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Latest UK Immigration Rules Changes Revealed

In its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC1780), published on 7 September 2023, the Home Office announced various changes to a number of UK immigration routes.  In this post we highlight some of the key changes to the Immigration Rules that applicants should be aware of, including:

  • Removal of the right of Administrative Review for EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) refusals;
  • Removal of NHS debt as a basis for refusing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) application;
  • Introduction of a new Appendix Children;
  • Increase in the eligible age range and duration of stay for Australian and Canadian citizens on the Youth Mobility Scheme, as well as the addition of Andorra to the scheme;
  • Incorporation of the settlement concession for pre-1997 Gurkhas into the Immigration Rules and extension to encompass pre-1997 Hong Kong military unit veterans and family members.

These changes will come into effect on various dates from 28 September 2023.

Removal of the Right of Administrative Review for EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) Refusals

Since 1 November 2018, EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) applicants who face refusals based on eligibility or are granted pre-settled status instead of settled status have been granted an additional avenue for administrative review. Additionally, there currently exists a right to an administrative review for decisions to cancel EUSS status on specific grounds. 

Changes are being made to Appendix AR and Appendix AR (EU) of the Immigration Rules to abolish the right to administrative review (but not the right of appeal) for all decision types where it is currently applicable for the EUSS, the EUSS family permit, and the S2 Healthcare Visitor visa. These modifications will be effective for all relevant decisions made on or after 5 October 2023.

Furthermore, some minor technical modifications are being made to the Immigration Rules for the EUSS in Appendix EU. These changes in Appendix EU aim to elucidate the existing policy regarding cases where a dependent parent or child has previously been granted limited leave under Appendix EU, clarifying that they do not need to demonstrate dependency for subsequent applications under Appendix EU. Adjustments are also being made to the definition of the ‘required date’ in Annex 1 of Appendix EU, explicitly stating that the specified required date in sub-paragraphs (a)(viii) and (ix) does not apply to applicants relying on either a person with a Zambrano right to reside or a family member of a qualifying British citizen.

Removal of NHS Debt as a Basis for Refusing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Application

Currently, individuals from visa-exempt countries (including EEA citizens) visiting the UK for up to six months as visitors can enter based solely on their nationality, as indicated by their passport or other travel document.

However, in October 2023, the UK is launching an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme,  meaning that non-visa nationals will need Electronic Travel Authorisation in order to transit through the UK, stay for six months as a visitor or stay for three months on the Creative Worker visa concession.

The  Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme is being launched in a phased manner, starting with specific nationalities. Residents of Qatar travelling to the UK will require an ETA from November 2023, and residents of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will require an ETA from February 2024. More nationalities will be added to the scheme later and, eventually, all travellers visiting or transiting through the UK without requiring a visa for short stays or holding any other immigration status prior to their journey will need to apply for a UK Electronic Travel Authorisation.  

In its latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, the Home Office is making a change to Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisations to remove NHS debt as a basis for refusing an ETA application.  Currently, the Immigration Rules state that an ETA application may be rejected if the applicant has not paid relevant NHS charges for overseas visitors, amounting to a minimum of £500.  However, the Home Office has now decided that it cannot process NHS debt information rapidly enough to meet its service standard of 3 days for deciding an ETA application.  Therefore NHS debt is being removed as a basis for refusing an ETA application.

Applicants should keep in mind, however, that a successful ETA application does not automatically guarantee entry at the UK border. Therefore, travellers intending to enter the UK, carrying outstanding NHS debts, and failing to settle them prior to travel, may face denial at the UK border upon arrival.

At present, Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisations also states that a lawful resident of Ireland travelling to the UK from within the Common Travel Area (CTA) is not required to obtain an ETA. The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules clarifies that the ETA exemption for lawful residents of Ireland travelling within the CTA will necessitate individuals aged 16 and above to demonstrate their Irish residency, if requested by a UK official, to qualify for this exemption. The Home Office released guidance on 20 July 2023, outlining acceptable documents for proving residency and benefiting from this exemption. These documents include a Permanent Residence Certificate, European Health Insurance Card, Irish driving licence/learner permit, Medical card and GP visit card, National Age card, and Irish Residence Permit.

Introduction of a New Appendix Children

The Statement of Changes implements a comprehensive Appendix dedicated to Children, encompassing standard criteria applicable to both children applying as dependents of a lead applicant and those applying independently. 

The shared criteria for dependent children pertain to age, self-sufficiency, care, and relationship requisites. 

Additionally, a uniform parental consent stipulation will be in effect when a child seeks entry clearance or permission to reside independently. 

Taking effect on 5 October 2023, Appendix Children will initially apply to over 20 routes, and it will be extended to further routes in the future.

Increase in the Eligible Age Range and Duration of Stay for Australian and Canadian Citizens on the Youth Mobility Scheme

The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules implements an expansion of the eligible age range for Australian and Canadian citizens who wish to enter the UK under the Youth Mobility Scheme from 18-30 to 18-35.  It also extends the duration for which Australian and Canadian citizens can stay in the UK on the Youth Mobility Scheme from 2 to 3 years.

Additionally, a minor technical adjustment is being made to clarify the regulations regarding self-employment under the Youth Mobility Scheme scheme.  Self-employment is only permitted where the applicant has no premises which they own, other than their home, from which they carry out their business, the total value of any equipment used in their business does not exceed £5,000, and the applicant has no employees.

Andorra is being added to the list of countries and territories participating in the Youth Mobility Scheme, and the rules are being updated to outline the requirements for citizens of Andorra who wish to come to the UK through this scheme. A total of 100 places will be available to citizens of Andorra on the Youth Mobility Scheme.

These changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme will come into effect from 31 January 2024.

Incorporation of the Settlement Concession for Pre-1997 Gurkhas Into the Immigration Rules and Extension to Encompass Pre-1997 Hong Kong Military Unit Veterans and Family Members

In line with a government announcement in March 2023, the 2009 concession allowing settlement applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas is being formally integrated into the Immigration Rules. Simultaneously, this provision is being extended to encompass a new pathway for pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units and their families to establish residency in the UK.

Changes to the Long Residence Rules

In April 2023, the definition of “lawful residence”for the purpose of settlement on the basis of 10 years long residence was modified to exclude periods spent under immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student, or seasonal worker. The rules are being updated to explicitly state that this exclusion encompasses periods spent under prior versions of immigration bail (temporary admission and temporary release) and earlier visitor, short-term student visa, or seasonal worker routes.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

In this post we have highlighted some of the key changes to the Immigration Rules introduced by Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC1780), published on 7 September 2023.  

For expert advice in relation to a UK visa application or immigration appeal, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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