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Immigration Rules: Statement of Changes

Volume 700: debated on Friday 10 September 2021

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.

We have made changes to the immigration rules which will align the travel document requirements for most EEA and Swiss citizens with those which apply to other third country nationals.

From 1 January 2021, the Government have implemented a single global points-based immigration system.

Inconsistency in the design and security features of EEA national identity cards gives rise to document security risks, and the need for manual processing increases border queues. We therefore announced in October 2020 we would be phasing out the use of most EEA and Swiss national identity cards for entry to the UK.

The changes mean that, from 1 October 2021, EEA and Swiss citizens outside of those with status under the EU settlement scheme or rights under the withdrawal agreements will, like other nationalities, need a passport to demonstrate nationality and identity at the UK border, rather than use a national identity card.

We have also made a change to the immigration rules which reflects the change in the security situation in Afghanistan, by making changes to allow current and former Afghan locally employed staff (LES) and their family members who are outside Afghanistan to relocate to the UK under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy and the ex gratia scheme. The schemes had previously only been available to those in Afghanistan.

Further to this we are also making a further change to grant indefinite leave to enter the UK to LES who are approved for relocation to the UK. This will replace the five years’ limited leave they are currently granted. Those already in the UK will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain before their limited leave expires if they choose to.

These changes emphasise the UK commitment to supporting LES and their families to settle in the UK, and our gratitude for the support they provided to UK forces in Afghanistan.

We are launching the new international sportsperson visa category which will amalgamate and replace the tier 2 and tier 5 categories for professional sporting workers with simplified, dedicated visa arrangements.

The tier 5 visa routes are being rebranded to deliver a package of temporary work routes, providing a better service for customers through simplified rules that are aligned with the new points-based system.

We are also launching a dedicated temporary worker-creative worker visa category, tailored to creative workers to better serve the needs of the sector.

Consequential amendments are being made to appendix AR to provide a right of administrative review for eligible decisions under the new international sportsperson route and the rebranded temporary worker routes.

Some changes are being made in respect of the EU settlement scheme (EUSS), which enables EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period, and their family members, to obtain the UK immigration status they need to continue living in the UK.

The changes reflect in the immigration rules for the EUSS, in appendix EU, the concession outside the rules for applicants whose continuous residence in the UK has been affected by coronavirus (covid-19) which was published in guidance on 10 June 2021. This will ensure, in a range of circumstances where, due to covid-19, the applicant would have exceeded the permitted absence from the UK, and broken their period of continuous residence, they will continue to qualify for status under the EUSS.

The changes also allow a joining family member to apply to the EUSS whilst in the UK as a visitor, replacing the concession to this effect outside appendix EU currently set out in guidance.

Technical changes are being made to reflect the passing of the 30 June 2021 deadline for applications to the EUSS by those resident in the UK by the end of the transition period (though a late application can still be made where there are reasonable grounds why the person missed that deadline), and to reflect the fact that a person who is exempt from immigration control can, if they wish, apply to the EUSS whilst they remain exempt or they can apply once they have ceased to be exempt.

Changes are being made to the youth mobility scheme (YMS) to rebrand the route from T5 (temporary worker) youth mobility scheme to youth mobility scheme.

We are also expanding our YMS to include new arrangements with Iceland and India. This will deliver on international commitments made via a memorandum of understanding with Iceland and mobility agreements with India. Both schemes are expected to launch on 1 January 2022.

The YMS update will also allow citizens and nationals or the rightful holder of a passport issued by a territory, without deemed sponsorship status, to apply for this route from any post that accepts such applications worldwide.

The allocations for 2022 have also been updated in appendix youth mobility scheme: eligible nationals.

Finally, following a concession made outside the rules to allow the partner and, if applicable, child under 18 of a British national (overseas) (BN(O)) status holder to join the BN(O) status holder following a grant on the Hong Kong British national (overseas) route, this has now been incorporated into the immigration rules for the BN(O) route.