The United Kingdom has published a Statement of Changes to immigration rules, outlining clarifications and amendments to the EU Settlement Scheme and the Tier 2 route for skilled workers, among other programs.

Some of the key changes are as follows:

  • EU Settlement Scheme. In line with an April 4 announcement, the changes amend provisions on the EU Settlement Scheme for family members of U.K. nationals returning to the U.K. from an EEA member state or Switzerland.
    • In cases where the relationship with the U.K. national exists at the time of Brexit, family members will have access to the EU Settlement Scheme until March 29, 2022. This provision will apply whether there is a “deal” or “no-deal” Brexit.
    • In cases where the relationship with the U.K. national does not exist at the time of Brexit, family members will have access to the EU Settlement Scheme until Dec. 31, 2020. This provision will also apply whether there is a “deal” or “no-deal” Brexit.
  • Tier 2 (General) category – Ph.D.-level occupations. Effective Oct. 1, Ph.D.-level occupations will be removed from the Tier 2 cap of 20,700 visas per year. This change is part of the U.K.’s effort to show that it welcomes researchers and other highly skilled workers. The change will make it easier for employees to hire non-EU nationals in Ph.D.-level jobs and will free up cap space for other skilled workers.
  • Tier 2 (General) category – Shortage Occupation List. Effective Oct. 6, the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) will be expanded in line with recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) earlier this year. The expansion includes the addition to the list of a number of jobs in health, information technology and STEM fields. Employers may hire non-EEA nationals in jobs that are on the list without completing a labor market test and without being subject to the numerical cap on Tier 2 (General) visas. The full list is available here.
  • Tier 2 (General) category – English test for medical professionals. The changes will exempt doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives from having to sit for an English language test if they have already passed such a test administered by the relevant professional body. A corresponding change provides that doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives who have already passed an English language test will be deemed to have sufficient English skills for settlement.
  • Tier 2 (General) category – absences from employment. The changes make it clear that Tier 2 employees will not be penalized for certain absences from employment, including absences due to sickness, statutory parental leave, or engaging in legal strike action. This means, for example, that Tier 2 migrants would not be denied indefinite leave to remain if such absences caused their pay to drop below the required salary level for foreign workers in this category.
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category – closed. This category has closed for most initial applications. It remains open to existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants.
  • Tier 1 (Investor) category – U.K. Government bonds. Under changes made earlier this year, U.K. Government bonds can no longer be used for qualifying investments. The recent changes, however, will allow investors who made qualifying offers before those changes took effect to make extension or settlement applications, as long as they move their qualifying investments out of U.K. Government bonds before April 6, 2023 for extension applications, and April 6, 2025 for settlement applications. The changes also allow for investors who miss these deadlines to apply for extensions or settlement if they meet other conditions, including investing at least £2 million in qualifying investments before they apply for additional extensions and maintaining the full £2 million investment for the qualifying period required for settlement.

The full Statement of Changes is available here. An explanatory memorandum on the changes is available here.

Analysis & Comment: The clarification on the EU Settlement Scheme will provide some certainty for non-EU family members of U.K. nationals, especially given that the changes cover both the “deal” and “no deal” Brexit scenarios. The removal of Ph.D.-level jobs from the Tier 2 category and the expansion of the Shortage Occupation List could help some employers deal with labor shortages U.K. companies are currently experiencing. The change to English testing requirements for medical professionals will reduce administrative burdens for some foreign workers.

Source: Deloitte. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), its global network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL does not provide services to clients. Please see learn more. Deloitte Legal means the legal practices of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited member firms or their affiliates that provide legal services. For legal, regulatory and other reasons, not all member firms provide legal services. This communication contains general information only, and none of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms or their related entities (collectively, the “Deloitte network”) is, by means of this communication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your finances or your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No entity in the Deloitte network shall be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this communication. © 2019. For information, contact Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.