We provide an update on the recently announced changes to immigration rules in the UK.
There has recently been a flurry of updates concerning the immigration rules. Below is an overview of relevant changes.
On 13 July 2023, the UK Government announced that the normal rate for the immigration health surcharge will increase from £624 to £1,035 per year. The discounted rate (for students, children, and youth mobility visa holders) will increase from £470 to £776 per year.
Work and visit visa application fees are also set to rise by 15% and student visas, certificates of sponsorship, settlement, citizenship, entry clearance and leave to remain applications are likely to increase by at least 20%.
There has been no official statement from the Government on when the increase in the immigration health surcharge and UK visa application fees will come into effect. However, it may be as soon as autumn 2023.
Statement of changes
Following this, a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1496) was published on 17 July 2023, with an explanatory memorandum.
If an international student’s course start date is on or after 1 January 2024, they are no longer permitted to bring dependants unless the course is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree, which is defined in the Rules.
International students will no longer be allowed to switch into work routes before their studies have completed: "7.12 The switching restrictions will ensure that students are generally not switching in-country to another route until they have completed their courses. Students on courses at degree level or above will be able to apply before course completion to switch to sponsored work routes, as long as their employment start date is not before their course completion. Those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch 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, e.g., Skilled Worker, etc., under the UK Ancestry route, or any of the Temporary Worker routes.
Shortage occupation list
From 7 August 2023, there will be changes to the shortage occupation list to reflect the recommendations made by the Migration Advisory Committee, by adding certain construction and fishing industry occupations. This will be welcome news to those sectors, as the roles will benefit from lower salary requirements and reduced application fees.
Ukraine Extension Scheme
Also from 7 August 2023, there will be an extension of the Ukraine Extension Scheme to include Ukrainian nationals who had permission to enter or stay in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023 and extend the deadline, such that applications must be made on or before 16 May 2024.
GPs in training
Again, from 7 August 2023, changes to the Skilled Worker route will allow workers who are sponsored for General Practitioner specialty training to be granted permission until four months (instead of the usual 14 days) after the end date of their Certificate of Sponsorship and to allow them to undertake supplementary employment during this period.
Health and care workers
There has been a concession in place in relation to supplementary work for those on a Health and Care Worker visa. Since February 2023, if their extra job is also eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa they can work as many hours as they like without updating their visa. From 27 August 2023, they will only be permitted to do up to 20 hours of additional paid work without updating their visa. The job will need to be either in the same occupation code and at the same level as their main job or in a shortage occupation.
For further guidance on any of the immigration changes that have been announced, please get in touch with our expert Immigration solicitors.