UNITED KINGDOM: New Immigration Rules Released

March 8, 2021

The UK Home Office has released an update to the Immigration rules.

The key changes are:

New Graduate Route from 1 July 2021 (see our separate article):

The new rules introduce the new Graduate route for international students who wish to pursue their career and work experience in the UK. Our above linked article goes into detail re: the new route opening from 1 July 2021.

It will be an unsponsored route which does not lead to settlement. Applicants will be able to apply following successful completion of course of study at UK bachelor’s degree-level or above. The study must have been with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance.

The applicant must have, or have last had, permission as a Student but not have been previously granted permission under the Doctorate Extension Scheme or as a Graduate. The applicant must have successfully completed the course of study which was undertaken during their last grant of permission to study on the Student route. The student sponsor must also have notified the Home Office, by the date of application, that the applicant has successfully completed the course of study

On this visa the applicant can work (including self-employment and voluntary work), apart from work as a professional sportsperson. Further study is permitted, except study with an education provider which is a Student sponsor, and which would meet the approved qualification and level of study requirements of the Student route

Changes to the Skilled Worker, Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) and Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Route

From 21 May 2021: A new ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) requirement is being introduced for certain roles, which must be confirmed on the CoS and requires the applicant to provide a valid ATAS certificate.

ATAS is traditionally used for international students (apart from exempt nationalities) and are intending to study at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects. The subjects are those where students’ knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. These students must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before they can study in the UK.

The new rules state that a non-exempt national requires a valid ATAS certificate if they are applying in a work route which requires a Certificate of Sponsorship, that Certificate of Sponsorship is issued by a work sponsor that is also a licensed student sponsor, and the role set out in the Certificate of Sponsorship:

(a) is in one of the following occupation codes:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2122 Mechanical engineers
  • 2123 Electrical engineers
  • 2124 Electronics engineers
  • 2127 Production and process engineers
  • 2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals;
  • 3111 Laboratory technicians
  • 3112 Electrical and electronics technicians
  • 3113 Engineering technicians
  • 3114 Building and civil engineering technicians
  • 5235 Aircraft maintenance and related trades

(b) includes an element of research at PhD level or above; and

(c) that field of research is a subject as listed in the immigration rules

Changes to the Skilled Worker Route

  1. From 6 April: There will be an introduction of a blanket £10.10 per hour to the Skilled Worker minimum salary requirement. This will not apply to an applicant who was granted permission as a Skilled Worker under the Rules in place before 6 April 2021, and has had continuous permission as a Skilled Worker since then.
  2. From 6 April: Recognition has been made of the higher rates for SoC codes 2113, 2119 and 2311. When the rules changed last time these SoC codes were subject to a high rise in the minimum ongoing rate required. Changes have been introduced so that a Tier 2 General Migrant falling within this SoC last time and who continues to be sponsored in these occupations, to be exempt from these higher going rates when they apply to extend their permission or settle under the Skilled Worker Rules. The previous going rates will continue to apply in these cases, for applications made before 1 December 2026.
  3. From 6 April: If a sponsor wishes to reduce a salary on the basis the Skilled Worker can offset the reduced salary by relying on a different set of tradeable points, a new application will be needed. This ensures the new points are assessed by the Home Office and the Skilled Worker continues to meet the requirements of the route.
  4. From 1 July: Those who wish to rely on the ‘New Entrant’ provision for skilled worker will also need to include any leave granted under the new Graduate route (detailed above) towards the maximum 4 years permitted under the new entrant provision.
  5. From 1 July: In relation to the ability to switch from Student/Graduate visa to Skilled Worker, a change is being made to the requirement for the applicant’s most recent permission to be as a Student (or Graduate), so that “most recent permission” does not include permission as a visitor.
  6. From 6 April: Several Health and Care roles and modern foreign language teachers are being added to the shortage of occupation list but Skilled Chefs is being removed.
  7. From 6 April: Amendment is being made to the transitional arrangements for the acceptance of allowances for people previously on Tier 2 General, to incorporate those who have since extended their leave as a Skilled Worker and have held this leave continuously.

Changes to the ICT Route

  1. From 6 April: A transitional provision is being reinstated to exempt Intra-Company workers who have been in Intra-Company routes since before 6 April 2011 from the maximum time limits that apply in the Intra-Company routes. Eligible workers can extend their permission for up to five years with each application.

Changes to the Global Talent Route

  1. From 5 May: A change is being made to allow applicants who have reached the pinnacle of their careers to bypass the endorsement requirement and instead qualify if they have received a prestigious prize.

Individuals and organizations who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.