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UK Government Announces Immediate Visa Changes

Several changes to the UK’s immigration rules have been confirmed by the UK government, with some to take effect immediately.

The latest 39-page statement details changes to a number of key immigration routes including the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and Ukraine Extension Scheme as well as new criteria for the Skilled Worker and Student Visa pathways.

For help and expert advice on your immigration case contact us on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online today.

Impact On International Students and Their Dependents

One of the key changes that will have a major impact on migration is the removal of the right for international students to bring their dependents to the UK unless they are enrolled on qualifying postgraduate research-focused courses or have begun their course before January 2024.

Other exemptions will continue for dependents of government-sponsored students and for children born in the UK.

Overseas students will also no longer be able to switch from a Student Visa to a Work Visa before they finish their studies, with PhD students only able to switch after 24 months of completed study.

Visa Stamp

Changes to Key Schemes

Coming into effect on August 9th 2023, changes to the EUSS means those with pre-settled status will have their status automatically extended by 24 months if it is due to expire before they have been granted settled status.

The Home Office has confirmed that some schemes will be closed to new applicants including the EUSS Surinder Singh and Zambrano Carer schemes from August 8th 2023. After this date, many of the applicants who would have qualified under these routes will have to look to apply via the immigration rules under Appendix FM.

Additional criteria to ensure applicants intend to take up their sponsored job and will not breach their immigration conditions will also apply to the Skilled Worker route, Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker, Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, Secondment Worker, Scale-Up Worker), and Scale-up routes.

Ukraine Extension Scheme Update

Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the government has extended the application deadline for the scheme, allowing Ukrainian nationals and their family members to apply for permission to enter or stay in the UK. Under the revisions, qualifying applicants will now have until 16th May 2024 to apply for leave to remain.

New Opportunities for Construction Workers

Updates have also been made to the Shortage Occupation List, with many new professions added to the list in a bid to tackle the UK’s skill gap. Overseas workers with experience in the construction industry such as bricklayers, roofers and carpenters are now able to qualify for a lower visa fee.

Plans to Increase UK Visa Costs

As part of the changes, the UK government has also announced forthcoming plans to raise several immigration fees.

It has not been confirmed when the new fee structure will be implemented, so those wishing to apply for a UK visa are encouraged to do so as soon as possible if they wish to qualify for the current lower fees.

Work and Visit Visas will be subject to a 15 per cent increase, while the cost of applying for a Student Visa, UK Citizenship and Certificate of Sponsorships will rise by at least 20 per cent.

Priority services fees are also being revised by 20 per cent in a move aimed at funding the recent pay increase for public sector workers.

It is the first major revamp of the UK immigration fees since 2018 and the changes include raising the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge to £1,035 for those aged over 18, while students and younger applicants will be required to meet the new NHS surcharge of £776.

Prioritise Applying for a UK Visa 

This major update from the Home Office means anyone wishing to apply for a UK visa may wish to prioritise their application and should apply sooner rather than later to avoid becoming ineligible or having to pay increased costs.

Reach out to IAS for advice on how these new changes could impact your plans to live, work and study in the UK.

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