The UK government has recently introduced a series of significant changes to its immigration policies. These changes, outlined in the Spring Budget 2023 and set to take effect from various dates, impact various aspects of immigration, including work visas, family routes, travel document requirements, and more. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the key updates and their implications.
Visitor Visa Changes
The government has implemented several changes in the realm of visitor activities on UK visit visas:
The government is eliminating restrictions that previously prevented visitors from working directly with clients in an intra-corporate context. This change is permissible, provided that such work is incidental to their employment abroad and contributes to the execution of a broader project by the UK branch of their overseas employer.
Remote work has now been officially sanctioned as a permitted activity for visitors, as long as it does not constitute the primary purpose of their visit.
Legal professionals have been granted an expansion in their list of permitted activities, which now includes providing advice or serving as an expert witness.
Scientists, researchers, and academics are now allowed to engage in research activities within the UK during their visit.
Travel for pilots and cabin crew is now permitted under Civil Aviation Authority approved wet leasing agreements. This allowance is applicable specifically during the months of March through October.
Speaking at conferences has been added to the list of permitted Permitted Paid Engagements (PPEs). However, it is crucial to note that visitors intending to partake in PPEs must make prior arrangements for their PPE activity before traveling to the UK. Furthermore, this activity must be carried out within 30 days of their arrival in the UK as a Visitor.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) Updates
As part of recent changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), individuals who have irregularly arrived or entered the UK illegally are no longer eligible to apply under the EUSS as joining family members, reflecting the government’s stance on illegal immigration.
Moreover, visitors intending to apply under the EUSS as joining family members are now required to submit their applications within three months of their arrival in the UK, with allowances for reasonable grounds for any delays in the application process. This adjustment aligns with the temporary protection of rights conferred on visitors by the Citizens’ Rights Agreements for the initial three months of their stay in the UK.
School Trips from France to the UK and Travel Document Requirements
Children who are enrolled in schools in France (including those on a visa) may now visit the UK on organised educational trips without the need for passports or visit visas, simplifying the process for school-related travel.
Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) Changes
Uruguay has been included in the list of countries participating in the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS), enhancing opportunities for young individuals from Uruguay to explore educational and cultural experiences in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, Japan and the Republic of Korea have seen improvements in their YMS arrangements, with notable changes such as an expanded age range from 18-30 to 18-35 and the removal of previous invitation requirements. These modifications aim to facilitate greater mobility and cultural exchange between the UK and these East Asian nations.
Salary Threshold Increase:
The earning threshold for overseas workers has been increased from £26,200 to £38,700. This change aims to ensure that individuals coming to the UK can support themselves economically.
The minimum income required for sponsoring family members has also been raised to £38,700. This adjustment is intended to ensure that sponsors have the financial means to support their family members effectively during their stay in the UK.
Notably, the Health and Care visa holders, as well as individuals in certain national pay scale professions, are exempt from the salary threshold increase. This exemption recognises the importance of these professionals in the healthcare sector and other critical areas, allowing them to continue their vital work in the UK without the heightened income requirement.
Shortage Occupation Changes:
The termination of the 20% salary discount for shortage occupations and the introduction of the Immigration Salary List are significant changes in immigration policy. This new list and the raised salary thresholds will undergo review by the Migration Advisory Committee, with the aim of potentially reducing the number of occupations eligible for the discount.
UK Visa Fee Increase:
The recent adjustments in visa fees and services include the following changes:
- Child Student or Student visa: The fee has increased from £363 to £490.
- Immigration Health Surcharge: The fee has been raised from £490 to £716.
- Priority Service: The cost for this service has gone up from £250 to £500.
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS): The fee for CAS has been increased from £21 to £25.
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): The fee for a CoS has risen from £199 to £239.
- Skilled Worker visa (three years or less): The fee for this category has increased from £625 to £719.
- Skilled Worker visa (more than three years): The fee for this category has gone up from £1,235 to £1,420.
- Immigration Health Surcharge for other immigration categories has increased from £615 to £1035.