News & Insights

Changes to the Immigration Rules July 2023

On 17 July, the Government published the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules. This statement makes several changes effective from various dates throughout the summer. A further statement was made on 19 July, affecting the visa national list.

Changes Affecting International Students

International students face significant changes to visa conditions.

For courses starting on or after 1 January 2024, international students will not be permitted to bring dependents unless the course is a PhD, other doctoral qualification or a research-based higher degree.

They can no longer apply for permission to stay as a dependent in a work route, as a dependent under the UK Ancestry route, or as a dependent under any of the Temporary Worker routes (such as Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, International Agreement or Government Authorised Exchange).

Additionally, they cannot switch into work routes before their studies have completed. Students who are undertaking a course at degree level or above can apply for their work visa before their course finishes provided they do not start until after their course is completed.  PhD students can switch to a work visa after completing 24 months of study.

Despite these changes, it has been made clear that any application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain, made before 17 July 2023, will be decided in accordance with the old rules in place.

Skilled Worker Changes

From 7 August 2023, workers who are sponsored for GP specialty training will be granted permission up to 4 months (instead of just the 14 days) after the end of their Certificate of Sponsorship. They will also be allowed to undertake supplementary employment during this time.

Changes to Working Routes

A number of changes affecting working routes to take effect from 7 August 2023:

  • A specific genuineness requirement will apply to the Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker, Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, Secondment Worker, Scale-Up Worker) and Scale-up routes..
  • Service Providers from Switzerland will no longer require reference to compliance with the National Minimum Wage Regulations or the Working Time Regulations.
  • Hourly rate and salary for certain individuals using the seasonal worker route.
  • New Zealand nationals who are in the UK with a valid Youth Mobility Scheme visa and are applying for the 1-year extension can receive a total of 3 continuous years’ leave including the original permission to enter.
  • A letter of endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing Body in support of an application (under the same business criteria) will be considered where the applicant previously had permission under the start-up route for the Innovator Founder route.
  • To allow the Diplomatic Missions Interns Scheme to accommodate the EU Delegation to the UK in the Government Authorised Exchange scheme.
  • Changes to the Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) and Appendix Private Life public funds conditions.
  • Correct the Home Office’s error in excluding the partner of an applicant (where the partner and the applicant are the parents or grandparents of the sponsor) in Appendix Adult Dependent Relative.
  • Correction to the transitional provisions for Appendix Child staying with or joining a Non-Parent Relative (Protection), with effect from 12 April 2023. These apply retrospectively to applications made before this.

From 9 August 2023, the following changes will be made to Appendix EU and Appendix EU (Family Permit):

  • The deadline for the application will become a validity requirement as opposed to an eligibility requirement. This will allow the Secretary of State to determine if there are reasonable grounds for a late application.
  • Illegal entrants will not be able to make a valid application to the EUSS as a joining family member.
  • Those with pre-settled status under the EUSS will automatically have their status extended by 2 years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status.
  • From 8 August, the Surinder Singh route and the Zambrano route will be closed, although those already on them or have pending access may continue.
  • Dependent relatives will include ‘the child of a durable partner where the child has turned 18 since, they were granted pre-settled status under the EUSS.

Changes to the Shortage Occupation List

Effective from 7 August, to reflect the recent recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee. The following roles will be included in the Shortage Occupation List.

  • Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified
  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified
  • Plasterers

Asylum Seekers – Differentiation Policy Paused

The differentiation policy has been paused, with effect from 17 July 2023.

From 7 August 2023, the rule on withdrawing asylum claims will be replaced, with new bases for withdrawal, including a declaration for withdrawal, or implicit withdrawal by failing to maintain contact with the Home Office, leaving the UK without authorization prior to a conclusion of their application, failure to complete required forms and attend required events. This provides greater flexibility for explicit withdrawals, but the burden is on the applicant to remain proactive (such as providing the correct contact details) and follow the rules and requirements of the Home Office.

Ukrainian Extension Scheme

From 7 August 2023, the Ukraine Extension Scheme will be extended 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. The deadline will be extended to 16 May 2024.

Changes to the Visa National List

From 19 July, the following countries will be added to the visa national list:

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

There will be a transition period for these countries, and if an application for entry clearance, leave to enter or remain has been made before 19 July 2023, such applications will be determined using the rules in force on 18 July 2023.

However, there is a provision allowing nationals of the affected countries who have booked travel to the UK prior to these changes to enter as a visitor, without a visa, until 16 August 2023. This provision cannot be used where the individual is travelling for marriage/civil partnership, or to give notice as such, unless they are a ‘relevant national’ or planning to visit the UK for more than 6 months.

FSP can advise you on all aspects of immigration and keep you up to date with the latest developments from the Home Office.

If you require assistance with an immigration matter, please get in touch at [email protected].