Changes to the Immigration Rules - what you need to know - Boodle Hatfield

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Article
22 Mar 2023

Changes to the Immigration Rules – what you need to know

Written by

Zoe Jacob View profile
3 min read

The latest amendments to the Immigration Rules are due to come into force on different dates starting from 12 April 2023. The Statement of Changes which announced the same, numbered 188 pages in total. This article summarises the three most important changes contained in that document.

1. Introduction of the Innovator Founder Route

The Innovator and Start Up Routes, which immigration practitioners have consistently criticised due to the inflexibility and commercial impracticality of the relevant criteria, are being replaced with the new Innovator Founder route. Critically, this route removes the £50k minimum investment currently applied to those coming to the UK to establish an innovative business. The restrictions on undertaking secondary employment whilst the innovative business is in its growth phase have also been relaxed. The requirement of endorsement by a registered 'Endorsing Body' however, remains. 

The hope is that this route will attract a greater number of innovative business people to the UK than its predecessor; in 2022 only 299 were granted visas under the Innovator route.

2. Salary threshold changes for sponsored workers

The minimum salary threshold for Skilled Workers has been raised from £25,600 to £26,200. There have also been increases in the salary threshold for sponsored workers in the Global Business Mobility ('GBM') categories - for example the salary for a UK Expansion Worker has been raised from £42,400 to £45,800. These changes were introduced to reflect wage inflation.

3. Introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation ('ETA') scheme

The ETA scheme introduces a 'pre-authorisation' element for visitors to the UK, who presently travel visa free. It also applies to non-visa nationals using the Creative Worker route to enter the UK for up to three months. 

In line with the Home Office's ongoing intention to digitalise the UK border, an ETA will be issued electronically for a period of two years (or less if the applicant's passport, to which the status will be linked, expires in that period). Applications will be made either online, or via the new ETA mobile app.

The long-term intention is that the scheme will apply to all non-visa nationals but it is being phased in. From 15 November 2023, it will apply to Qatari nationals, who will be able to apply under the scheme from 25 October 2023. It will then be rolled out to nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Nationals of these countries will be able to apply under the scheme from 1 February 2024 and must travel with an ETA after 1 February 2024.

The Home Office intends for the scheme to be fully operational by 31 December 2024.

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