The U.K. government published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules on 12 March 2020, and this comes into force on 6 April 2020.
The main changes are to the EU Settlement Scheme. Thankfully, many of these changes are welcomed as they fill the gaps in the EU Settlement Scheme. Here is a high-level summary of the changes announced:
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
- References to a no-deal Brexit have been removed from Appendix EU, Appendix EU (Family Permit), Appendix AR (EU) and Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.
- The EUSS is extended to those who hold a relevant document issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 as an extended family member on the basis that:
- They are a child under the age of 18 who is subject to a nonadoptive legal guardianship order in favour of an EEA citizen.
- They are the relative of the spouse or civil partner of an EEA citizen.
- They are a child under the age of 18 of the durable partners of an EEA citizen.
- Durable partners and dependent relatives applying to the EUSS may rely on expired documents issued under the 2016 EEA Regulations but only where they had applied for a further residence document under the 2016 Regulations based on the same family relationship and that further document was issued after the first had expired. Durable partners need to have applied for this document before 1 January 2021. They will then have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the Settlement Scheme.
- If an individual has an application for a residence document under the 2016 Regulations outstanding at the end of the transition period, that individual can rely on that document when applying to the EUSS.
- Leave to enter granted by virtue of having arrived with an entry clearance granted under Appendix EU (Family Permit) can now be curtailed where there has been a material change in circumstances after the family permit was granted. A cancellation decision on these grounds can be challenged by way of Administrative Review.
- The Immigration Rules provide that those outside the U.K. with indefinite leave to remain may resume their U.K. residence so long as they were not absent for more than two years, as well as satisfying some other requirements. What was not confirmed up to this point was how that rule will be squared with the promise that people with EU settled status (which legally speaking is a form of indefinite leave to remain) can retain it for up to five years rather than two. Appendix EU now explicitly states that paragraphs 18 and 19A will not apply to those granted settled status under the Settlement Scheme.
- Despite no longer being an EU member state, the U.K. must continue to follow the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning free movement rights handed down before the end of the transition period. The revised Appendix EU therefore reflects the case of SM (Algeria). A child in a guardianship situation would only have rights of residence if those are recognised by the U.K. What this means for the Settlement Scheme is that children in “non-adoptive legal guardianship orders” can now apply alongside a sponsor. Previously the scheme only permitted applications from children under formal adoptions.
- The amendments confirm that, to use this route, the U.K. citizen needs to be resident abroad and exercising free movement rights before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) as well as immediately before the U.K. national and the family member return to the U.K.
- The salary threshold in the eligibility criteria for indefinite leave to remain under Tier 2 will not increase annually following the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee. As a result, it will remain at £35,800 for all applications, until further notice.
- Archaeology jobs fitting SOC 2114 – Social and Humanities’ Scientists – are now in the U.K.-wide shortage occupation list.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)
- The allocation and the number of places available is updated.
- Hong Kong will be added to the list of ‘Invitations to apply arrangements.’ Hong Kong allocates its places on a ballot scheme but had previously been missed off the list of participating countries.
Permit Free Festival List
- This has been updated.
- No longer includes for 2020/21 are Africa Utopia, Cornwall International Male Choral Festival and Manchester International Festival. Newly added are Edinburgh International Book Festival and London International Festival of Theatre.
- This has been updated. The Home Office made amendments to Annex 1 and Annex 2 in Appendix W to ensure the list of organisations which are recognised by the endorsing bodies for this route are accurately reflected.