UK immigration rules: Here’s official statement of changes and how new amendments can impact you

LONDON – The UK Government has published its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which are sure to impact many aspirants in future.

The changes being implemented were expected in November last year, but reshuffles in Home Office appointments delayed the process; however, the changes have now been announced.

Although the 185-page document covers broad range of areas, the changes which will affect most of the migrants include the formal introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (‘ETA’) scheme into the Rules which will be effective from 12 April 2023.

There has been a change in the gross annual minimum salary thresholds for sponsored workers assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship on or after 12 April 2023 and it has been increased from £25,600 to £26,200 for Skilled Workers and has swelled from £42,400 to £45,800 for Senior/ Specialist Workers.

The government has also made modification of the ‘going rates’ for multiple occupation types, including the calculation for pro-rating salaries on the same lines as contractual hours on or after 12 April 2023. Moreover, Innovator route would now be ‘Innovator Founder’ and removal of the £50,000 capital requirement has also been made.

Here’s What Has Changed

First and foremost, as far as Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETA) is concerned, its aim is to secure the UK’s borders. The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme  would ensure that those who wish to travel to the UK have a permission to do so prior to travelling to the United Kingdom.

ETA will be a must for visitors, short term students and sponsored Creative Workers classified as ‘non-visa nationals’; earlier, visitors had been able to seek permission for up to three months on arrival in the UK.

The rules governing ETA’s operation and function in border control will be implemented from 12 April 2023 for individuals participating in private pilots and will be fully implemented in phases as under: 

  • From 15 November 2023, Qatari citizens not having a valid UK visa will require valid ETA prior to travelling to the UK
  • From 15 February 2024, this will be extended to citizens of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates
  • Extension of ETA requirements to all other nationalities to be rolled out in two further phases by Autumn 2024.

It is to be mentioned that individuals can apply for ETA online or using a dedicated app on which a decision should be expected within three working days. An ETA will be issued electronically and linked to the passport. The ETA application fee is yet to be announced and if an individual is refused ETA, they will need to apply for a visa in the category appropriate to their stay instead.

Another major change is regarding Innovator Founder route. Previously, the Innovator route was introduced in March 2019 to replace Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.

Under the original Innovator criteria, individuals with £50,000 in capital to invest in their own new ‘viable, scalable, innovative’ business in the UK could apply to Home Office approved third party ‘endorsing bodies’ for endorsement of their business and credentials, and once secured, they could apply for an Innovator visa.

As far as fresh amendments are concerned, the latest Statement of Changes renames Innovator as ‘Innovator Founder’ and implements the following changes:

  • It removes the £50,000 capital requirement for initial eligibility (noting investment of this sum is one of the eventual settlement criteria)
  • For the first time, permits ‘secondary’ employment (in a business other than the endorsed business for which they hold the Innovator visa) where the additional work is skilled to at least RQF Level 3 (A level/ secondary school leaver or above) 
  • Allows use of a dedicated Home Office app to complete biometric enrolment

If an individual is on a current Innovator visa, Start Up visa or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), extensions or switching into this route will be allowed. It is to be highlighted as well that settlement is also available after three years on an Innovator Founder visa subject to the conditions that settlement requirements are also met. These changes will be implemented on Thursday 13 April 2023.

The other changes include salary thresholds for sponsored work routes which have been increased and ‘going rates’ for individual occupations are being updated based on the latest available UK salary data’ this is being dene to bring them at par with the rising cost of living in the UK.

For individuals sponsored from 12 April 2023, the minimum gross annual salary threshold for a Skilled Worker visa will be £26,200 and for Global Mobility Senior and Specialist Workers will be £45,800.

Besides, the minimum going rates for each occupation type are being changed as well, with the minimum possible hourly salary being increased to £10.75 per hour (this currently stands at £10.10) and annualised going rates being recalibrated to a 37.5 hour working week (currently 39 hours), implying that previous calculations for pro-rating salaries based on contractual hours must be changed to confirm a role’s suitability for sponsorship.

Moreover, the updates also allow workers following working shift patterns or irregular hours each week to have their average hours over a maximum 17 week work cycle accepted towards meeting the minimum salary requirements. It must be kept in mind that these changes relate to Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility (‘GBM’), Scale-Up and Seasonal Worker routes.

Changes for Australians

Australian nationals applying under the GBM UK Expansion Worker route will not need to prove that they have worked for their employer for 12 months prior to the application to facilitate international trade between the UK and Australia

Changes for New Zealand

Under a bilateral arrangement, citizens of New Zealand are now eligible to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme until age 35 (previously restricted to applicants aged 18-30) and the length of stay has been increased from 2 to 3 years.

Global Talent Visa 

Global Talent visas permit an individual to work in the UK if they are a leader or potential leader in academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology.

As far as this visa type is concerned, changes are being introduced to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements. Moreover, time spent in the UK with permission as a Representative of an Overseas Business may be added as part of the continuous residence period for Global Talent settlement applications.

As far as Employment continuity is concerned, attending court as a witness and jury service are being added to the list of reasons where absence from employment is allowed when considerations about employment continuity are made, for example in settlement applications.

Moreover, applicants in certain sponsored routes may change occupation code as part of a graduate training programme. All of these amendments would be in place from April 12, 2023, Mondaq reported.

New Child joining a Non-Parent Relative (Protection) category

As part of the changes announced on March 9th, a new Child joining a Non-Parent Relative (Protection) category is being introduced and replaces the existing clauses for children of a relatives in the UK as a refugee or beneficiary of humanitarian protection.

Adult Dependent Relative (ADR)

The Statement of Changes now enables an applicant to be granted immediate settlement, where their sponsor is a British Citizen or settled in the UK.

The ADR route had been vetted tough by Home Office with its strict interpretations of whether the applicant can afford or access suitable professional care in their home country or not. Time will tell whether this expansion of the category to allow immediate settlement for successful dependents of British and settled individuals will be reflected in a more liberal approach to being cared for by relatives in the UK in the grant of more applications.

The UK authorities have confirmed that the extent of immigration changes applies to all of the United

Kingdom and are a further step in implementing the Law Commission recommendations on simplifying the Immigration Rules.