Statement of changes of the immigration rules HC 1496

On 17 July 2023, a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was published. As usual, it is accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum. Also as usual, it is largely concerned with cracking down on those perceived as abusing immigration law. There are, though, one or two positive changes.

EU Settlement Scheme

There are two significant changes to the validity requirements of the EU Settlement Scheme. Firstly, the obligation to demonstrate reasonable grounds for applying after the deadline (30 June 2021). This means that where the Secretary of State considers there are no reasonable grounds for the delay, the application will be rejected with no right of appeal or administrative review.

Secondly, an in-country application made after 9 August 2023 as a ‘joining family member’ can now be rejected as invalid if the applicant is an illegal entrant. A ‘joining family member’ is, roughly speaking, the family member of an EU national who wasn’t resident in the UK on that basis before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020). This change to the validity requirements means it won’t be possible for someone in this position to circumvent the requirement for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit by entering illegally and then applying for leave to remain.

More positively, the definition of ‘dependent relative’ under Appendix EU is amended to provide for the adult child of a durable partner. They will now continue to qualify if previously granted leave in this capacity when under 18.

The final change to EU Settlement Scheme is to close the Surinder Singh and Zambrano routes to new applicants from 8 August 2023.

The Explanatory Memorandum justifies this ‘as a matter of fairness to other British citizens wishing to sponsor foreign national family members to settle in the UK’.

Students

Students on courses starting after 1 January 2024 will now only be able to bring dependents if they are government-sponsored or are studying towards a PhD, another doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree. Dependents already in the UK remain able to extend their leave.

For Skilled Workers (as regards students applying to switch to the Skilled Worker Visa), the course need not have been completed if it is degree-level or above at a provider with a track record of compliance and the job will start no earlier than the course completion date.

Skilled Workers, Global Business Mobility, and Scale-Up Workers

The Shortage Occupation List for skilled workers is expanded to include several construction jobs: bricklayers and masons, roofers, roof tilers and slaters, carpenters and joiners, plasterers, and construction and building trades not elsewhere classified. Agriculture and fishing trades are also added. Whether this makes much difference in practice is debatable as there is still a lot of bureaucracy and some very high application fees associated with this route.

New genuineness requirements are introduced in Appendix Skilled Worker, Appendix Global Business Mobility routes, and Appendix Scale-up. In each case, an applicant must show that they genuinely intend and are able to undertake the role for which they have been sponsored, and that they don’t intend to take unpermitted additional employment.

The Ukraine Extension Scheme

Currently, the Ukraine Extension Scheme enables Ukrainian nationals to extend their stay in the UK if they had leave to remain at any point between 18 March 2022 and 16 May 2023. It was scheduled to close to new applicants on 16 November 2023. The statement of changes amends the latest date on which an applicant must have had leave to 16 November 2023. It also extends the deadline for new applications to 16 May 2024.

Adult dependent relatives

Prior to 1 June 2023, if a pair of parents or grandparents were applying together as adult dependent relatives, then only one of them needed to show a need for long term personal care that could not be met in their country of residence. As it currently stands, both parents or grandparents must meet the care requirements in their own right. This potentially requires applicants to choose between having their care needs met in the UK and foregoing those needs to remain with their spouse or partner.

The new statement of changes reverts to the previous position. Now, where one parent or grandparent has care needs that meet the rules, the other will qualify alongside them whatever their own state of health. The explanatory memorandum accompanying the rules, with surprising candour, confirms that the omission was an error.

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