Latest Changes to the UK Immigration System

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Latest Changes to the UK Immigration System as of 1st December 2020. The UK government published a Statement of Changes to Immigration Rules on 22nd October 2020. Among the mosr recent changes are the following:



English Language:


  • applicants must only demonstrate the required knowledge of the English language once to the Home Office;
  • malta is now included in the majority English-speaking countries list. Therefore, if you are a Maltese national, this acts as evidence of your English language abilities;
  • an Irish degree is considered as proof of English language ability;
  • applicants with GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English from a UK school may use this to evidence their English language ability. Initially, this applies only to entry clearance and permissions to stay for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-Up and Innovator routes.



Financial Requirements:


  • applicants in the following visa categories must no longer meet maintenance requirements, provided they can prove self-sufficiency in the UK for over 12 months: Students, Skilled Workers, Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportspersons, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), Start-up and Innovator;
  • applicants must evidence that they have held funds for 28 days. Initially, this applies only for Student, Skilled Worker, Start-up and Innovator routes;
  • applicants are no longer required to have a bank certification on every page; instead, they may rely on electronic bank statements;
  • applicants may provide a broader range of accounts as evidence of finance. This has extended beyond solely cash or savings, but the funds must be immediately accessible;
  • applicants must submit evidence of funds within 31 days of the date of application;
  • the maintenance requirement for parents of a Child Student applicant is set at £1,560/month up to a maximum of nine months. An additional £625/month is required for any additional child who will be under their care in the UK;
  • the maintenance requirement has increased from £945/month to £1,270/month for the following routes: Skilled Workers, Intra-Company Workers, Tier 2 Minister of Religion and Sportspersons, Innovators and Start-Ups, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), including Seasonal Workers, Religious Workers, Charity Workers, Creative and Sporting Workers, International Agreement Workers and Government Authorised Exchange Workers. Applicants must prove that they have held the funds for 28 days;
  • for most dependants, the maintenance requirement is reduced from £630/month to £285/month for a dependant partner, £315/month for the first child applying and £200/month for each subsequent child;
  • the maintenance requirement for Youth Mobility applicants will be increased from £1,890/month to £2,530/month, and applicants are now required to show they have held the funds for 28 days;
  • the maintenance requirement for Students will be £1,334/month in London and £1,023/month outside of London.





  • visitors are permitted to study for up to six months except for recreational leisure courses. A new short-term study route allows study for 6-11 months.





  • students and their dependents that are allowed to work are permitted to work as postgraduate doctors or dentists in training to enable them to work in the NHS.



Short-term Student Route:


Only the following applicants may apply via the short-term student route:

  • applicants aged 16 or older on the date of their immigration application;
  • applicants with an offer of a place to study an English language course that is between six and 11 months long;
  • applicants who are not intending to study any other subject;
  • applicants who will leave the UK at the earlier of the end of 11 months, or within 30 days of the end of the course;
  • applicants studying with a course provider defined as an 'accredited institution';
  • applicants that are applying for entry clearance before coming to the UK;
  • applicants with sufficient funds to cover their fees, living costs, accommodation and the cost of their return or onward journey;
  • applicants that are studying only the course for which they are granted permission;
  • other students who currently use the Short-Term Student route will be able to enter under the Visitor route.



Skilled Workers:


  • the minimum skill level is reduced from RQF level 6 (university degree) to level 3 (A-level or equivalent);
  • the Tier 2 cap is suspended;
  • the Resident Labour Market Test is removed;
  • sponsored Workers continue to require a job offer from an approved sponsor (20 points), for a job at an appropriate skill level (20 points) and English language skills at B1 (intermediate) level (10 points);
  • the standard minimum salary requirement is reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 and the going rate for the occupation (20 points), but with some flexibility:
    • £23,430 and 90% of the going rate for the occupation for those who have a relevant PhD;
    • £20,480 and 80% of the going rate for the occupation for those working in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List or in a listed health or education occupation, or who have relevant PhDs in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM);
    • £20,480 and 70% of the going rate for the occupation for new entrants to the labour market;
  • new entrants will also include those sponsored in postdoctoral research positions and those working towards professional qualifications, registration or chartered status. The criteria for new entrants switching from the Student route are being widened to include those in the route at any time in the two years before the application;
  • the 12-month 'cooling-off' period and the six-year maximum length of stay are being removed. The length of stay is not restricted;
  • the £35,800 salary threshold for Settlement applications is being removed. Instead, sponsors must pay Skilled Workers a salary equal to or above £25,600 per year and the going rate for the occupation (or £20,480 and the going rate for the occupation for shortage occupations or listed health and education occupations).
  • the Tier 2 (General) route is closed to new applications from 1st December 2020. A person who has entry clearance or permission to stay through the Tier 2 (General) route and wishes to extend their stay in the UK can apply for Further Leave, or Settlement, under the Skilled Worker rules providing they meet the requirements;
  • all Skilled Worker applications, including dependant partner and child applications, which are made on or after 1st December are decided following the new Skilled Worker rules, even where they are accompanied by a Certificate of Sponsorship which was issued under the Tier 2 (General) rules in place before 1st December. Sponsors must provide additional information via a 'sponsor note' to allow Certificates of Sponsorship issued before 1st December 2020 to be used for a Skilled Worker application.



Intra-Company Transfer:


  • this route will require applicants to be in roles skilled to RQF6, and there is a different minimum salary threshold compared to the main Skilled Worker route. It will not be subject to English language requirements. Still, the business must have employed the worker for a minimum period before the transfer (12 months in the case of Intra-Company Transfers or three months in the case of Intra-Company graduate trainees);
  • high-earners; those earning at least £73,900 per year (reduced from £120,000) – do not need to have been working for the sponsoring business overseas for at least 12 months;
  • the 'cooling-off' rules will be adjusted for intra-company transfers.  An overseas Intra-Company Transfer applicant must not hold entry clearance or leave to enter or remain as an Intra-Company transferee for more than five years in any six-year rolling period. An exception applies to high-earners, who may be granted up to nine years in any ten-year rolling period; 
  • applicants will be permitted to switch into the Skilled Worker route whilst in the UK if they meet the qualifying requirements for that route.



Global Talent:


  • changes have been made to the definition of qualifying academic and research roles, and the criteria for senior appointments.
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