The Home Office published a statement of changes to the immigration rules (HC 617) in September, most of which took effect at various dates in October 2021. Below, we summarise some of the changes we think employers and applicants should be aware of.
Some of the Covid-19 concessions created since the pandemic are set to be added to the Immigration Rules. These include:
- Changes for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders whose businesses have been adversely affected by the pandemic. For example, if an employee has spent time on furlough, this will count towards the job creation requirement
- Changes to the EU settlement scheme rules. Essentially, if Covid-19 is the reason for not returning to the UK, the "continuous UK residence" requirement will not be broken meaning the applicant will still qualify for status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
- Changes to the settlement rules for those on the skilled worker or Tier 2 Sportsperson route. One such change is that applicants who successfully applied in the UK between January 2020 and June 2021 may include the time they were waiting for a decision towards the five years needed for settlement as a Skilled Worker or as a Tier 2 Sportsperson.
New International Sportsperson route
The current visas available for professional sports players (T2 and T5 Creative or Sporting Worker) are being replaced by the "International Sportsperson" visa.
This will continue to apply to athletes coming to the UK for 12 months or less, but the T5 label is being removed from the remaining temporary routes and rebranded.
Applicants will still need governing body endorsement, and those who want to stay for longer than a year must speak English to level A1.
Appendix Global Talent, the visa for people with "exceptional talent or exceptional promise" in various fields, is undergoing significant changes. Generally, to obtain this visa, the applicant must have an endorsement from a specific organisation in that field.
There have also been changes to the endorsement criteria which should make it easier to get Global Talent endorsements. These include allowing media coverage of the applicants' work as "a named member of a group" (as opposed to just individually) to be permissible evidence that they hold exceptional talent or promise, and the need for one example as opposed to two of exceptional promise in digital technology applications. There has also been an expansion in the list of "prestigious prizes" that allow applicants to apply without endorsement.
Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS): Iceland and India
The YMS offers young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from certain countries the opportunity to live in the UK for up to 2 years. From 1 January 2022, Iceland will be added to the list of participating countries and has been allocated 1000 visas; India will also be added and has been allocated 3000 visas. For Indian citizens the lottery-based "invitation to apply" system will apply.
YMS is set apart from other routes in that there is no need for employer sponsorship and there does not appear to be an English language requirement.
Changes to the visitor rules
The visitor rules are being updated to include concessions allowing students to come to the UK to carry out activities relating to the course they are on.
Skilled Worker route
A number of technical amendments are being made to the skilled worker route, although these will not change what we consider core areas of policy.
This material does not give a full statement of the law. It is intended for high level guidance only and is not a substitute for professional advice. No responsibility for any loss occasioned as a result of any person acting or refraining from acting can be accepted by Russell-Cooke LLP.
Contact our specialist immigration lawyers with any questions about the above statement of changes.