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At a Glance
The Home Secretary has published a Statement of Changes to
the UK Immigration Rules. Relevant changes include:
- Changes to the EU Settlement
Scheme (EUSS) including a new right of administrative review and
clarification that close family members of UK nationals returning
with them from the European Economic Area or Switzerland will be
able to make an application until March 29, 2022 (if the
relationship existed on exit day) or December 31, 2020 (if the
relationship was established after exit day.)
- Removal of PhD roles from the
Tier 2 (General) annual quota and a wide expansion of the Shortage
Occupation List, as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee
earlier this year.
- Confirmation that Tier 2 migrants
will not be penalized for any absence from work due to sickness,
statutory parental leave, assistance in a national or international
humanitarian or environmental crisis or legal strike
- Changes to Tier 1 category
including the closure of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category for new
applicants, amendments to the investment criteria for Tier 1
(Investor) extension and settlement applications, and changes to
the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category requested by competent
- Changes to the Start-up and
Innovator categories including confirmation that business
activities can be started earlier, relaxation of Start-up visa
requirements for Tier 4 (General) students on a doctorate extension
scheme, clarification of the qualifying criteria an organization
must meet to be an endorsing body, and the removal of a
'checkpoint' between an applicant and their endorsing body
after 24 months in the Start-up category.
Most changes are effective October 1, 2019.
The Home Secretary has published a Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration
Rules, clarifying various points about the EU Settlement Scheme
(EUSS), confirming changes under Tier 2, including the removal of
PhD roles for the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS) cap
and amendments to the Shortage Occupation List (SoL), and under
Tier 1, including the closure of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category
for new migrants, amendments to the investment criteria for Tier 1
(Investor) extension and settlement applications, and changes to
the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category.
A closer look
Below is a summary of the pertinent details of the Statement of
Changes. Other important changes are described in detail here.
EU Settlement Scheme
Family members of UK nationals
- Close family members of UK nationals
returning with them from the European Economic Area (EEA) or
Switzerland having lived there together while the UK national was
exercising their free movement rights will be able to make an
application under the EUSS until March 29, 2022 (where that
relationship existed on exit day) or until December 31, 2020 (where
that relationship established post-exit day) in both deal and
- The EUSS is more generous and
flexible than family reunification rules under the UK Immigration
Rules. For example, it does not impose an GBP 18,600 (or higher if
additional children apply) minimum salary threshold, which spouses
of UK nationals who did not exercise free movement rights must
demonstrate. Eligible close family members who do not apply to the
EUSS on time will be subject to stricter requirements under the new
UK immigration rules.
|New right of
Administrative review under EUSS
- A right of administrative review has
been provided to individuals who have had their status under EUSS
cancelled at the border by an Immigration Officer on the basis that
they no longer meet the requirements for that status.
- Affected individuals now have a
mechanism to challenge status cancellations at the border.
PhD occupations from Tier 2 Cap
- PhD level occupations will be exempt
from the Tier 2 General Visa limit and therefore will not require a
- PhD level migrants undertaking
research overseas directly linked to their Tier 2 employment may do
so without absence being 'counted' for Indefinite Leave to
Remain (ILR) applications. If accompanying them, the same applies
for dependant partners.
- This should free up places in the
monthly allocation process for other skilled roles that contribute
to the economy.
- The aim of this change is to welcome
researchers and other highly-skilled individuals to the United
Kingdom. These changes will be implemented October 1, 2019.
- The UK government has implemented the
MAC's recommendations on the SoL.
- The Statement of Changes states that
all roles within certain codes will be deemed shortage occupations,
particularly in health and social care, engineering and digital
technology occupations, where previously some roles were only
deemed shortage occupations if the sponsoring business was a
- The Statement of Changes confirms
that the "qualifying company" criteria has been removed.
For example, a company that employs between 20 and 250 employees
and is not more than 25% owned by a company which has one or more
other establishments in the United Kingdom and one of those
established employs more than 250 employees.
- The amended SoL will allow employers
to more easily hire foreign workers to meet labor shortage demands
across a wider range of roles, particularly in the health and
social care, engineering and digital technology sector which
employers have reported they find difficult to fill.
- There may be an influx of SoL jobs
being recruited for under the Tier 2 General RCoS route, thus
increasing the number applications processed in the annual
- As priority is given to jobs on the
SoL, this may in turn impact smaller organization with lower salary
due to the points awarded to them if the cap is reached.
- Tier 2 migrants will not be penalised
if they are absent from work due to sickness, statutory parental
leave, assisting in a national or international humanitarian or
environmental crisis or engaging in legal strike action.
- A Tier 2 migrant's application
for ILR will not be refused if absences for the above reasons cause
their salary to fall below the applicable minimum salary
- This change is due to take effect
October 1, 2019.
- This will allow impacted migrants to
still be eligible to apply for ILR if there is a reduction in
salary as a result of a permitted reason.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category for new applications
- The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is
now closed to most initial applications but remains open to
existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Migrants that wish to set up or run a
business in the United Kingdom should consider applying for an
Innovator visa or Start-up visa. Existing Tier 1 (Graduate
Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants can continue to
extend their visa and potentially apply for settlement in this
(Investor) – Investment criteria amended for extension and
- Applicants under the pre-March 29,
2019 rules can make extension or settlement applications, provided
they move their qualifying investments out of UK government bonds
before either April 6, 2023 in the case of extension applications,
or April 6, 2025 in the case of settlement applications.
- Investors who do not meet those
deadlines can apply for further extensions and settlement if they
meet certain conditions; i.e. invest the full GBP 2 million in
qualifying investments before they apply for further extensions and
maintain the full GBP 2 million investment for the qualifying
period required for settlement.
- Individuals in this category who wish
to extend or settle in the United Kingdom are advised to plan to
ensure their investments are compliant with the Rules to enable
them to further extend in this category and qualify for
activities can be started earlier due to changes in rules relating
to Tier 4 (General) students
- Individuals who hold a Tier 4
(General) visa who have submitted a Start-up application with the
support of an endorsing body may commence their business activities
while their application is pending.
- Eligible applicants can take
advantage of this rule change to begin working on their business
activities as soon as they have submitted their Start-up visa
'checkpoint' requirement removed for Start-up
- A checkpoint between an applicant and
their endorsing body will not be required after 24 months in the
Start-up category, only in the Innovator category. Checkpoints
refer to contact between the endorsing body and the applicant at
set time frames during which the endorsing body monitors the
applicant's progress and determines if they still meet the
requirements or if endorsement needs to be withdrawn or
- The removal of the mandatory 24-month
checkpoint for the Start-up category will save time and reduce the
monitoring burden on the endorsing body. It will also make the
process more convenient for both the applicant and the endorsing
body. However, applicants and endorsing bodies for the Innovator
category will not benefit from the relaxed rules.
UK Immigration Rules are often changed multiple times a year via
a Statement of Changes, which lists the amendments that will be
incorporated into updated Immigration Rules on the specified
This new Statement of Changes largely incorporates the Migration
Advisory Committee's recommendations on the SoL, which was expected
following the Home Office's announcement that they accept the
recommendations in full earlier this year.
- Preparation for a no-deal
Brexit. Although Parliament has passed a law to attempt to
block a no-deal Brexit, the default position is that the United
Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31, 2019 without a
deal unless a further extension is approved by the European Union
or a deal is agreed before then. Fragomen's advice therefore
remains to ensure that businesses have contingency plans in place
for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, 2019.
- SoL re-review
likely. It is likely that once the reforms to the United
Kingdom's new immigration system become clearer in 2021, the
role of the SoL will be reviewed again. The new immigration system
is expected to remove the annual cap on Tier 2 (General) migrants
as well as the requirement for employers to hold a Resident Labour
Market Test, therefore the SoL is unlikely to remain as relevant or
- Ongoing MAC reviews.
The MAC is also reviewing salary thresholds and the Australian immigration system and is expected
to report back in January 2020 with recommendations.
- Relaxed post-study work rules
forthcoming. The Home Office will also re-introduce a
two-year post-study work visa for Tier 4 students who graduate from
a qualifying degree course, which was removed by previous
governments due to its more generous provisions. The reintroduction
of this two-year provision for graduates is also more generous than
the White Paper on the future immigration system
and demonstrates the current government's relatively liberal
approach to immigration in contrast to the restrictive rules
imposed by the previous Prime Minister.
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.
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