In its Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC1160, the UK Home Office has set out a broad range of amendments and updates affecting sponsors, workers and those making UK visa or settlement applications.
When do the new Home Office rules take effect?
The work-related visa changes will in most part take effect from 12 April 2023, while the new Innovator Founder route opens on 13 April 2023.
What are the latest changes to the Immigration Rules?
In summary, the latest changes include:
Skilled Worker visa
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker visa is increasing from £25,600 to £26,200.
GBM Senior or Specialist Worker visa
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold under the GBM Senior or Specialist Worker visa is increasing to £45,800 from £42,400.
GBM UK Expansion Worker visa
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold under the GBM Expansion Worker visa is increasing to £45,800 from £42,400.
In addition, UK Expansion Worker applicants typically have to show that they have been employed overseas by their non-UK employer for at least 12 months, unless they are earning more than £73,900 per year, or are a Japanese national seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the linked business or organisation under the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The new rules have added a further exemption to this 12-month employment requirement for Australian nationals or permanent residents with an Australian employer.
GBM Graduate Trainee visa
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold under the GBM Graduate Trainee visa is increasing to £24,220 from £23,100.
Sponsored visa working time calculations
The changes also provide helpful clarification on how to determine average working week hours for sponsored workers with irregular working patterns for the purpose of minimum salary calculations.
Scale up worker visa
From 12 April 2023, the minimum salary threshold under the Scale up visa is increasing to £34,600 from £33,000.
Youth Mobility Scheme
From 29 June 2023, the provisions of the Youth Mobility Scheme are being enhanced for New Zealand nationals. The eligibility age range for New Zealanders is being extended from 18 to 35 (the age range is 18 to 30 for all other eligible nationalities) and New Zealand nationals will be able to stay in the UK for up to 3 years, rather than 2 years for all other nationalities.
The changes are part of the UK’s reciprocal work arrangement with New Zealand, which is also being enhanced for UK nationals wanting to work in New Zealand.
Global Talent Route
A number of clarifications have been made to Appendix Global Talent in relation to evidential requirements, including changing references to “science, engineering and humanities” to read “science, engineering, humanities and social sciences”. Global Talent workers will also be able to rely on time spent in the UK as an Overseas Business Representative when applying to settle.
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme
The UK’s pre-travel authorisation system for non-visa nationals is being rolled out this year. Under the new system, non-British or Irish passengers visiting the UK or transiting the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays will be required to apply for an ETA prior to travelling to the UK. The scheme will also apply to short-stay travellers under the Creative Worker route.
ETA applications will be made online or using the ETA app. Applicants are expected to receive a decision within three working days.
The ETA will be linked to the individual’s passport. It will last for either two years or until the traveller’s passport expiry date, whichever is sooner.
Refused applications will mean the applicant has to apply for the relevant UK visas, such as a transit or visitor visa.
The scheme will open to nationals of Qatar from 15 November 2023 and will extend to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates from 15 February 2024.
Innovator Founder route
The Innovator Founder route is being launched from 13 April 2023 for individuals wanting to come to the UK to set up a business.
Replacing the Innovator route, the visa imposes no minimum investment requirement, unlike its predecessor which requires at least £50,000 to be invested.
The introduction of the new route coincides with the closure of the Start Up visa, which has effectively been rendered redundant following the removal of the minimum investment requirement. Start up visa applications will now only be accepted where the applicant received endorsement prior to 13 April 2023. The route closes fully to new applications on 13 July 2023.
The new Innovator Founder route also sees relaxed restrictions on secondary employment for visa holders. Innovator workers will be able to engage in work outside of running of their business as long as the second job qualifies as a skilled role, ie at RQF Level 3 or above.
The rules on visitor visa permissible activities are being expanded to allow working on ships transporting goods and/or passengers between ports in the UK and an overseas destination to perform cabotage operations (collecting and delivering goods and passengers within the UK as part of an international journey), while receiving payment from a UK source in these circumstances.
The long residence rules have been amended to specify that time on immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student and on the seasonal worker routes will not count towards the residence requirement. An individual who has spent a period of time on immigration bail or as a visitor (or other temporary permission) who is later granted permission on another basis will still be able to qualify for long residence settlement, but they will need to wait longer to do so.
Those with lapsed ILR who have in the interim returned to the UK as a visitor can still apply to resume their settled status under the returning resident provisions, although they must still make their returning resident application from outside the UK.
Adult Dependent Relatives
The guidance states the new Appendix Adult Dependent Relative supersedes the provisions for Adult Dependent Relatives under Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. We support employers, entrepreneurs, workers and their families with all types of UK visas, settlement and nationality applications. For advice on any aspect of UK immigration and the recent changes to the Immigration Rules, contact us.
Last updated: 9 March 2023