October 22

Changes to the Immigration Rules

In a 'Statement of Changes' published on 22 October 2020, the Home Office have announced a number of changes to the Immigration Rules that will come into effect from 01 December 2020.

The Statement of Changes is 514 pages long, but despite that when reading through the Explanatory Memorandum - the quick 52 page 'dummies' guide' that is published at the same time - many of the changes appear minor or cosmetic rather than a fundamental change in policy.


Study of up to six months will not be permitted under the standard visit route, but must be undertaken at an accredited institution (as now).  Leisure courses of up to 30 days are also permitted.

Volunteering can now be the main reason for a visit to the UK, rather than incidental as under the current Rules.

Drivers on international routes will be able to collect as well as deliver goods and passengers in and out of the UK.


The new Student and Child Student categories replaced Tier 4 on 05 October 2020, and are seeing their first amendment with effect from 01 December 2020.  The maintenance funds that need to be shown will now be £1334 per month in London, and £1023 outside London.

The restriction on working as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training is being removed for students and their dependants.


The Tier 2( General) category will close on 01 December 2020, to be replaced by the Skilled Worker category.  The new route is in the main very similar to the old one, as workers will still need to be sponsored by a licenced sponsor to do a specific job, and will need to meet the skill and salary level for that job.  

The main difference between Tier 2(General) and the Skilled Worker routes is that the minimum skills threshold is being lowered from graduate occupations to those skilled at RQF level 3.  A formal qualification is not needed - it is the skill level of the job that will determine whether the threshold is met.  The minimum salary is being lowered from £30,000 to £25,600, though a lower salary can be 'traded' for higher qualifications or a job on the shortage list to reach the 70 points that are needed - so, strangely, the more qualified you are or the more needed your skills are, the less you need to be paid to meet the threshold.

The Resident Labour Market Test, which required jobs to be offered to the settled population before recruiting from overseas, is being removed.  Sponsors must still be seeking to fill a genuine vacancy which meets the skill and salary thresholds.

The 12 month "cooling off period", which only permitted sponsored workers to remain for six years and then spend 12 months outside the UK, is being removed, so that there is no restriction on the length of time a person can spend in the UK as a Skilled Worker.

Settlement will be easier, with the salary threshold being lowered from £35,800 to a salary that equals or exceeds £25,600 per year and is at the going rate for the occupation.

General Grounds for Refusal

Part 9 of the Immigration Rules sets out the general grounds for refusal - reasons why your application can be refused even if you meet all the requirements.  Prison sentences of 12 months or more will now carry a lifetime ban (previously it was prison sentences of four year or more that led to a lifetime ban).  

There are also new grounds to refuse or cancel an application for being involved in a sham marriage, customs breaches and rough sleeping.


Immigration Rules, students, visitors, workers

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