Monday, 18 June 2018

10 important changes in UK immigration in the 1st half of 2018.

From doubling the health surcharge to online applications and relaxation of the Rules for sponsored workers and Turkish citizens, here is our news roundup for the first 6 months.

#1 Health surcharge is set to double in 2018

So far, this was the most important and affecting almost all migrants. In February 2018, the UK Government announced here that health surcharge would double to £400 per year from… Well, the Government didn’t say from when exactly, other than it’s expected to be before the end of 2018. Students and tier 5 YMS migrants will also pay twice more at £300 per year.

#2 Relaxation of Tier 2 rules

A very welcome announcement this week: on 13 June 2018, The Telegraph published an article claiming that Home Secretary Sajid Javid was about to “unveil a major easing of Britain’s immigration system that will enable 1000s more of skilled migrants to come to the UK in the run-up to Brexit”

Currently, there is an annual limit of 20,700 places per year for skilled workers coming to work in the UK. This limit is being increased by 8,000 or by almost 40%! This change doesn’t affect those switching from a Tier 4 student visa inside the UK – there is no limit anyway.

Non-European doctors and nurses are to be excluded from the limit altogether

This was what many of us thought obvious and overdue. Skilled doctors and nurses from all over the world should be welcomed to the UK without any annual limit.

#3 Relaxation of the rules for students, including letting students from China to apply without the proof of funds

A day after that, the UK Visas and Immigration published the above-mentioned announcements (perhaps they read The Telegraph and The Daily Mail):

UKVI is also making it easier for foreign students to secure a Tier 4 visa by adding 11 more countries that benefit from reduced paperwork provision. Nationals of some countries (Such as Malaysia) aren’t currently asked to supply evidence of funds. The list of eligible nationalities will expand and include the Chinese, which is a major welcome change!

#4 More places under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa

The current 2,000 places (per year) will also be opened to the high-achievers in the world of fashion as well as award-winning TV and film professionals. This route already welcomes leading talent in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology.

If you think you may qualify – time to contact one of the organisations that provide endorsement!

#5 New settlement route for Turkish citizens

A new settlement category for Turkish business people, workers and their families who are in the UK under the EU-Turkey European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA). This means that Turkish workers and business people will be able to settle in the UK after 5 years as either an ECAA business person or ECAA worker (or equivalent points based system routes), as long as the most recent period of leave was under the ECAA. This category was first announced in March 2018 after an Upper Tribunal ruling meant the previous route had to close.

#6 Latest on Brexit:

The date to put in your dairy - 31 December 2020. Unless it changes again, this is the cut-off point. If you entered before that – you can continue until settlement (and British Citizenship), as per the latest article in May 2018:

Interestingly, even after Brexit the current rules will still apply to European citizens who wish to bring their close family members to join them in the UK, ie as if Britain were still in the EU – as long as relationship existed on 31.12.2020.

We expect a new online application form to appear in late 2018 for EU/EEA citizens to confirm their status in the UK. According to this publication , during that process EEA citizens won’t need to provide fingerprints, list of absences from the UK and the self-sufficient (including students) won’t need to provide evidence of health insurance.

#7 Family members of EU/EEA citizens can apply without parting with their passports for 6 months – but only when applying together with the EEA “sponsor”.

European passport return service allows EU/EEA citizens to apply for permanent residence status, or for a registration status as a worker, through the councils where the council workers certify the passports and ID documents. The eligibility rules and supporting evidence remains the same, the difference is one doesn’t have to be without the ID document for 6 months.

We wanted to remind here that this service covered non-EEA family members who, traditionally, had to wait for 6 months without their passports. The catch is they can only use this service when applying together with their EEA citizen.

#8 More online application forms

When we had the Home Office workers visiting our office for consultation in November 2017 (we were chosen amongst approx. 15 prominent firms), they told us that UKVI would go paperless by the end of 2018. So far, we have seen many forms going online, such as FLR(M) and Naturalisation.

It is a good change? Like most changes, it’s a matter of getting used to. On one hand, the forms are shorter as only the relevant sections open up. On the other hand, there is no flexibility when completing them, ie “computer asks Yes or No” kind of thing while many cases fit into this.

It is important to distinguish between “applying online” and “completing the form online”. What is changing is that you complete the application form online, thus saving the UKVI officials to scan them (ie helping them with their job!). There may be further changes, such as not having to submit the original passport for the whole time. The casework, however, remains the same – it is NOT a “tick-a-box” application, you still have to meet the same rules and provide the same supporting evidence.

#9 Scanning documents service when you apply for a visa outside the UK

Talking about going paperless, when you apply for a UK visa in your country, almost all visa centres take your original supporting documents, scan them, return to you (sometimes with your passport) and pass them on electronically to the Home Office for consideration. This isn’t a recent change but we wanted to highlight it as it is becoming common and is the future. The only doubt we have is the quality of such scans. Some visa centres staff (who aren’t government officials) are in too much rush when doing so and we some of our clients found it worrying. Once it has been sorted, it is a welcome change from, say, having to post/courier the original documents to Sheffield, UK, when applying for a Spouse visa.

#10 Rules on absences for PBS Dependants

Until 11 January 2018 there were no rules on absences from the UK when it came to dependants of Points-Based System migrants. There have been strict rules for the main Tier migrant, ie 180 days per year. But Rule were silent for spouses and children. From 11 January 2018, the rules have been made clear for spouses and partners: same 180 days per year as for the main PBS migrant.

For individual advice or to make an application please contact us or visit

For previous news roundups - summer and autumn 2017 - click here

1st 4Immigration Ltd, authorised by the OISC, ref 200800152. we operate at the highest Level 3 of expertise. Office address: 68 King William Street, City of London, London, EC4M 7DZ.

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