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4 things you should know about the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, published 11 October 2018

On 11 October 2018, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.  In this post, we will consider the main elements of the changes.

Implementation of the next phase of the roll-out of the EU Settlement Scheme for resident EU citizens and their family members to obtain UK immigration status

Appendix EU to the Immigration Rules came into force on 28 August 2018 and provided a basis for resident EU citizens and their family members (and the family members of certain British citizens) to apply for UK immigration status, post-Brexit. Essentially, the scheme was piloted in the North West of England and involved the voluntary participation of various NHS health care professionals, three universities and enrolled students of those universities.

As this pilot scheme has been deemed functional and successful, the Home Office has announced the rolling out of a second phase.

The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules announced various features of the second phase such as scaling up the testing, including, on a voluntary basis and with the agreement of the Devolved Administrations, staff in the higher education, health and social care sectors across the UK. This could mean that individuals in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales could be asked to take part in the second phase. Some vulnerable individuals, with the relevant support from local authorities and community groups, may be asked to take part in order to test the operation of the scheme for those with support needs.

Other features of the second phase of the pilot scheme include:

  • Aligning the basis on which the family members of certain British citizens will be eligible to apply for status under the scheme with that of family members of resident EU citizens. This includes the family members of British citizens who have returned to the UK having exercised their free movement rights in the EU
  • An EU citizen will be required to prove their identity and nationality by using their passport (and a non-EU citizen by using their biometric residence card) with the identity verification app for the scheme
  • A provision for an applicant to request an administrative review of a decision to refuse them leave under the EU Settlement Scheme on eligibility grounds, or to grant them limited leave to remain under the scheme rather than indefinite leave to remain

Introduction of a form of leave to remain for those children transferred to the UK as part of the Calais camp clearance to reunite with family between 17 October 2016 and 13 July 2017 and who do not qualify for international protection (i.e. refugee status or humanitarian protection)

In October 2016, the Government transferred 769 unaccompanied children to the UK. Each of those children claimed asylum on arrival in the UK. However, some of these applications were refused due to existing asylum and immigration rules. As a result of this, the UK Government has decided to create a new form of leave in order to rectify this problem. Now, those children transferred to the UK, between 17 October 2016 and 13 July 2017 as part of the Calais camp clearance in order to reunite with family, and who do not qualify for international protection, will be able to remain in the UK long term.

Although it is important to note that these applications may still be able to be refused on the grounds of security, criminality, deception or omission of information relevant to acceptance under Calais leave.

Those granted Calais leave, or their dependants will receive a Residence Permit with a validity of five years. After this 5 year period, if the person’s Calais leave has been renewed, they will be issued with another Residence Permit, valid for a further period of five years. After a period of 10 years’ continuous leave in the UK,  an individual is then able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Supporting the operation of the new application process in UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by amending the Rules on the requirements for a valid application

Various changes are being made in order to streamline the service offered to applicants. Evidential requirements are changing to allow applicants to meet the Rules with more ease.  One important change being introduced is that instead of original documents from overseas being required, which can often be difficult to obtain, copies will now be permitted.

A more generous approach to evidential flexibility is also being adopted. If, for example, an applicant has failed to provide the evidence required, a caseworker will have the opportunity to write to an applicant and request more documentation.

Changes to specified evidence for medical exemption from Knowledge of Language and/or Life in the UK (KoLL) requirements

If you are requesting an exemption for Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK, on medical grounds, the specified evidence you must provide in order to support your claim is being adjusted.

Under these changes, you will now need to provide a copy of the form published on GOV.UK. This form must be completed by either your GP, a GP based in the practice you are registered, or a General Medical Council (GMC) registered consultant who has met with you in person and supports your request for exemption.

The template letter that the GP or other medical professional is now required to complete was created with several intentions. Firstly, it allows the medical practitioner to understand the nature of the test the migrant is expected to take. Secondly, it allows the medical practitioner to fully consider whether they can support the exemption requested. And lastly, it is intended to allow for better customer service, reducing the need for caseworkers to write to several requests to medical practitioners.

The changes set out in the Statement of Changes will take effect from 5 November 2018.

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