Two new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules have been published this week by the Home Office. The 36-page HC 1496 document published on Monday 17th July 2023 was swiftly followed two days later by HC 1715 that introduced changes to the Appendix Visitor: Visa national list.

HC 1496 sets out some significant amendments to the EU Settlement Scheme, the Student route and the Skilled Worker route. A further extension of the Ukraine Extension Scheme has also been announced alongside updates to the Shortage Occupation List.

Some of these changes came into immediate force with others being implemented from 7 August 2023. The full statement can be accessed here.

Smith Stone Walters will revisit some of these changes in more depth in future articles. To begin with, below is a summary of some of the key changes.

Changes to the Skilled Worker route

Following recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the following occupations are to be added to the list:

  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified
  • Plasterers (Dryliners)
  • Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified (only jobs in the fishing industry)
  • Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified (Deckhands on large fishing vessels)

For consistency with Temporary Work routes, a specific requirement is also being added that applicants must genuinely intend to undertake their sponsored job, and not intend to work in breach of their conditions. It remains to be seen how this condition will be monitored by the Home Office.

Student route

In line with the Government’s commitment to reduce migration numbers, international students will be prevented from bringing dependants to the UK unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes.

Switching restrictions have also been tightened in this round of changes with international students being prevented from switching into work routes before their studies have been completed. The Explanatory Memorandum states: ‘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.’

Extension of the Ukraine Extension Scheme

The update introduced to this scheme allows any Ukrainian nationals who held permission to enter or stay in the UK between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023 to apply and obtain a 36 month permission to stay in the UK.

Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme

A key change within the Statement of Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme centres on the Home Office’s intention to automatically extend the status of people holding pre-settled status by a further two years – if they have not yet obtained settled status.

Further automatic processing will also see the Home Office convert eligible pre-settled holders to settled status without the need to make an application.

‘During 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK.’

It should also be noted that the Surinder Singh and Zambrano routes (immigration schemes intended to protect the rights of EU and EEA citizens who were living in the UK prior to the end of free movement) will be closed from 8 August 2023 for new applications.

Nationalities Added to the Visa National List

Under the latest Statement of Changes (HC 1715), the following nationalities have been added to the visa national list:

  • Dominica
  • Honduras
  • Namibia
  • Timor-Leste
  • Vanuatu

A provision will allow nationals of the above-mentioned countries who have booked travel to the UK prior to this rule change coming into effect to enter as a visitor without a visa for a period of 4 weeks from 19 July 2023.

Call on us!

If you need advice or support in interpreting the immigration rule changes, Smith Stone Walters is on hand to help.

Our expert immigration consultants will guide you and your business through everything you need to know to ensure you remain compliant under the new rules. To speak to an advisor, please contact us today.

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