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UNITED KINGDOM - Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules

The Home Office has published the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.

The changes include:

  • Removing PhD level occupations from the Tier 2 (General) cap, and changes to the Tier 2 (General) Shortage Occupation List (SOL);
  • Revised provisions for access to the EU Settlement Scheme for family members of UK nationals returning from a European Economic Area (EEA) member state or Switzerland, and some other minor changes to the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • Exempting medical professionals who have already passed an English language test from sitting another test before entry on a Tier 2 visa.

Tier 2 (General)

Effective 6 October 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempted from the Tier 2 (General) annual cap of 20,700 places.

Also effective 6 October 2019, the SOL is being amended following a review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee published 29 May 2019. There is one list covering the whole of the UK and an additional list for Scotland.

The SOL means that:

(i) listed jobs are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirement and are given higher priority within the Tier 2 (General) annual limit; and,

(ii) jobholders whose occupations are on the list are exempt from the relevant Tier 2 earnings threshold when they apply for indefinite leave to remain, although they must still be paid the appropriate rate for the occupation.

The changes to the SOL include:

  • Some new occupations have been added, such as biological scientists and biochemists, and veterinarians, and a small number removed, such as production manager and directors in mining and energy;
  • A significant number of Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes already on the SOL but only for limited types of jobs, have been extended to cover all jobs in that occupation code;
  • The qualifying company criteria applying to digitech occupations has been amended/removed; and,
  • The restriction preventing chefs from working for a sponsor that provides a takeaway service has been removed.

EU Settlement Scheme

Effective 1 October 2019, in line with an announcement in April 2019, close family members (where the relationship existed on Brexit day) of UK nationals returning with them from the EEA or Switzerland, having lived there together while the UK national exercised their free movement rights, will be able to access the EU Settlement Scheme until 29 March 2022 in both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios.

Future spouses, civil partners and durable partners (where the relationship was established after Brexit day), and other dependent relatives of UK nationals, returning with them from the EEA or Switzerland, having lived there together while the UK national exercised their free movement rights, will be able to access the EU Settlement Scheme until 31 December 2020 in both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios.

Medical Professionals

Effective 1 October 2019, an amendment is being made to exempt doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives, when making a Tier 2 (General) application, from having to sit an approved English Language Test if they have already passed an English test accepted by the relevant professional regulatory body.

A corresponding amendment is also being made to provide that Tier 2 doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives who have passed such a test are treated as having demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language for the purpose of settlement.

Action Items

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.