13/09/2023

Another day, Another Change to the Immigration Rules

A new Statement of Changes has been published by the Immigration Minister. Many of the changes are either minor or technical drafting changes. Alex Christen and Nina Holmes have summarised below a list of the principal changes that may impact you or your business. Many of these changes are due to take effect on 5 October 2023, with the Youth Mobility Scheme changes taking effect from 31 January 2024.

Youth Mobility Scheme 

  • The UK’s existing reciprocal, bilateral arrangements with Australia and Canada have been enhanced with the age range expanding from 18-30 to 18-35. The length of stay is also being increased from 2 years to 3 years.  
  • Andorra is being added to the list of countries participating in the scheme.  

These changes make it easier for employers to employ young people from these countries without having to sponsor them, making their employment more cost-effective and easier. 

Skilled Workers

  • Prison officers are being made eligible for the Skilled Worker route and will be added to the list of eligible occupation codes. This will be welcome news for the prison service, allowing them to recruit from overseas. 

Electronic Travel Authorisation (‘ETA’) 

  • Currently, the Immigration Rules state that an application for an ETA may be refused if an applicant has failed to pay charges under relevant NHS regulations on charges to overseas visitors and the outstanding charges have a total value of at least £500. This policy change will remove NHS debt as a ground for refusal of an ETA application on the basis that the current systems are not capable of processing information on NHS debt quickly enough to deliver an ETA decision at the required speed. However, a successful ETA application does not guarantee that the applicant will be granted permission to enter at the UK border. As such, 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. 
  • Currently, applicants who are lawfully resident in Ireland and are travelling to the UK from elsewhere in the Common Travel Area (CTA) do not need to obtain an ETA. This policy change will clarify that this ETA exemption will require a person aged 16 or over to demonstrate their residency in Ireland (if required by a UK official) in order to benefit from the exemption.   See our previous blog on this topic here.

Employers should familiarise themselves with the ETA requirements before receiving overseas visitors. 

EU Settlement Scheme  

  • Previously, administrative reviews could be requested if a decision was made in error, for example where an applicant is granted pre-settled status but they believe they qualify for settled status. This is being removed from 5 October 2023, meaning there will be no option to apply for an administrative review for decisions made under the EU Settlement Scheme, the EU Settlement Scheme family permit and the Healthcare Visitor visa.  

Employers need to be aware of the impact this may have on existing employees’ right to work.  

Student and graduate routes 

  • Where an applicant has held permission which relied on a scholarship or sponsorship by a government or an international scholarship agency, they must obtain consent from that government or agency to extend their permission. 

Public funds

  • A person with a condition on their permission which says that they cannot access public funds (‘NRPF-NO RECOURSE TO PUBLIC FUNDS’) is restricted from accessing the benefits included in this list. The amendments to this list will include new Social Security Scotland benefits and clarify existing DWP and DLUHC benefits.  

For a full review of the recent changes, please click here 

If you would like to discuss these changes or require bespoke immigration advice, get in touch with our team of expert immigration lawyers.