The Government has released a further set of changes to the Immigration Rules to take effect from 5 October 2023. Whilst these are not substantive changes to the Immigration Rules, the changes announced on 7 September 2023 primarily seek to clarify various of the Home Office’s policy positions, for example through the introduction of the cross-cutting Appendix Children and clarifications to the grounds of refusal, Appendix English language alongside other lesser used visa routes.
Youth Mobility Scheme
The age range under the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) has been expanded to 18-35, for nationals from Australia and Canada to mirror those applying from New Zealand. The length of stay for these particular nationalities under the scheme has also been increased from 2 years to a total of 3 years. Andorra has now been added to the list of eligible countries participating in this route for young people between the age of 18-30.
NHS Debts and Electronic Travel Authorisation
The Immigration Rules will be updated to reflect that having an outstanding NHS debt is no longer an automatic ground for refusal for an Electronic Travel Authorisation (“ETA”) application. An individual may still be refused permission to enter the UK on arrival, however, if relevant steps have not been taken to clear this debt.
Whilst this should give flexibility for individuals applying to come to the UK on this route, steps will most likely still be needed to ensure ETA requests are successful and this should be kept in mind.
EU Settlement Scheme and the Right of Administrative Review
The right of administrative review has been removed for refusals and cancellations issued from 5 October 2023 for applications made under the EUSS, EUSS family permit, and S2 Healthcare Visitor Visa routes. A right of appeal will be available, pursuant to the Citizens’ Rights Agreements.
Applicants in a number of categories will now be able to rely on GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification at level 4 or 5 or Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English to meet English language requirements.
Whilst an Autumn Statement of Changes would ordinarily be anticipated, the primary change now anticipated for the remainder of 2023 will be the increase in visa application, priority service and NHS Surcharge fees for UK visa applications which we anticipate imminently. This current Statement of Changes seems to be an exercise in ‘tidying-up’ the Home Office’s existing position on various matters, rather than a new direction for existing visa routes.
Should you have any questions relating to these changes, do not hesitate in contacting your usual Magrath Sheldrick LLP contact who can assist further.