On October 22, 2020, the UK government published a Statement of

Changes to the Immigration Rules, introducing the expected

“Points-Based” Immigration System.

Among the changes, most of which take effect on December 1,

2020, are the following:

English Language

  • Applicants only need to prove the

    required level of English language to the Home Office once. Malta

    is included in the majority English-speaking country list (so

    Maltese nationality is proof of English language ability).

  • Applicants can rely on a degree from

    Ireland as proof of English language ability.

  • Applicants who have gained GCSE/A

    Level or Scottish Higher in English while at school in the UK can

    rely on this as proof of their English language ability (initially,

    only for entry clearance and permission to stay for Student,

    Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator).

Financial Requirements

  • Students, Skilled Workers,

    Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2

    Sportspersons, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), Start-up and Innovator

    applicants no longer need to meet the maintenance requirement if

    they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than 12

    months.

  • Applicants are required to show they

    have held funds for 28 days (initially, only for Student, Skilled

    Worker, Start-up and Innovator routes)

  • Applicants can rely on electronic

    bank statements without requiring that they be certified by the

    bank on every page.

  • Applicants can rely on a wider range

    of accounts, not just cash or cash savings, as long as the funds

    can be accessed immediately.

  • Applicants must submit evidence of

    funds within 31 days of the date of application.

  • The maintenance requirement for

    Parents of a Child Student is set at £1560/month up to a

    maximum of 9 months; and an additional £625/month for any

    child other than the Child Student who will be under their care in

    the UK.

  • The maintenance requirement for

    Skilled Workers, Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion

    and Sportspersons, Innovators and Start-Ups, Tier 5 (Temporary

    Workers), including Seasonal Workers, Religious Workers, Charity

    Workers, Creative and Sporting workers, International Agreement

    Workers and Government Authorized Exchange Workers will be

    increased from £945/month to £1270/month and applicants

    are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days.

  • For most dependents, the maintenance

    requirement is reduced from £630/month to £285/month

    for a dependent partner, £315/month for the first child

    applying and £200/month for each subsequent child.

  • The maintenance requirement for Youth

    Mobility Applicants will be increased from £1890/month to

    £2530/month and applicants are now required to show they have

    held the funds for 28 days.

  • The maintenance requirement for

    Students will be £1334 /month in London and £1023/month

    outside London.

Visitors

  • Visitors are permitted to study for

    up to six months, rather than 30 days as currently. This does not

    apply to recreational leisure courses. A new short-term study route

    allows study for 6-11 months.

Skilled Workers

  • The minimum skill level is reduced

    from RQF level 6 (university degree) to level 3 (A-level or

    equivalent).

  • The Tier 2 cap is suspended.
  • The Resident Labour Market Test is

    removed.

  • Sponsored workers continue to require

    a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points), for a job at an

    appropriate skill level (20 points) and English language skills at

    B1 (intermediate) level (10 points).

  • The standard minimum salary

    requirement is reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 and the

    going rate for the occupation (20 points), but with some

    flexibility:

    • £23,430 and 90% of the going

      rate for the occupation for those who have a relevant PhD.

    • £20,480 and 80% of the going

      rate for the occupation for those working in jobs on the Shortage

      Occupation List or in a listed health or education occupation, or

      who have relevant PhDs in science, technology, engineering or

      mathematics (STEM).

    • £20,480 and 70% of the going

      rate for the occupation for new entrants to the labor market.

  • New entrants will also include those

    sponsored in postdoctoral research positions and those working

    towards professional qualifications, registration or chartered

    status. The criteria for new entrants switching from the Student

    route are being widened to include those were in the route at any

    time in the two years before they apply.

  • The 12-month “cooling off

    period” and six-year maximum length of stay in the route are

    being removed. The Skilled Worker route will not restrict when

    applications can be made or restrict length of stay.

  • The £35,800 salary threshold

    for settlement applications is being removed. Instead, sponsors

    must be paying their skilled workers a salary which equals or

    exceeds £25,600 per year and the going rate for the

    occupation (or £20,480 and the going rate for the occupation

    for shortage occupations or listed health or education

    occupations).

  • The Tier 2 (General) route will be

    closed to new applications from December 1, 2020. A person who has

    entry clearance or permission to stay on the Tier 2 (General) route

    and wants to extend their stay in the UK can apply for further

    leave, or settlement, under the Skilled Worker rules if they meet

    the requirements.

  • All Skilled Worker applications,

    including Dependent partner and child applications, which are made

    on or after December 1 will be decided in accordance with the new

    Skilled Worker rules, even where they are accompanied by a

    Certificate of Sponsorship which was issued under the Tier 2

    (General) rules and policy in place before December 1. Sponsors

    will need to provide additional information via a “sponsor

    note” to allow Certificates of Sponsorship issued before

    December 1, 2020 to be used for a Skilled Worker application.

Intra-Company Transfer

  • This route will require applicants to

    be in roles skilled to RQF6, and subject to a different minimum

    salary threshold from the main Skilled Worker route. It will not be

    subject to English language requirements but will be subject to a

    requirement that the worker has been employed by the sending

    business for a minimum period prior to the transfer (12 months in

    the case of intra-company transfers or three months in the case of

    intra-company graduate trainees).

  • High-earners – those earning at least

    £73,900 per year (reduced from £120,000) – do not need

    to have been working for the sponsoring business overseas for at

    least 12 months.

  • The “cooling off” rules

    will be adjusted for intra-company transfers, so that an overseas

    intra-company transfer must not hold entry clearance or leave to

    enter or remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five

    years in any six-year rolling period, except where they qualify as

    high earners to be granted up to nine years in any ten-year rolling

    period.

  • Those admitted on the route will be

    permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker route whilst still in

    the UK if they meet the qualifying requirements for that

    route.

Global Talent

  • Changes have been made to the

    definition of qualifying academic and research roles, and the

    criteria for senior appointments.

EU, Swiss and Turkish Citizens

  • EU or Swiss citizens with limited

    leave under Appendix EU (the EU Settlement Scheme or EUSS) on the

    basis of being resident in the UK before the end of the transition

    period can sponsor new family members (those not covered by the

    EUSS) to come to or remain in the UK.

  • Turkish workers and businesspersons

    with limited leave under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay (or under

    legacy arrangements in respect of the European Communities

    Association Agreement or ECAA) can sponsor a partner and children

    to come to or remain in the UK.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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