This article only seeks to provide an overview of changes to certain routes, the Hong Kong BN(O) visa, the new Graduate route and the Skilled Worker route. All changes mentioned below, except for the introduction of the Graduate route, will take effect on 6 April 2021.
Hong Kong BN(O) visa
BN(O) citizens who overstayed between 1 July 2020 and 31 January 2021 will be able to apply for settlement without worry as to whether they will satisfy the lawful residence requirement. Changes to the immigration rules now state those who overstayed in this period and who have subsequently successfully applied for BN(O) route will not fall foul of the lawful residence requirement when applying for settlement.
Currently, those on BN(O) route cannot access public funds. The changes now enable access to public funds for BN(O) visa holders in the UK who later apply for a change of conditions due to becoming destitute or being at imminent risk of destitution.
The changes also ensures that those who receive Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR) for 12 months due to their BN(O) applications being refused must meet maintenance requirements when subsequently applying for the BN(O) route.
Graduate route – changes take effect 1 July 2021
Applicants for the new Graduate route must be made in the UK, with applicants holding Student or Tier 4 visas. If successful, those on graduate courses will get 2 years of permission to stay, whilst those on doctorate courses will get 3 years.
To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:
- Applicants must have successfully completed studies as a Student at a higher education provider with track record of compliance
- The course completed must have been for a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, or for certain professional qualifications
- Study on the course must have been in the UK for a minimum period of time, with this minimum being subject to the length of the course. There are, however, exceptions for distance learning outside of the UK between 24 January 2020 and September 2021 due to COVID-19.
Those on the Graduate route will be able to work full time at any skill level.
Dependant family members will also be allowed on this route so long as they are in UK and were last granted permission as dependants of the Graduate route applicant.
Should the requirements be met, those on the Graduate route will also be able to switch into the Skilled Worker route.
The Shortage Occupation List has been expanded by the latest changes. The list now includes 8 additional occupations in the health and care sectors (pharmacists, physiotherapists, laboratory technicians etc. amongst others) and the addition of modern foreign language teachers.
Skilled chefs have been removed from the list but will still qualify for and be sponsored as Skilled Workers.
The minimum salary thresholds will also have to meet the minimum hourly threshold. Effectively, this means that hourly pay can be no less than £10.10, even if the annual salary is above the requisite £25,600 or the lower annual thresholds for certain applicants.
For sponsors who wish to reduce the salary of Skilled Workers on the basis that the worker qualifies for one of the lower salary thresholds, a new application will have to be submitted.
If you have any queries in relation to these matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.