Global Alerts

United Kingdom – Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules

The Home Office has published the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules.

The changes include:

  • Removing PhD level occupations from the Tier 2 (General) cap, and changes to the Tier 2 (General) Shortage Occupation List (SOL);
  • Revised provisions for access to the EU Settlement Scheme for family members of UK nationals returning from a European Economic Area (EEA) member state or Switzerland, and some other minor changes to the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • Exempting medical professionals who have already passed an English language test from sitting another test before entry on a Tier 2 visa.

Tier 2 (General)

Effective October 6, 2019, PhD-level occupations will be exempted from the Tier 2 (General) annual cap of 20,700 places.

Also effective October 6, 2019, the SOL is being amended following a review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee published May 229, 019. There is one list covering the whole of the UK and an additional list for Scotland.

The SOL means that:

(i) listed jobs are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirement and are given higher priority within the Tier 2 (General) annual limit; and,

(ii) jobholders whose occupations are on the list are exempt from the relevant Tier 2 earnings threshold when they apply for indefinite leave to remain, although they must still be paid the appropriate rate for the occupation.

The changes to the SOL include:

EU Settlement Scheme

Effective October 1, 2019, in line with an announcement in April 2019, close family members (where the relationship existed on Brexit day) of UK nationals returning with them from the EEA or Switzerland, having lived there together while the UK national exercised their free movement rights, will be able to access the EU Settlement Scheme until March 29, 2022 in both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios.

Future spouses, civil partners and durable partners (where the relationship was established after Brexit day), and other dependent relatives of UK nationals, returning with them from the EEA or Switzerland, having lived there together while the UK national exercised their free movement rights, will be able to access the EU Settlement Scheme until December 31, 2020 in both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ scenarios.

Medical Professionals

Effective October 1, 2019, an amendment is being made to exempt doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives, when making a Tier 2 (General) application, from having to sit an approved English Language Test if they have already passed an English test accepted by the relevant professional regulatory body.

A corresponding amendment is also being made to provide that Tier 2 doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives who have passed such a test are treated as having demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language for the purpose of settlement.

Action Items

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact an immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

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