified by the bank on every page.
- Applicants can rely on a wider range of accounts, not just cash or cash savings, as long as the funds can be accessed immediately.
- Applicants must submit evidence of funds within 31 days of the date of application.
- The maintenance requirement for Parents of a Child Student is set at £1560/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 Sportspersons, Innovators and Start-Ups, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), including Seasonal Workers, Religious Workers, Charity Workers, Creative and Sporting workers, International Agreement Workers and Government Authorized Exchange Workers will be increased from £945/month to £1270/month and applicants are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days.
- For most dependents, the maintenance requirement is reduced from £630/month to £285/month for a dependent partner, £315/month for the first child applying and £200/month for each subsequent child.
- The maintenance requirement for Youth Mobility Applicants will be increased from £1890/month to £2530/month and applicants are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days.
- The maintenance requirement for Students will be £1334 /month in London and £1023/month outside London.
- Visitors are permitted to study for up to six months, rather than 30 days as currently. This does not apply to recreational leisure courses. A new short-term study route allows study for 6-11 months.
- The minimum skill level is reduced from RQF level 6 (university degree) to level 3 (A-level or equivalent).
- The Tier 2 cap is suspended.
- The Resident Labour Market Test is removed.
- Sponsored workers continue to require a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points), for a job at an appropriate skill level (20 points) and English language skills at B1 (intermediate) level (10 points).
- The standard minimum salary
requirement is reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 and the
going rate for the occupation (20 points), but with some
- £23,430 and 90% of the going rate for the occupation for those who have a relevant PhD.
- £20,480 and 80% of the going rate for the occupation for those working in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List or in a listed health or education occupation, or who have relevant PhDs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
- £20,480 and 70% of the going rate for the occupation for new entrants to the labor market.
- New entrants will also include those sponsored in postdoctoral research positions and those working towards professional qualifications, registration or chartered status. The criteria for new entrants switching from the Student route are being widened to include those were in the route at any time in the two years before they apply.
- The 12-month "cooling off period" and six-year maximum length of stay in the route are being removed. The Skilled Worker route will not restrict when applications can be made or restrict length of stay.
- The £35,800 salary threshold for settlement applications is being removed. Instead, sponsors must be paying their skilled workers a salary which equals or exceeds £25,600 per year and the going rate for the occupation (or £20,480 and the going rate for the occupation for shortage occupations or listed health or education occupations).
- The Tier 2 (General) route will be closed to new applications from December 1, 2020. A person who has entry clearance or permission to stay on the Tier 2 (General) route and wants to extend their stay in the UK can apply for further leave, or settlement, under the Skilled Worker rules if they meet the requirements.
- All Skilled Worker applications, including Dependent partner and child applications, which are made on or after December 1 will be decided in accordance with the new Skilled Worker rules, even where they are accompanied by a Certificate of Sponsorship which was issued under the Tier 2 (General) rules and policy in place before December 1. Sponsors will need to provide additional information via a "sponsor note" to allow Certificates of Sponsorship issued before December 1, 2020 to be used for a Skilled Worker application.
- This route will require applicants to be in roles skilled to RQF6, and subject to a different minimum salary threshold from the main Skilled Worker route. It will not be subject to English language requirements but will be subject to a requirement that the worker has been employed by the sending business for a minimum period prior to the transfer (12 months in the case of intra-company transfers or three months in the case of intra-company graduate trainees).
- High-earners - those earning at least £73,900 per year (reduced from £120,000) - do not need to have been working for the sponsoring business overseas for at least 12 months.
- The "cooling off" rules will be adjusted for intra-company transfers, so that an overseas intra-company transfer must not hold entry clearance or leave to enter or remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five years in any six-year rolling period, except where they qualify as high earners to be granted up to nine years in any ten-year rolling period.
- Those admitted on the route will be permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker route whilst still in the UK if they meet the qualifying requirements for that route.
- Changes have been made to the definition of qualifying academic and research roles, and the criteria for senior appointments.
EU, Swiss and Turkish Citizens
- EU or Swiss citizens with limited leave under Appendix EU (the EU Settlement Scheme or EUSS) on the basis of being resident in the UK before the end of the transition period can sponsor new family members (those not covered by the EUSS) to come to or remain in the UK.
- Turkish workers and businesspersons with limited leave under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay (or under legacy arrangements in respect of the European Communities Association Agreement or ECAA) can sponsor a partner and children to come to or remain in the UK.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.