On 7th September 2023, the Home Office published its latest ‘Statement of Changes In Immigration Rules HC1780. The main reason for the statement is to deliver changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and the Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation. Many of the other changes are minor in nature and will not significantly affect business immigration in the UK. In this article, we will summarise the key immigration rule changes for September 2023.
The latest statement of changes confirms that the UK will now be introducing a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme along the same lines as the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS).
The rules state a person travelling to the UK will need an ETA if they:
The UK’s new ETA scheme will ultimately apply to all passengers arriving in or transiting through the UK “who do not currently need a visa for short stays and do not have any other immigration status before travelling”.
The new ETA scheme will be launched in October 2023 in a phased manner and is intended to “strengthen the security of our border”. Under the phased rollout of the ETA, Qatari nationals will need an ETA from 15th November 2023 (applications can be made from 25th October). Furthermore, nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will require an ETA from 22nd February 2024 (applications can be made from 1st February 2024). More nationalities will be added to the scheme at a later date.
‘Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisations’ is being changed to make it clear that NHS debt will not be an automatic ground for refusal of an ETA. This is because, according to the Home Office, the ETA system is intended to take a “light touch” approach, and the current IT systems are “not capable of processing information on NHS debt quickly enough to deliver an ETA decision at the required speed”. That said, the Home Office has reserved the right to refuse entry if they discover evidence of non-payment of NHS at the border; “Travellers seeking permission to enter the UK who have outstanding NHS debts, and who do not take the necessary steps to settle their debts in advance of travel, may be refused entry at the UK border on arrival”.
The immigration law changes in HC1780 mean that there will no longer be a right to apply for an administrative review for any EUSS, EUSS family permit, or S2 Healthcare Visitor visa application decision. The statement confirms the right to appeal will remain where applicable. These changes will apply from 5th October 2023.
Two changes have been made to the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) for nationals of Australia and Canada only, as follows:
In addition, Andorra is now being added to the list of countries whose nationals can apply for a UK Youth Mobility Scheme visa.
Under the immigration law changes, the Home Office has introduced a new appendix called “Appendix Children”. Appendix Children will set out the immigration requirements for children applying as dependants of a lead applicant and for those applying in their own right. It will set out common requirements for dependent children related to age, independent life, care, and relationship requirements. A parental consent requirement will also apply for children applying for entry clearance or permission to stay in their own right.
The aim of the new Appendix Children document is to make it easier for those navigating the immigration system to understand the specific immigration rules for children. Previously, these were spread across several route-specific appendices.
In the earlier “Spring 2023 Rules” changes, part 13 of the immigration rules was changed to remove the 10-year re-entry ban for those who have been deported or removed from the UK at public expense. The September rule changes have now amended paragraph 9.8.7(e) of part 9 (grounds for refusal) to align with part 13.
Under the latest changes, the requirement to provide a current ‘Appointment Report’ from Companies House in paragraph 9(b)(vi) of Appendix FM-SE has been removed. This is to reflect the fact that Companies House Direct (CHD) and WebCHeck services that provide this service will be closing on 30th November 2023. Instead, users will need to use the “Find and update company information service” on the Companies House website.
Another change has been made to Appendix-SE to make it clear that information provided by applicants on ‘Evidence of registration with the Registrar of Companies at Companies House’ can be utilised by Home Office decision-makers to search for the directors of a specified limited company.
The latest changes have also added ‘prison service officers’ to the list of eligible occupations under the Skilled Worker route. As the statement explains, the occupation of prison service officers meets the skills threshold, and workers can be sponsored as long as the Civil Service nationality requirements have been met.
Finally, in addition to the latest immigration rule changes, the Home Office published a ‘Home Office immigration and nationality fees’ on 7th September 2023. That table does not reflect any changes to the existing fees. It is important to note that on 15th September, the Home Office published an updated fee list which outlines the fee increases that will come into force from 4th October 2023. Further increases to the Immigration Health Surcharge are still pending, and expected to be confirmed later this Autumn.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!