On 10 September 2021, the Home Office has published a statement reflecting the new immigration rule changes and guidance on current immigration rules. The statement includes information about changes spacing from Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concessions to guidance on Afghan Locally Employed Staff (LES) and the launch of new routes. Below is a summary of some major changes in layman's language.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
From 06 October 2021, foreign nationals who hold rights to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme can no longer rely on the COVID-19 concessions to justify an excess in their absence from the UK. This signifies that an absence over 6 months will be considered to break their period of continuous residence. Joining family members of a relevant sponsor are now allowed to apply for leave under EU Settlement Scheme if they entered the UK as a visitor and their visa expires on or before 30 December 2021. This includes applicants who entered the UK from 1 January to 30 June 2021 with six months’ visitor leave, and those who arrive after 30 June 2021 but whose visitor leave is of less than six months’ duration. It also includes applicants who make a late application, where there are reasonable grounds for them having missed the deadline if they are still visitors when they apply.
Skilled Worker route and Tier 2 Sportsperson route
Foreign nationals who applied for leave to remain as a Skilled worker between 24 January 2020 and 30 June 2021, and were permitted to start working for their sponsoring employer while waiting for a decision on their application, will be able to rely on the time they were waiting for a decision toward the five years requirement for settlement as a Skilled Worker or Tier 2 Sportsperson.
EEA nationals & ID verification
EEA nationals and eligible family members who were residing in the UK by the end of the transition period at 23:00 hrs on 31 December 2020, can continue to use their EEA National ID card to enter the UK until at least the end of 2025. This includes those nationals who have been issued with valid leave to enter / remain in the UK & Islands and those who have made an application for a right to remain but are waiting for a decision. British citizens of Gibraltar may continue to use their national identity card indefinitely to enter the UK. From 1 October 2021, all other individuals to whom the above do not apply must present a passport to demonstrate nationality and identity at the UK border. National ID cards will not be accepted.
Afghan Locally Employed Staff (LES)
Current and former Afghan LES and their family members who are outside Afghanistan, are now being permitted to relocate to the United Kingdom under the Afghan relocation and assistance policy and the ex-gratia scheme. Individuals who have been approved for relocation will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain rather than 5 years limited leave. Those individuals who have been initially given permission for limited leave can apply for Settlement under this new rule before their leave expires. The rule relating to minor children has been changed to reflect the age requirement to be met at the time of application rather than on 19 December 2012.
International Sportsperson route
The rebranded T2 and T5 Temporary Worker routes for professional sporting workers will be merged into a single dedicated category for professional sportspeople. The route will keep its eligibility requirements. The T5 Temporary Worker route for Creative workers is now a separate route under the immigration system.
Global Talent route
Foreign nationals who hold prestigious prizes will qualify for the route without requiring an endorsement from one of the Global Talent endorsing bodies. Specific guidance on eligible prizes has been provided in order to distinguish between awards
Youth Mobility Scheme
Iceland and India are being added to the UK Youth Mobility Scheme [former T5 (Temporary Worker) Youth Mobility Scheme]. The Youth Mobility Scheme is one of the friendlier parts of the Immigration Rules. The route is designed to enable young people to experience life in the UK. There is no requirement to have an employer to sponsor the visa or even for the applicant to intend to work in the UK, which makes it much more flexible than other routes. There will be 1,000 places for Iceland (population: 366,000) and 3,000 places for India (population: 1.4 billion). Indians interested in the visa will therefore enter a lottery (“invitation to apply arrangements”), like Japanese, Taiwanese, Hongkongers and South Koreans already do.
Permitted Activities for Visitors
Overseas students who are undertaking a distance learning course with a UK Institution will be allowed to undertake activities relating to their course while visiting the UK. Individuals studying nursing overseas at Degree Level can come to the UK as a visitor to undertake electives with a UK higher education provider (conditions apply)
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