Below are highlights of the changes – further details are available in the explanatory memorandum and in the written statement by the Immigration Minister.
EU Settlement Scheme
According to a separate press release, from September 2023 people with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will automatically have their status extended by two years before it expires if they have not obtained settled status. They will be notified of the extension directly.
The Home Office also intends to take steps to automatically convert as many eligible pre-settled status holders as possible to settled status once they are eligible for it, without them needing to make an application. During 2024, automated checks of pre-settled status will establish their ongoing continuous residence in the UK.
Impact: The change ensures that nobody loses their immigration status if they do not apply to switch from pre-settled to settled status. The High Court last year ruled that the EUSS breaches the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement by allowing holders of pre-settled status to become unlawfully resident if they do not make a further application for settled status.
Additional changes to the EUSS mean that:
- Late applications can be rejected if there are no reasonable grounds for applying after the deadline, with no right to appeal or review;
- Illegal entrants can no longer make a valid application as a “joining family member”, i.e., a family member of an EU national who was not resident in the UK on that basis before the end of the transition period;
- The adult child of a durable partner is now counted as a dependent relative under Appendix EU if they were granted pre-settled status before turning 18;
- From 8 August 2023, the EUSS will be closed to new applicants under the so-called Surinder Singh and Zambrano
Ukraine Extension Scheme
The eligibility period for the Ukraine Extension Scheme is extended to allow Ukrainian nationals who obtain permission to enter or stay in the UK for any period between March 18, 2022, and November 16, 2023, to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme and obtain 36 months’ permission to stay in the UK. Previously the eligibility period covered Ukrainian nationals who held permission to enter or stay in the UK on March 18, 2022 (or who held permission which expired on or after January 1, 2022).
The application deadline for the Ukraine Extension Scheme is also extended, to May 16, 2024.
Student and Work Routes
International students on courses starting after January 1, 2024 will no longer be permitted to bring dependents unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designed as research programs.
Dependents already in the UK are able to extend their stay, and international students in postgraduate courses beginning before January 1, 2024, are able to bring dependents. Existing exemptions for dependents of government-sponsored students and dependent children who are born in the UK are preserved.
International students are no longer permitted to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed. Students on courses at degree level or above will be able to apply before course completion to switch to sponsored work routes, as long as their employment start date is not before their course completion. Those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch after 24 months’ study.
The changes give the Home Office more grounds to treat an asylum claim as withdrawn.
The Home Office also “pauses” its policy of differentiation between Group 1 refugees (those who entered lawfully) who could be given the standard five years followed by indefinite leave to remain, and Group 2 refugees (those who entered unlawfully and those granted humanitarian protection) who were previously given only 30 months’ leave to remain. Those already granted 30 months’ leave would have their conditions and leave upgraded to match those of Group 1 Refugees, although this is not provided for in the statement of changes.
The government is adding several jobs to the Shortage Occupation List – bricklayers and masons, roofers, roof tilers and slaters, carpenters and joiners, plasterers (now including dryliners), and construction and building trades not elsewhere classified, as well as agriculture and fishing trades.
Applicants sponsored for GP specialty training are to be granted permission to remain in the UK until 14 months after the end date of their certificate of sponsorship, rather than the usual 14 days, to allow them additional time to find employment (they cannot benefit from the graduate route). They will be allowed to work during this period.
Erickson Insights & Analysis
Erickson Immigration Group will continue to share updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.