The immigration system of the United Kingdom is continuing to experience change following Brexit and due to pressure to reduce immigration. One significant announcement came through the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC1780) published on 7 September 2023. This article provides an overview of the key changes announced in this statement.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and the Removal of Administrative Review
The UK government has announced the removal of the right to administrative review for all refusal decisions under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). This change is set to take effect from 5 October 2023.
The current EUSS includes provisions for administrative review for applicants facing refusals based on eligibility or if they are granted pre-settled status instead of settled status. However, these review rights will be abolished, affecting all relevant decisions made on or after 5 October 2023.
Simultaneously, minor technical changes are being made to Appendix EU. The Government says these changes are to clarify the existing policy regarding cases where a dependent parent or child has previously been granted limited leave under Appendix EU.
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme is an upcoming phased rollout initiative, which will become mandatory for nationals of Qatar starting 15 November 2023. Applications can be made from 25 October 2023.
For nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates:
Starting from 22nd February 2024, if you are planning to travel to the UK, you will be required to obtain an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization). The application for ETA will open on 1st February 2024.
For nationals of other countries:
Additional nationalities will be included in the ETA program at a later date.
One notable change in this context is the removal of NHS debt as a basis for refusing an ETA application. The Home Office reasoned that it cannot process NHS debt information rapidly enough to meet its service standard of 3 days for deciding an ETA application. However, it is crucial to note that eligibility for an ETA does not guarantee automatic entry at the UK border.
Additionally, the exemption for lawful residents of Ireland travelling within the Common Travel Area (CTA) will now require individuals aged 16 and above to demonstrate their Irish residency, if requested by a UK official, to qualify for this exemption.
Introduction of Appendix Children
Taking effect on 5 October 2023, a new comprehensive Appendix Children will be introduced. This appendix will provide standardised criteria applicable to both children applying as dependents of a lead applicant and those applying independently. These criteria pertain to age, self-sufficiency, care, and relationship requirements.
Additionally, the appendix will bring into effect a uniform parental consent stipulation for children seeking entry clearance or permission to reside independently. Initially, Appendix Children will apply to over 20 routes, with plans for future expansion.
Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)
The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) is set to undergo some changes, which include an expansion of the eligible age range for Australian and Canadian citizens from 18-30 to 18-35. In addition, the maximum duration of stay under YMS for these citizens will be extended from 2 to 3 years.
Another significant change is the addition of Andorra to the list of countries participating in the YMS. There will also be a clarification of the self-employment restrictions under the YMS, clearly stating the conditions under which self-employment is permitted.
Settlement for Pre-1997 Gurkhas and Hong Kong Veterans
In concurrence with a government announcement made in March 2023, the 2009 concession allowing settlement applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas is being formally integrated into the Immigration Rules. Additionally, this provision is being extended to include a new pathway for pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units and their families for settlement in the UK.
Updates to the Long Residence Rules
The definition of "lawful residence" for the purpose of settlement on the basis of 10 years long residence was modified in April 2023 to exclude periods spent under immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student, or seasonal worker. The new changes will explicitly state that this exclusion encompasses periods spent under previous versions of immigration bail (temporary admission and temporary release) and earlier visitor, short-term student visa, or seasonal worker routes.
In conclusion, the latest changes to the UK immigration rules are set to have a significant impact on prospective applicants. These amendments, covering a wide range of areas from the EUSS to the ETA scheme, to the introduction of Appendix Children and changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme, to settlements for Gurkhas and Hong Kong veterans, and updates to the Long Residence rules, reflect the UK government's continuous efforts to revise and in some cases bring in tougher immigration controls.
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