The United Kingdom’s immigration system is undergoing continued transformation post-Brexit, driven by the desire to reduce immigration levels. A noteworthy development was revealed in the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (HC1780) released on September 7, 2023. This article presents an overview of the key alterations introduced in this statement.

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and Elimination of Administrative Review
The UK government has decided to eliminate the option of administrative review for all EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) refusal decisions. This change is slated to take effect from October 5, 2023.

Currently, the EUSS permits applicants to seek administrative review in cases of eligibility-based refusals or when they receive pre-settled status instead of settled status. However, this review avenue will be discontinued, impacting all relevant decisions made on or after October 5, 2023.

Simultaneously, minor technical adjustments are being made to Appendix EU to clarify existing policies concerning cases where a dependent parent or child has previously received limited leave under Appendix EU.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) Scheme
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme is an upcoming phased rollout initiative. It will become mandatory for Qatari nationals starting November 15, 2023, with applications open from October 25, 2023.

For nationals from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, or the United Arab Emirates:
Beginning February 22, 2024, travelers to the UK from these countries will be required to obtain an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization), with applications open from February 1, 2024.

For nationals of other countries:
Additional nationalities will be incorporated into the ETA program at a later date.

A notable change in this context is the removal of NHS debt as a grounds for rejecting an ETA application. The Home Office cited the inability to process NHS debt information swiftly enough to meet the 3-day service standard for ETA application decisions. However, it’s essential to note that ETA eligibility does not guarantee automatic entry at the UK border.

Additionally, the exemption for lawful residents of Ireland traveling within the Common Travel Area (CTA) will now require individuals aged 16 and above to demonstrate their Irish residency upon request by UK officials to qualify for this exemption.

Introduction of Appendix Children
Commencing on October 5, 2023, a new comprehensive “Appendix Children” will be introduced. This appendix will establish standardized criteria applicable to both children applying as dependents of a primary applicant and those applying independently. These criteria will cover aspects like age, self-sufficiency, care, and relationship requirements.

Moreover, the appendix will introduce a uniform parental consent requirement for children seeking entry clearance or permission to reside independently. Initially, Appendix Children will apply to over 20 routes, with plans for future expansion.

Changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS)
The Youth Mobility Scheme (YMS) will undergo several modifications, including an extension of the eligible age range for Australian and Canadian citizens from 18-30 to 18-35. Additionally, the maximum duration of stay under YMS for these citizens will be prolonged from 2 to 3 years.

Another significant alteration involves the inclusion of Andorra in the list of countries participating in the YMS. There will also be clearer delineation of self-employment restrictions under the YMS, specifying the conditions under which self-employment is permitted.

Settlement for Pre-1997 Gurkhas and Hong Kong Veterans
In alignment with a government announcement made in March 2023, the 2009 concession allowing settlement applications from pre-1997 Gurkhas will be formally incorporated into the Immigration Rules. Furthermore, this provision will be expanded to encompass a new pathway for pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units and their families seeking settlement in the UK.

Updates to the Long Residence Rules
The definition of “lawful residence” for the purpose of settlement based on 10 years of long residence was modified in April 2023 to exclude periods spent under immigration bail, as a visitor, short-term student, or seasonal worker. The new changes will explicitly specify that this exclusion encompasses periods spent under previous versions of immigration bail (temporary admission and temporary release) and earlier visitor, short-term student visa, or seasonal worker routes.

In conclusion, the latest revisions to UK immigration rules will significantly impact prospective applicants. These amendments span various areas, from the EUSS to the ETA scheme, the introduction of Appendix Children, changes to the Youth Mobility Scheme, settlements for Gurkhas and Hong Kong veterans, and updates to the Long Residence rules, reflecting the UK government’s ongoing efforts to revise and, in some cases, tighten immigration controls.

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