The Home Office tends to serve up major changes to the Immigration Rules twice a year, in Spring and Autumn, with emergency measures sprinkled here and there.
One such emergency measure was the sudden closure of the Investor visa route to new applicants in February 2022, which we discussed here.
The press release at the time hinted that the Home Office would return to the drawing board for this category and possibly release details of a reformed route this autumn.
On 18 October, the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was released to much anticipatory excitement amongst the immigration legal community. However, some were left disappointed as there was no mention of the reformed investor route. Instead, only very minor changes were announced.
Autumn is not over of course, so there could still be further changes announced later in the year. We speculate that either the Government has changed its mind about the introduction of the reformed route or the rules are not yet ready or they felt that now was not the right time to announce big changes given the wider political difficulties.
At time of writing, the Home Secretary – the UK minister whose mandate includes immigration policy – has resigned from the Government. She had been a supporter of reducing overall migration and tightening controls, though her main focus was on refugee policy. The new minister’s focus in this field is not yet known.
Other ministers have expressed concerns about the UK economy’s growth potential and the shortage of workers in the labour market. They have signalled that they favour loosening UK immigration rules to encourage more migrant workers to come to the UK – especially in the wake of Brexit which has caused a collapse in the number of EU workers moving to the UK.
However, also absent from the Statement of Changes was new rules around those further roles which were eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route and the expansion of the Shortage Occupation list. These changes had been signposted to the media a few weeks ago, but appear to be under further review.
Given the rapidly developing political situation, the Home Office may not be in a position to announce major changes to UK immigration policy until the dust settles later in the year.
In brief, the main changes announced on 18 October 2022 are as follows.
- Police registration scheme – has been abolished entirely; those who were required to register with the police, no longer need to keep their certificates up to date.
- BNO Visas – adult children (and their family members) of BN(O) status holders may now apply for a BN(O) visa independently of their parents without the need to form part of their household
- Global Talent – the evidence requirements have changed to reflect that referees of applicants must have “detailed knowledge of the applicant’s work” for at least 12 months.
- Travel bans – the Home Office has extended its power to cancel Entry Clearance visas for those whose presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good.
- Ukrainian Extension Scheme – Ukrainian scheme visa holders can now apply to stay for a further 3 years but there is a deadline of 16 November 2023.
- Visa Nationals – citizens of Colombia, Guyana and Peru no longer need to apply for visas to visit the UK.
- Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visa – roles in the poultry production sector in the period up to Christmas will now qualify for a visa.