The Latest November 2020 UK Visa News and Guidance (1 of 2)
The UK Government just introduced a number of substantial changes to the UK immigration system. I’ve created two articles covering this topic. This is the first article. You can read article two HERE.
As with the majority of changes in the UK immigration law, the Home Office will be implementing them gradually. Some will take effect from 9 am on 1st December 2020; some – from 11 pm on 31st December 2020 and 31st January 2021.
Changes are radical and substantial in many areas of UK immigration law. The UKVI’s document, outlining these changes consists of 510 pages. The purpose of this article is to give you an overview of forthcoming changes.
However, I do invite you to visit this website regularly, as, during the next 52 weeks, I intend to go more in-depth on all areas, which are subject to change.
General Grounds for Refusal (Part 9 of the Immigration Rules)
The majority of visa applicants need to meet three main requirements to succeed in their visa applications:
- The suitability requirements (not be caught by any general grounds for refusal)
- The eligibility requirements
- The procedure
The suitability requirements are mainly about proving that a person, wishing to enter the UK, will not endanger the UK society.
Mandatory Grounds for Refusal
The UK government imposed much stricter criminality requirements. In particular, UK immigration officers will refuse visa applications made outside the UK, permission to enter or stay in the UK if a person has been convicted of a criminal offence (in any country) for which they have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more.
The same rule applies to persistent offenders and those who committed an offence, which caused serious harm.
Discretionary Grounds for Refusal
If a person committed a criminal offence for which they have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months, the Home Office has the discretion. It can either allow or refuse their visa applications.
More Relaxed Suitability Requirements for Visitors
Suppose a person makes an application to enter the UK as a visitor, for less than six months. In that case, the UKVI will disregard their criminal offences with custodial sentences of less than 12 months if more than 12 months have passed since the end of the custodial sentences.
The same rule applies to non-custodial sentences and out-of-court disposals that were recorded on their criminal record.
The Home Office introduced new wording, allowing to refuse applications where they suspect that a person concluded a sham marriage:
‘[a visa application] may be refused where the decision-maker is satisfied that it is more likely than not that the applicant is, or has been, involved in a sham marriage or sham civil partnership.
Customs Breaches Grounds
The Home Office introduces the new discretionary ground for refusing permission to enter the UK where a person has committed a customs breach. It is irrespective of whether or not a criminal prosecution was pursued.
Rough Sleeping in the UK
The UK Government has reserved a right to refuse permission to stay where they believe that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK.
Visitors Can Study up to 6 months
Those, who would like to visit the UK, can now study of up to six months under the standard visit route. These studies will need to take place at an accredited institution. There is no need for the institution to be an accredited one if they provide recreational courses (undertaken for leisure) that lasts no longer than 30 days.
International route drivers, who collect and deliver goods and passengers in and out of the UK can apply to enter the UK under the provisions of the standard visitor route.
Also, rather excitingly, volunteers no longer need to prove that their charitable work is an incidental one. They can now apply as standard visitors, where volunteering is the main reason for their visit.
Academic visitors can now extend their permission to stay in the UK up to a total of 12 months. It is provided they meet the following requirements:
- they are experts in their field; and
- they were working in that field in an academic or higher education institution overseas before arrival in the UK
This is exciting news for all academic visitors as before only academics who were undertaking their own research in the UK whilst on sabbatical leave could extend their permission to stay beyond six months.
Marriage Visit Visa
From 1st July 2021, the EEA citizens will need to apply for a marriage visit visa to get married in the UK. This rule will apply to EEA citizens without the EUSS status. There is no need for Irish citizens to apply for a marriage visa.
A New Short-term Study Route
The new route will replace the current route, allowing students to come to the UK to study English language between 6 and 11 months. Students who want to study for less than six months will be able to do so as visitors.
The Parent of a Child Student Route
This route allows one parent to come to or stay in the UK to care for their child (or children). The rule applies to children between four and 11, those who attend an independent fee-paying school in the UK.
However, do bear in mind that parents with permission to stay as a visitor, short-term student, or a visa outside the Immigration Rules cannot switch to this route. They’ll need to leave the UK and reapply from their country of origin.
A parent will also need to meet the financial requirement for this route. It is £1,270 and £315 per month for those who apply outside the UK or those who have been living in the UK for less than 12 months.
Their visa will expire at the same time as that of the Child Student who they are coming to care for, or on the Child Student’s twelfth birthday, whichever is sooner.
The parent will no longer need to reapply every twelve months to remain in this category.
There were several positive changes in this area. All applications will now need to prove the required level of their English language proficiency only once. In the past, the applicants needed to do this every time when submitting their extension or switching visa applications.
Also, there were some updates to the majority English language country list. The list now includes Malta.
Additionally, all those who obtained their degree from Ireland will be able to rely on their degree as proof of their English language ability.
There is some excellent news for all GCSE/A level/Scottish Highers students. They can also rely on these qualifications to meet the English language requirement.
There will be a staged implementation of this change. Initially, this will only apply to those who apply from outside the UK to enter as Students, Skilled Workers, Start-Up and Innovators.
The Financial Requirement
There are more good news for Students, Skilled Workers, Intra-company, Tier 2 Minister of Religion and Tier 2 Sportsperson migrants, Tier 5 (Temporary Workers), Start-up and Innovator routes.
They will no longer need to meet the maintenance requirement if they have been supporting themselves and any dependents for more than a year.
Appendix Continuous Residence
The Home Office introduces the new Appendix Continuous Residence. This Appendix consolidates existing provisions. It will govern settlement applications for Skilled Workers, Representatives of an Overseas Businesses, Global Talent, Innovator; Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, UK Ancestry, Hong Kong British National (Overseas), and ECAA Extension of Stay applicants.