New Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules published: Student and Skilled Worker route changes

BUSINESS AND PERSONAL IMMIGRATION, 17 JULY 2023

A new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules has been published on 17 July 2023.

The key changes discussed here concern changes to the Student and Skilled Worker routes.  The changes also include updates to the Shortage Occupation List following an interim review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).


Changes to the Student route

The following changes are being made to the Student route in response to the Government’s commitment to reduce net migration:

  • From 17 July 2023, removing the ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work routes from within the UK, generally before their studies have been completed; and
  • For course start dates on or after 1 January 2024, removing the right for international students to bring dependants to the UK unless they are studying on postgraduate courses designated as research programmes.

Changes to the Student route (switching from 17 July 2023)

Students in the UK on the student immigration route can ‘switch’ (change route) to work routes if they meet all the relevant immigration requirements.

From 17 July 2023, switching restrictions have been implemented to ensure that students cannot switch from within the UK to the Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility Worker, Scale-Up Worker or International Sportsperson routes until they have completed their courses.  Alternatively, students on courses at degree level or above will be able to apply before course completion to switch, as long as their employment start date is not before their course completion date and those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch after 24 months’ study in the UK on their PhD course.

Similar restrictions have been implemented also from 17 July 2023, to ensure that students applying to switch from within the UK to the Global Talent or High Potential Individual routes or to a dependant of a Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility Worker, Scale-Up Worker, Creative Worker, International Sportsperson, Global Talent, High Potential Individual or UK Ancestry migrant must have either completed their course of study or if the course was leading to a PhD award, they have completed at least 24 months’ study in the UK on their PhD course.

The above requirements apply to applications for permission to stay submitted on or after 17 July 2023.

Changes to the Student route (dependants from 1 January 2024)

From 17 July 2023, international students with a course start date in the UK on or after 1 January 2024 will no longer have the right to bring their partners and children as dependants to the UK during their course unless their educational sponsor has confirmed the course is a PhD or other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree.   To assist with this, Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) information will be updated to include whether the course of study is a PhD or other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree.

There will no effect on those students making applications relating to courses starting in autumn 2023.

It is considered that this change preserves the ability for dependants already in the UK to extend their stay, and for international students on taught postgraduate courses beginning before 1 January 2024 to bring dependants.


Changes to the Skilled Worker route (Shortage Occupation List additions)

Following recommendations by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), all jobs in the following occupations in construction are being added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on 7 August 2023:

  • 5312 Bricklayers and masons – all jobs
  • 5313 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – all jobs
  • 5315 Carpenters and joiners – all jobs
  • 5319 Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified – all jobs
  • 5321 Plasterers – all jobs

Following a further recommendation by the MAC, dryliners are being reclassified to the same occupation code as plasterers, making dryliners also eligible to be sponsored for the Skilled Worker route and included on the SOL.

To support the fishing industry, jobs in the following occupations are also being added to the SOL for all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on 7 August 2023:

  • 5119 Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified – only jobs in the fishing industry
  • 9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified – only deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) where the job requires the worker to have at least 3 years’ full-time experience in using their skills

What is the Shortage Occupation List (SOL)?

The SOL lists jobs that the UK Government deems are in short supply within the UK labour market and where immigration is a sensible part of addressing that shortage. For jobs on the SOL, there are 20% lower salary requirements and lower visa application fees when applying for a Skilled Worker visa.

How can we help?

We can provide comprehensive advice and support to current students seeking to switch to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK and to students and their dependants seeking to apply to study and live in the UK based on a Student visa.  We can advise on how the changes affect you and ensure that your application complies with all eligibility and validity requirements to obtain a successful outcome.

For more detailed UK immigration advice and for any other questions on this and other UK immigration developments, please contact us at info@viajeukimmigration.com