Changes to the Immigration Rules

The government has proposed a number of changes to the Immigration Rules that will be phased in over the coming months from 6 April 2022.
Among the most important changes are the following:

  • Children born in the UK who have lived here for seven years will be able to obtain permanent residence immediately instead of having to wait 10 years.
  • Children who were not born in the UK but who have lived here for at least 7 years will be able to obtain permanent residence in 5 years instead of 10 years.
  • In both cases it is still necessary to prove that there are compelling reasons why the child needs to reside in the UK. Examples would be where the child is receiving medical treatment in the UK or has family members here or is about to go to university.
  • Young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have lived in the UK for at least half of their lives will be able to obtain indefinite residence in 5 years instead of 10.
  • A prison sentence of 12 months or more will prevent a person from obtaining permanent residence (previously they could do so if 15 years had passed since the end of the sentence). Presumably, people in this situation will be expected to apply for visa extensions in perpetuity.
  • The introduction of visas for people the government calls “high-potential”. The main requirements for this type of visa will be that in the 5 years immediately preceding the date of application, the applicant has obtained a UK undergraduate or postgraduate degree from an institution appearing on the Global University List (list to be defined but will only be the 50 institutions).
  • New route referred to as “scale-up”. This is another new route aimed at attracting what the government considers to be “global talent – possibly “the best and brightest” (as they once considered Russian oligarchs to be). Applicants to this route must have a job offer sponsored by a company authorised under the scheme. To register for this route, a company must demonstrate annualised growth of at least 20% over the previous 3-year period in terms of turnover or number of staff. Companies must also have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this 3-year period.
    The job on offer must be qualified to graduate level and receive at least £33,000 per annum or the current rate for the particular occupation, whichever is higher.
  • Changes to the no access to public funds (benefits) rule for some migrants. In May last year, the High Court ruled that the government’s policy of denying benefits to migrants violated the state’s obligation to promote the welfare of children. The Home Office is now making changes to reflect that judgment and in theory these changes should allow more migrants to access public funds.
  • Individuals who have applied to switch from a student to a postgraduate visa will now be able to start working immediately, while waiting for their application to be approved.

Some of the changes to the Immigration Rules are undoubtedly positive, in particular those that allow minors and young people to acquire permanent residency immediately or after 5 years. There are other changes, such as the creation of two aforementioned routes to attract what the government calls “high potential”, where it remains to be seen whether in practice they contribute to a fairer approach to the immigration system.

Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here: manuel@mpbsolicitors.co.uk

First published in Spanish in Express News

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