Statement of Changes
in Immigration Rules

On 10 September 2021, the Home Office published a new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules document, outlining upcoming amendments to the rules regulating people’s entry and stay in the UK.

The 183-page document sets out changes that are set to be introduced in a number of areas, most of which will come into effect on 6 October 2021.

Among the amendments are new rules for proving identity and nationality at the UK border, adjustments to the eligibility criteria of certain visa categories and the addition of some COVID-19 concessions into the Rules. Below, we highlight the main changes which employers and visa applicants should take note of.

COVID-19 concessions

Since the pandemic outbreak, the Home Office has introduced a range of concessions for migrants who have been impacted by COVID-19. The Statement of Changes confirms that some of these concessions will now be included in the Immigration Rules rather than remaining as guidance.

The concessions relate to:

  • Settlement rules for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders whose businesses have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.
  • Changes to Appendix EU concerning COVID-19 related absences from the UK for people with EU pre-settled status.
  • Settlement rules for those on Skilled Worker and Tier 2 Sportsperson routes who began working before their visa was granted.

More information on the concessions can be viewed in the full Statement of Changes, available here.

Entry rules for EEA citizens from 1 October

From 1 October 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will no longer be able to use their national identity cards as a valid travel document, and instead those seeking to enter the UK will need to show a passport to demonstrate nationality and identity at the UK border.

However, EEA citizens who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can continue to use their EEA national identity card to enter the UK until at least the end of 2025.

Launch of the new International Sportsperson route

Currently, there are two visa categories which cater to professional sportspeople: The T2 Sportsperson and the T5 Creative or Sporting Worker. From 10 October 2021, the new International Sportsperson route will replace both of these routes for professional sporting workers with simplified, dedicated visa arrangements.

The new route will continue to offer a dedicated option for anyone wishing to come to the UK for 12 months or less, but bringing together the T2 and T5 offers into one category will make it simpler and more straightforward for professional sportspeople and their sponsors to access.

Like the previous routes, applicants will need to secure an endorsement from a Sports Governing Body and will require a Certificate of Sponsorship from a club. In line with other immigration routes, the International Sportsperson route will be points-based and applicants will need to demonstrate English language ability if they wish to stay for longer than 12 months.

Furthermore, the Tier 5 Temporary Worker routes are being rebranded with the launch of new application forms, and all references to the old T5 system will be removed. The separation of the old T5 Creative and Sporting Worker route will deliver a new Temporary Work – Creative Worker visa, which recognizes the unique requirements of the sector.

The Global Talent route

The Statement outlines several upcoming changes being applied to the Global Talent route, the UK’s immigration category for ‘talented and promising’ individuals in the fields of science, digital technology and arts and culture wishing to work in the UK.

Under the Global Talent route, applicants must usually be endorsed by a recognised UK body approved by the Home Office, who will verify the applicant’s expertise.

Following feedback from the endorsing bodies, the Home Office is making changes to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements to make it easier for applicants to secure an endorsement. The changes being made under each category are as follows:

  • Arts and culture: Changes to the endorsement criteria under this category will make it easier for applicants to qualify using evidence of their activities as a named member of a group (such as an internationally recognised orchestra or dance troupe), rather than individually.
  • Digital technology: Evidential requirements for digital technology endorsements are being amended to allow applicants to submit just one example of ‘exceptional promise’ rather than two.
  • Science, engineering, humanities and medicine: The eligibility period for the fellowship fast-track pathway following the completion of an approved fellowship or award will be extended from 12 months to five years, allowing more applicants to qualify under this category.

Under the Global Talent route, individuals can apply without an endorsement if they have won a  ‘highly prestigious’ award or prize, such as a Nobel Prize, an Oscar or a Golden Globe. Adjustments are also being made to this Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes route to expand the list of qualifying prizes and to provide greater clarity. A full list of eligible prizes can be found on page 63 of the Statement.

EUSS family permits

The EUSS family permit enables certain family members of EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status to travel to the UK.

The rules surrounding EUSS family permits are being changed as follows:

  • To allow a joining family member to apply to the EUSS whilst in the UK as a visitor. From 6 October 2021, the temporary concession to this effect outside Appendix EU where certain joining family members are concerned, as currently set out in the EUSS caseworker guidance, will cease to operate.
  • Technical changes to reflect the passing of the 30 June 2021 deadline for applications to the EUSS (though a late application can still be made where there are reasonable grounds for missing the deadline).
  • Technical changes to reflect the fact that a person who is exempt from immigration control can, if they wish, apply to the EUSS whilst they remain exempt, or they can apply once they have ceased to be exempt.

Youth Mobility Scheme

The Youth Mobility Scheme is a temporary immigration route which exists to provide young people aged between 18 and 30 from participating countries with an opportunity to experience life in the UK for up to two years.

The Statement of Changes includes the following adjustments to the Youth Mobility Scheme:

  • Rebranding of the route from T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme to Youth Mobility Scheme
  • Iceland is being added to the list of eligible countries with an allocation of 1,000 places.
  • India is being added to the list of eligible countries with an allocation of 3,000 places. Invitation to apply arrangements will apply when allocating the places available for use by Indian nationals.
  • Updating to allow citizens and nationals or the rightful holder of a passport issued by a territory without Deemed Sponsorship Status to apply for this route from any post that accepts such applications worldwide.

These changes will not come into effect until 1 January 2022.

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Smith Stone Walters will provide further updates on the above changes as more information becomes available.

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