Immigration Health Surcharge Increase and other UKVI updates
Increase to Visa Application Fees
New Home Office fees introduced by the government recently came into effect as of the 4th October 2023. This change in immigration and nationality fees has had a direct effect on all application submission, priority service and certificate of sponsorship fees, which have seen up to a 20% increase. Some key figures to note are:
• Skilled Worker Entry Clearance, 3 years or less: £719 (£94 increase)
• Skilled Worker In-country, 3 years or less: £827 (£108 increase)
• Indefinite Leave to Remain: £2,885 (£481 increase)
• Naturalisation/British Citizenship: £1,500 (£250 increase)
Fees for priority service have also been increased, now standing at £500 for both Entry Clearance and In-Country applications. Super priority service, where available, is now £1000 up from £800.
For applications that require a Certificate of Sponsorship, the cost of a CoS has also risen to £239 from £199.
Additionally, the immigration health surcharge is expected to rise significantly during January 2024 under the Immigration Health Charge (Amendment Order) 2023. We can expect the policy to take effect from 16th January 2024 onwards, subject to it passing through parliament. If so, the IHS fee is predicted to increase from £624 to £1035 per year for applicants over 18.
New Restrictions on Student Visas
Tighter government restrictions on those in the UK holding a student visa came into force July this year. The changes come in an attempt to reduce net migration whilst maintaining the government’s ability to meet its International Education requirements, but has had a significant impact on students’ flexibility in the UK.
Firstly, the new reforms prohibit international students from switching to a different visa route once inside the UK before they complete their studies. Before July, it was possible for students to switch over to another visa once in the UK. Now, when switching, students must be able to prove they have finished their course which will be determined only by the date on their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). International students are still able to work their permitted 20 hours per week on their student visa.
Additionally, undergrad students on degree courses are unable to sponsor partners or children and bring them to the UK on a dependent visa. This rule has not been put in place for postgrad students or those on a government-sponsored course which is longer than 6 months.
Graduate visas & New Entrants
Skilled worker applicants who are under the age of 26, sponsored for a post-doctoral position or working toward a recognised professional qualification within a UK-regulated profession, may class as a ‘new entrant’ which defines someone as new to the UK labour market. An applicant can qualify as a new entrant for a maximum of 4 years only which used to include any time previously spent on a Tier 2/Skilled Worker route.
As of 2023, any time an applicant spends in the UK on a graduate visa will now count towards this 4-year period, in addition to time spent on other visa routes. Classifying as a new entrant allows applicants to qualify for a skilled worker visa but on a lower salary, as they are typically younger and new to the workforce.
Free movement between the UK and EU will end on 31st December 2020 and from 1st January 2021, both EU and non-EU citizens will require a visa to work, study, or join family in the UK. EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals living in the UK before 1st January 2021 can continue to apply to the EU settlement Scheme up until 30th June 2021.
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