The UK government has announced a number of changes to its immigration rules, which will come into effect on April 12 and 13, 2023. The most significant changes include:
- The introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme for non-visa nationals who wish to visit or transit through the UK.
- The amalgamation of the Innovator and Start-up routes into a new Innovator Founder route, which will remove the £50,000 minimum funds requirement and relax existing restrictions on engaging in secondary employment.
- Changes to the Skilled Worker route, including new minimum salary thresholds and clarification on how wages are calculated for those working shift patterns or irregular hours.
- Changes to the Global Talent visa, including clarification of the process by which subject-matter expert endorsing bodies will consider applications.
- Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS), including an extension of the age range and length of stay for New Zealand nationals increasing to 35 years of age and for a three year visa term.
- Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permit, including clarification on durable partners.
- Changes to the definition of lawful and continuous residence to obtain settlement through long residence.
- Changes to the process by which returning residents may return to the UK.
These changes are likely to have a significant impact on businesses and individuals who are considering moving to or working in the UK. If you are affected by these changes, you should seek professional advice to understand how they will apply to you.
Here are some additional details about the changes:
- The ETA scheme will require non-visa nationals who wish to visit or transit through the UK to apply for and be granted electronic permission before travel. The scheme will not apply to British and Irish nationals.
- The Innovator Founder route will replace the existing Innovator and Start-up routes. The new route will remove the £50,000 minimum funds requirement and relax existing restrictions on engaging in secondary employment.
- The minimum salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route will increase to £26,200 per year for general applicants, £23,580 per year for applicants with a relevant PhD, and £20,960 per year for applicants with a PhD in a STEM subject area. The hourly rates across all categories will also increase to £10.75 per hour.
- The Global Talent visa will see changes to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements, as well as clarification of the consideration processes for applications.
- The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) will see an extension of the age range and length of stay for New Zealand nationals. The age range will increase from 18 to 35 years old, and the length of stay will increase from two to three years.
- The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will see changes to the definition of durable partners. The Explanatory Memorandum to the Statement of Changes HC 1160 notes that ‘the original policy intent under the EUSS [entails]… that it is only where they had another lawful basis of stay in the UK before the end of the transition period that a durable partner who was not documented as such under the EEA Regulations can rely on that residence.’
- The definition of lawful and continuous residence to obtain settlement through long residence will be clarified. Time in the UK on immigration bail, as a visitor, as a short-term student and on Seasonal Worker routes will not count towards this route.
- The process by which returning residents may return to the UK will be amended. Migrants who previously obtained settlement in the UK but then left the country for two years or more may apply to reinstate rights of permanent residence even when applicants have returned as a visitor. However, applicants must submit such applications from outside the United Kingdom.