Updates to UK Immigration Rules
There have been a few significant changes to the rules on immigration over the past couple of months. These are of particular importance to businesses looking to recruit from abroad.
Employers must remain aware to these updates to ensure that they avoid any penalties and potential claims against them.
Student-related Changes: From 17 July 2023, significant reforms have been introduced regarding students switching from student visas to work routes within the UK. There are also new restrictions on student dependants starting from 1 January 2024.
International students will only be able to switch to a work visa on completion of their studies. Students will be able to apply before the completion of their course, so long as their start date for their employment is after they have finished their course. If individuals are completing a PhD they will have to wait until they have been studying for two years before they are able to switch to the work route.
International students who begin courses from 1 January 2024 will be unable to bring their dependants with them to the UK. This will only be allowed if they are studying postgraduate research programmes.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS): Changes to the EUSS will take effect from September 2023. Individuals with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will automatically have their status extended by two years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status.
From 2024, the Home Office has also suggested that it will convert individuals with “pre-settled status” to “settled status” without requiring them to make an application. This is provided that they are eligible.
Skilled Worker Updates: The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) has been expanded, effective from 7 August 2023, to include several occupations in the construction and fishing industries.
These occupations will benefit from lower application fees and lower salary requirements in order to qualify for the visa.
Significant Fee Increases for Visa Applications
The Prime Minister has announced substantial hikes in visa application fees and the immigration health surcharge. The current fees for work visas are projected to rise by approximately 15%. However, the exact date for this increase remains unconfirmed.
Immigration Health Surcharge
This fee, charged in addition to the visa application fee, grants the employee access to the NHS during their stay in the UK. The immigration health surcharge is expected to jump from £624 to £1,035 annually. The date of the announcement is to be confirmed.
If you have any concerns related to these updates, please contact our Business Immigration team. Additionally, join us for our in-person seminars in Cardiff on on 21 September and Derby 26 September, where we’ll discuss recent changes to employment law and delve into the advantages and challenges of artificial intelligence.