On 10 September the Home Office published details of changes that will be made to the Immigration Rules, in most cases taking effect from early October.
The announced changes are wide ranging – some simply introduce new terminology, others clear up omissions or drafting errors in the previous December changes or incorporate concessions originally made outside the rules.
We’ve highlighted key changes below, and we’ll be pulling out further detail and implications in future blogs.
What are the key changes?
Sole Representative – new settlement requirement to prevent business ‘owners’ from applying
The change introduces an additional requirement for settlement – the Representative of an Overseas Business must not be a majority shareholder, or otherwise own or control the overseas business, during the entire term of their visa.
Visitor rules – expansion of permitted activities for overseas manufacturers and suppliers
Under current permitted activities, employees of overseas companies who manufacture or supply goods to the UK are allowed to visit the UK to install, repair, service, etc. these goods. From 6 October 2021 this permission will be extended beyond employees of the manufacturer/supplier to include employees of an overseas business that is ‘part of a contractual arrangement for after-sales services agreed at the time of the sale or lease.’
Sportsperson route – amalgamation of the current T2 and T5 routes
A new International Sportsperson route will be launched from 11 October 2021. This combines the current T2 Sportsperson and T5 Sporting Worker routes. The combined route will still cater to athletes who wish to travel to the UK for 12 months or less without the need to demonstrate English Language ability.
Global Talent visa – slight easing of criteria
A number of changes are being implemented which should make it – slightly – easier to obtain endorsement. The list of ‘prestigious prizes’, which can be an alternative to endorsement, is also being significantly expanded, though remains at a very high level.
Youth Mobility scheme – new countries added
From 1 January 2022 the Youth Mobility scheme, which allows young nationals of specified countries to live, work and study in the UK for up to 2 years, will be extended to include Iceland and India.
No more entry to the UK with an ID card for most EEA nationals
From 1 October 2021 EEA citizens will need a passport to demonstrate nationality and identity at the UK border, rather than an ID card, unless they fall under one of the following exceptions.
Excluded from the requirement to present a passport at the UK border are EEA nationals:
- with indefinite or limited leave to enter or remain granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
- who have made a valid application under the EU Settlement Scheme which has not yet been determined (excluding those who have applied as a joining family member)
- with a valid EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit
- with a frontier worker permit
- seeking to come to the UK as an S2 Healthcare Visitor
Also excluded from the requirement to present a passport are Swiss nationals with a Service Providers from Switzerland visa.
Covid Concessions enshrined in Immigration Rules
A number of concessions that were put into place on a temporary basis by the Home Office will be incorporated into the rules.
For Skilled Workers (and Tier 2 Sportspersons)
The Home Office had put into place a temporary Covid-related concession allowing individuals in the UK to start working for a new employer as soon as their application had been submitted, providing that new employer had assigned a CoS for the employment concerned. The Home Office have now confirmed that time spent between commencement of such employment and the subsequent grant of a visa can be taken into account as part of the five-year qualifying period for settlement. The new rule applies to those who submitted their visa application between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2021.
For EU Settlement Scheme applicants
Under the immigration rules an application for Settlement will stand to fail if the individual has spent more than 6 months out of the UK in any 12-month period, save for a single period of no more than 12 months which was for an ‘important reason’. In June the Home Office published guidance advising that a second period of absence of over 6 months (max 12 months) would be permitted if it was due to Coronavirus. This concession is now being included in the Immigration Rules themselves.
A Covid-related concession had allowed Entrepreneurs to extend their stay on the basis of having created two new jobs, without the usual requirement for these to have been maintained for 12 months. From 1 October the Immigration Rules will confirm that anyone applying for settlement who benefitted from this Covid concession must have created and maintained two jobs for at least 12 months AND either maintained these for a further 12 months (ie at least 24 months in total), or created a further two jobs that have existed for at least 12 months.
Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route – rules enshrine concession allowing partner and child to apply to join a HKBN(O) visa holder
Under the HKBN(O) route a partner or dependant child under 18 was originally required to apply at the same time as the main applicant. The Home Office introduced a concession outside the rules to allow such individuals to apply after the main applicant had been granted leave under this route. This concession has now been incorporated into the rules. A grandchild of the main applicant must still apply at the same time as their grandparent.