• Eldee Greyling

New UK Immigration Changes Taking Effect From April 2021

The most important, recent change is the introduction of the new Graduate Route but there are a number of other Immigration developments to highlight.

The Graduate Route

The Government's introduction of the Graduate Route represents a long-anticipated change and will allow international students to stay in the UK, once they have successfully completed their studies.

This new route will be live to all graduate applications on 1 July 2021.

Businesses should be aware of this new immigration route as Graduate visa holders could be an important pool of labour for employers without the need for a sponsor licence.

For many UK businesses, this post-Brexit incentive represents a welcome boost to an economy already severely impacted by the pandemic. It sets out the Government’s ambition to recruit and retain the very best and brightest pool of international talent, by increasing the number of international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 by 2030.

What to Consider:

  • All International students who have completed a Bachelor or Masters degree will be allowed to stay in the UK for further two years. This also includes professional qualification degrees, such as LPC or PGCE. PhD graduates can stay for three years.

  • Applicants must have a valid Student (or Tier 4) visa at the time of application.

  • No sponsor is needed and applicants do not need a job offer to apply. They will be able to work in any profession, at any level (apart from restrictions for those working as a doctor, dentist and as a sportsperson).

  • There is no minimum salary requirement on this route, so applicants can work freely and flexibility under this route. Applicants can also be self-employed.

  • The Graduate route does not lead to settlement. Applicants must switch to other categories before their visa expiry to remain in the UK.

  • Students must be living in the UK with a current student visa. If the course duration is less than 12 months, all of their time must have been spent in the UK. Students studying a course of more than 12 months duration must have been granted permission to stay for at least 12 months on the Student/Tier 4 route and must have spent that time studying in the UK. There are limited exceptions for absences due to Covid-19.

Skilled Worker Routes

The introduction of a general minimum salary requirement, means sponsors must comply with paying Skilled Workers a minimum rate of £10.10 per hour. This equates to the £20,480 minimum floor for a 39-hour week. This overall minimum salary requirement is intended to safeguard workers from exploitation, whilst reducing any potential abuse of the sponsorship system.

New Entrants

International students who have completed two years on the Graduate route will now be treated as ‘New Entrants’ under the Skilled Worker Route. Workers can be sponsored under the new entrant route for a maximum of 4 years. The 4 years includes time spent in any Tier 2 route or as a Skilled Worker, whether or not that permission was for a continuous period.

Updates to EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

The Immigration Rules regarding the EU Settlement Scheme have recently come into effect from 6 April 2021.

There is now less than three months to go until the deadline for European Union (EU) citizens living in the United Kingdom to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme,

Recent Amendments:

  • Allow the Home Office right to refuse applications where there are issues with the applicant’s conduct. For example, a criminal conviction committed from 1 January 2021.

  • Individuals applying under the EUSS as the dependent parent of an EU or Swiss citizen (or their spouse/civil partner) will now have to actively submit evidence of their financial dependency – this will no longer be assumed. This change will only apply to applicants who did not enter the UK prior to the end of the transition period and who apply after 30 June 2021.

  • Applicants are now able to use other forms of ID in cases where the required identity documents are unavailable due to reasons beyond the applicant’s control. This is a welcome development, acknowledging the vulnerability of some applicants whilst ensuring that the scheme continues to be accessible.

For expert support and assistance with your EUSS application please contact our team of trusted experts who will be happy to help.

Eldee Greyling

Phone: +44 (0) 1635 282682


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