New statement of changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1248 - changes take effect on 6 April 2021

The Home Office published a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules today. It is 108 pages long and the changes take effect on 6 April 2021 unless otherwise specified. Most relate to the work and study routes branded as the Points Based Immigration System, although there are various tweaks to other parts of the Rules as well.

The new Graduate visa

There is a new section of the Rules called Appendix Graduate. This says, among other things, that someone applying for permission to remain in the UK must be here already on a Student visa. The conceit that the UK operates a proper points-based immigration system is taken to absurd lengths: Graduate visa applicants must score 70 entirely notional points, accrued by being eligible for the visa. The eligibility criteria are:

  1. Successfully completing their studies as a Student as an institution with a “track record of compliance”.
  2. Getting a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or certain professional qualifications like the LPC for lawyers or PGCE for teachers.
  3. Being actually in the UK for a minimum length of time, depending on the duration of the course and subject to exceptions for distance learning between January 2020 and September 2021 (a nod to coronavirus).

PhDs and other doctoral graduates get three years’ of permission to stay on a Graduate visa; all other grads get two years. All kinds of work, at any skill level, is permitted (apart from being a professional sportsperson). This means that Graduate visa holders will potentially become an important pool of labour for employers unable to sponsor Skilled Workers: those hiring them will not need a sponsor licence.

The same restrictions on dependants apply as for the Student route: only partners and children already in the UK as Student dependants qualify.

These changes will take effect on 1 July 2021.

Minimum hourly salary for Skilled Workers

The minimum salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route need to be worked out by the hour, not just annually. Minimum pay can be no less than £10.10 an hour, even if the annual salary is above £25,600 a year (or the lower annual thresholds for new entrants, shortage jobs and people with PhDs). So for example, paragraph SW 8.2 will now say:

SW 8.2. The salary for the job for which the applicant is being sponsored must equal or exceed all of the following:

(a) £25,600 per year; and

(b) £10.10 per hour; and

(c) the going rate for the occupation code.

Point (b) is new. The explanatory memo says that “the purpose of this change is to safeguard against sponsors requiring their employees to work long hours, to compensate for lower pay rates in meeting the minimum salary floor”.

Other changes: Sponsors of Skilled Workers who think that the worker now qualifies for one of the lower salary thresholds (e.g. if the person has somehow acquired a PhD since starting the job) and wants to reduce their pay to that lower threshold will have to submit a fresh application to the Home Office.

To the profound relief of the fishing industry, experienced deckhands on large fishing vessels can now be sponsored as Skilled Workers. So too vent chicken sexers, doubtless to the relief also of that industry, although perhaps not to the chickens.

Changes to Global Talent: glittering prizes

Getting a Global Talent visa normally requires an endorsement by an organisation in the UK, testifying to one’s talent. There will now be a list of “prestigious prizes”, the winning of which will qualify you for a Global Talent visa without the need for an endorsement. These include Nobel Prizes, Oscars, Golden Globes, Tony Awards and of course the Hugo Boss Prize. The full list is in a new Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes. This kicks in from 5 May.

Other work routes

The temporary Creative or Sporting Worker route is being adjusted. In the words of the explanatory memo:

Under the current system, any migrant working in the UK within the creative sector, must have no more than 14 days between paid engagements. The new Rules allow migrants and their sponsors to ‘stop the clock’ by only counting time spent within the UK. This arrangement will better reflect the working-practices of the creative sector.

The Youth Mobility Scheme allocations for 2021 have been decided:

  • Australia – 30,000 places (no change)
  • New Zealand – 13,000 places (n/c)
  • Canada – 6,000 places (+1,000)
  • Japan – 1,500 places (+500)
  • Monaco – 1,000 places (n/c)
  • Taiwan – 1,000 places (n/c)
  • Hong Kong – 1,000 places (n/c)
  • South Korea – 1,000 places (n/c)
  • San Marino – 1,000 places (n/c)

Hong Kong BNO visa

Those on the new Hong Kong visa for British National (Overseas) citizens and their families cannot access public funds in the UK. The statement of changes softens this: it will now be possible to apply for a change of conditions if destitute or at imminent risk of destitution.

Selected other changes

Postgraduate students taking “integrated” courses that involve getting a lower-level qualification before then progressing to a higher qualification will not fall foul of the academic progress rule if they only complete the lower-level bit. This applies from 1 July.

Parents of a Child Student applicants can meet the financial requirement by relying on funds held by their partner.

Applicants for a family visa extension now meet the English language requirement “if they have already shown they met the requirement in this manner at the level required for their current application, in a previous successful application for entry clearance or permission to stay”.

Posted in English on Mar 04, 2021.