The latest in the regular changes to the Immigration Rules was set out on 10 October 2018. Master Legal Services has summarised and highlighted the relevant aspects of these changes. As mentioned in their statement, the main purpose of the change are as follows:
- EU Settlement Scheme- Phase 2: Implement the next phase of the EU Settlement Scheme
- Calais Leave: Introduce a form of leave to remain for those children transferred to the UK as part of the Calais camp clearance to reunite with family between 17 October 2016 and 13 July 2017 and who do not qualify for international protection (i.e. refugee status or humanitarian protection).
- Going Digital: Support the operation of the new application process in UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by amending the Rules on the requirements for a valid application.
- Make KoLL requirements more strict: Specify evidence for medical exemption from Knowledge of Language and/or Life in the UK (KoLL) requirements.
The EU Settlement Scheme- Phase 2:
The EU Settlement Scheme will enable EU citizens resident in the UK and their family members to obtain the UK immigration status they will require in order to live and work in the UK after the end of the planned implementation period on 31 December 2020.
At the moment, the Home Office is testing the implementation of this scheme before it is fully open by 30 March 2019. Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021.
They are now ready to implement phase 2 of the scheme. Those eligible to use this scheme are certain people which include staff in the higher education, health and social sectors across the UK, and “vulnerable individuals” supported by specific local authorities and community groups.
The explanatory notes to the changes state that the purpose is to “support the operation of the new application process in UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by amending the Rules on the requirements for a valid application.”
In her summary of the changes to the Immigration Rules, Caroline Nokes, The Minister of State for Immigration, has said that: “UK Visas and Immigration aims to deliver a world-class customer experience that is competitive, flexible and accessible; and the launch of these new, more efficient front-end services this November is a big step towards that goal”.
There are some key changes which assist the new applications processes that are being introduced to create a streamlined and efficient service. Some of these changes are:
- Enrol your Biometrics by appointment: The changes introduced the requirements for making a valid application under the new application process as a support to the new application process, which includes information in relation to the applicant making an appointment to attend in person to enrol their biometrics and submitting the required documents in support of their application.
- Matters concerning the fee waiver: an applicant who wishes to apply for a fee waiver as part of that application will have to submit that fee waiver request before the application for leave, and this will be considered first. The applicant will be notified of a decision on the request for a fee waiver, and will have 10 working days from the date they receive this notification to submit an application for leave.
- Documentary Evidence flexibility: To support the new application process as it can be difficult for applicants to obtain original documents, especially if they need to be obtained from overseas, the requirement to provide original documents is being removed and copies can be provided. If there are doubts about whether a document is genuine, verification rules will apply.
- Allowing caseworkers more flexibility: There is now a more open and generous approach for the caseworkers being introduced. Previously, the caseworkers were only allowed in particular circumstances to request additional information only once. These changes provide more flexibility to caseworkers regarding whether and when they may write to applicants to ask for any missing documents required, to be provided within a reasonable timeframe.
Stricter with KoLL requirements:
The explanatory memorandum to the changes is clear in stating that “The change aims to reduce the potential for abuse and exploitation by requiring requests to be supported by a specified type of medical professional”. The changes to Appendix KoLL states as follows:
“4.13ZA The information or evidence specified for the purposes of requesting an exception under Paragraph 3.1(c) of this appendix is to be provided on a copy of the form published on GOV.UK for this purpose which must be completed by a professional who is either:
who has met with the applicant in person, assessed their ability to fulfil the requirements set out in this appendix, and supports their request for an exception from either or both elements of KOLL on the basis that they have a condition which would prevent them from satisfying the requirements for the foreseeable future.”
It is expected that this implementation will improve customer service as it will reduce the number of times caseworkers will need to request exemption documents.
Whilst many of the changes are seemingly positive, there is one change that stands out. This is good for the NHS, but not great for the applicants!
The NHS Immigration Health surcharge (‘IHS’):
The IHS allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access NHS services in the same way as UK citizens.
Of the changes announced, it is hard to miss the increase in the IHS fee: from £200 to £400 per year for non-EU nationals, with students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme on the discounted rate of £300 per year.
Caroline Nokes states that “the extra money raised will go directly towards sustaining and protecting our world-class healthcare system”.
How can we help:
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