New Statement of Changes
in Immigration Rules

On 7 September 2023, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, setting out a number of amendments that are being introduced this autumn.

The changes being made primarily relate to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme. The latest statement also makes a series of minor policy or technical changes to the Rules which will affect a range of visa categories including the Skilled Worker, Student, Graduate and Global Talent routes.

The majority of the changes take effect on 5 October 2023, with some changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme only becoming effective from 31 January 2024.

Smith Stone Walters will revisit some of these topics in more detail in future articles. In the meantime, we set out the highlights from the statement below.

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permits

The Home Office is making certain changes to the EUSS, which enables EU, other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens living in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to obtain immigration status.

The changes remove the right of administrative review for all decision types where it currently applies for the EUSS, the EUSS family permit and the S2 Healthcare Visitor visa. The right of appeal against those decisions will be maintained. This is to allow the government to meet its obligations under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (CRAs), which require that the UK provides judicial redress for decisions to refuse or remove status under the EUSS. The changes will apply to all relevant decisions made on or after 5 October 2023.

Some minor technical amendments are also being made to the Immigration Rules for the EUSS in Appendix EU to clarify the existing policy position that where a dependent parent or child has already been granted limited leave under Appendix EU, they will not need to evidence dependency for any further applications under Appendix EU.

Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation

The UK will launch an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme in October 2023 in a phased manner on a nationality basis. The ETA scheme will ultimately apply to all those passengers visiting the UK or transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays and do not have any other immigration status before travelling.

At present, Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation states than an application for an ETA may be refused if an applicant has failed to pay relevant NHS charges with a total value of at least £500. The statement of changes removes NHS debt as a ground for refusal of an ETA application.

However, a successful ETA application does not guarantee that an applicant will be granted permission to enter at the UK border. Therefore, travellers seeking permission to enter the UK who have outstanding NHS debts, and who do not take the necessary steps to settle their debts in advance of travel, may be refused entry at the UK border on arrival.

At present, Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation stipulates that an applicant who is lawfully resident in Ireland and is travelling to the UK from elsewhere in the Common Travel Area (CTA) does not need to obtain an ETA.

The statement of changes clarifies that the ETA exemption for applicants lawfully resident in Ireland, who are travelling within the CTA, will require a person aged 16 or over to demonstrate residency in Ireland, if required by a UK official, in order to benefit from this exemption. On 20 July 2023, the Home Office published guidance detailing which documents can be used to demonstrate residency for the purpose of this exemption, including a Permanent Residence Certificate, European Health Insurance Card, Irish driving licence/learner permit, medical card and GP visit card, National Age card and Irish Residence Permit.

Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)

The UK’s existing reciprocal, bilateral arrangements with Australia and Canada have been enhanced – the age range is being expanded from 18-30 to 18-35 and the length of stay is being increased from 2 to 3 years. The Rules changes bring these enhancements into effect.

A minor technical edit is also being made to clarify the limitations on self- employment on this route.

The UK has also negotiated a YMS arrangement with Andorra. Therefore it will be added to the list of countries and territories participating in this route and the Rules will be amended to reflect the requirements for Andorran citizens coming to the UK.

Changes to the long residence rules

In April 2023 the definition of ‘lawful residence’ for the purposes of long residence was changed to exclude time spent on immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student, or seasonal worker.

The rules are being changed to clarify that this exclusion extends to time spent on previous versions of immigration bail (temporary admission and temporary release) and previous visitor, short-term student visa, or seasonal worker routes.

Appendix Children

The government is introducing an Appendix Children that will include common requirements for both children applying as dependants of a lead applicant, and children applying in their own right.

Common requirements for dependent children relate to age, independent life, care, and relationship requirements. A common parental consent requirement will apply where a child is applying for entry clearance or permission to stay in their own right. No policy changes have been made to these requirements, but this approach will provide clarity and consistency.

Appendix Children will initially apply to over 20 routes from 5 October, and it will be extended to further routes in the future.

Appendix English Language

Appendix English Language is being updated to allow an applicant in an additional six routes to demonstrate they meet the English Language requirement if they have a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification at level 4 or 5 or Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English.

The six additional routes are Appendix Representative of an Overseas Business, Appendix T2 Minister of Religion, Appendix UK Ancestry, Appendix Global Talent, Appendix Domestic Workers in a Private Household and Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas).

Gurkhas and Hong Kong Military Units

The 2009 concession enabling settlement applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas will be brought into the Rules and at the same time extended to cover pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units, and their families, as announced in March 2023.

In March, the Government announced that it intended to enable former members of Hong Kong military units discharged before 1 July 1997 to settle in the UK. This will be done by extending the provisions of the settlement concession that already exists for former Gurkhas and their families to Hong Kong military unit veterans and their families; bringing both cohorts under the Rules provides greater transparency on these routes.

Skilled Worker route

Prison service officers are being made eligible for the Skilled Worker route. This occupation meets the skills threshold, and workers can be sponsored where the Civil Service nationality requirements are met.

Find out more

Further minor policy and technical changes are also being introduced, as described in the explanatory memorandum. The latest Statement of Changes can be accessed in full here.

If you have any questions on any of the above changes, or if you wish to discuss a specific immigration query, Smith Stone Walters can help. To speak to a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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