2021 is an important year for the UK immigration system with many changes and updates to the Immigration Rules. Some of these changes cover different migration routes and we would like to breakdown the main key changes to the Immigration Rules that you should be aware of.

The Graduate Route

The Graduate route is new for 2021 and will be available to those students in the UK on a student visa who have completed a degree at undergraduate level (or above) at a UK higher education institution and wish to work here. PhDs and other doctoral graduates can apply for three years stay on a Graduate visa.

Applicants can work any job at any skill level with the exception of working as a doctor, dentist and sportsperson. Once the Graduate visa comes to an end, they will be able to switch into the skilled worker visa, provided they meet the requirements.

The Graduate route will be available to students from 1 July 2021.

Minimum hourly salary for Skilled Workers

The general minimum salary threshold for Skilled Workers may be £25,600, £23,040, £20,800 or £20,480, depending on the tradeable points option. From 6 April 2021, Skilled Workers’ salaries will need to equal or exceed both the general minimum salary threshold and £10.10 per hour.

The aim of this update is to ensure that migrant workers are protected from abuse and exploitation.

Recruitment Records for Skilled Workers

Since 1 December 2020, employers wishing to recruit migrant workers no longer needed to evidence the labour market test. It was previously necessary to establish that an advertising and recruitment process was followed to show that no resident workers were available for the job. The guidance has been updated and employers wishing to apply for a certificate of sponsorship to hire a migrant worker will need to provide some evidence of recruitment activity undertaken in respect of the advertisement and the interviewing process. The evidence must also show why the successful candidate was selected.

Expanded Shortage Occupation List For Skilled Workers

The shortage occupation list is an official list of occupations for which there are not enough UK workers to fill vacancies. Applicants under the shortage occupation list will receive an additional 20 points towards their work visa application.

The Home Office has added new roles to the shortage occupation list:

  • 1181 Health services and public health managers and directors – all jobs.
  • 1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors – all jobs.
  • 3111 Laboratory technicians – all jobs.
  • 6146 Senior care workers – all jobs.
  • 2213 Pharmacists – all jobs.
  • 2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classified – all jobs.
  • 2221 Physiotherapists – all jobs.
  • 6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants – all jobs.

This is a welcome change following the advice of the Migration Advisory Committee that a number of occupations should be added to the list to relieve the pressure of the end of freedom of movement.

Global Talent visa

The global talent visa allows applicants to work in the UK if they are leaders or potential leaders in one of the following fields:

  • Academia or research;
  • Arts and culture; or
  • Digital technology.

As part of the application process, an applicant will need to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body. Applicants who have “reached the pinnacles of their careers” can now also apply if they were awarded a prestigious prize listed in the Home Office’s publication Appendix Global Talent: Prestigious Prizes.

EU Settlement Scheme

With the deadline for EU nationals and their family members to apply under the EU settlement scheme ending at the end of June 2021, applicants will be able to use alternative forms of acceptable ID if they are unable to obtain or produce the required document due to circumstances beyond their control or due to compelling practical or compassionate reasons. This change allows eligible members to apply under the scheme where the required identity document is not available.

Hong Kong BN(O) Visa

Under the current Rules, BN(O) migrants do not have access to public funds. However, from 6 April 2021 migrants under this route will be able to apply to change the condition of their leave if they are able to show destitution or imminent risk of destitution.

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