Changes to the Immigration Rules – September 2021

The latest changes coming into force under the Immigration Rules were published on 10th September 2021, whilst many of the changes are minor or technical, others are aimed at increasing the scope of those eligible to work in the UK with entry and extension requirements being eased in certain routes whilst expanding others as the Home office try to attract and retain the best international talent.

We have aimed to summarise those that are most noteworthy with changes coming into effect on 1st October 2021.

Afghan support

To reflect the changing security situation in Afghanistan, the Home Office are enabling current and former Afghan locally employed staff and their family members who are outside Afghanistan to relocate to the United Kingdom under the Afghan relocations and assistance policy and the ex gratia scheme. The scheme has been extended as it previously only applied to those that were in Afghanistan. Those that are eligible and approved for relocation will be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain replacing the 5 years Leave to Remain that they are currently granted.

Coronavirus (COVID-10) Concessions

Several routes and application types were temporarily adjusted, and certain requirements were waived or eased under Covid concessions, many of these will now come to an end or will have subsequent consequences to include:

  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants whose businesses were negatively impacted during COVID-19 concessions were able to extend their leave with an eased requirement of having created the equivalent of two full-time jobs for settled workers at the time of application, without having to prove the job existed for a minimum period of 12 months. However, these applicants will now need to meet this requirement before they will be eligible to a settlement application.
  • The Covid concession allowed for EU nationals to make applications for pre settled or settled status with an easing of the rules for those that had excessive absences from the UK due to COVID. From 6 October 2021, this policy will cease to operate.
  • Between 24th January 2021 and 30th June 2021, Skilled Worker and Tier 2 Sportsperson applicants could start working for their sponsor while waiting for a decision on their application from the Home Office. The Indefinite Leave to Remain rules have been changed to allow these individuals who successfully applied during this period to include the time they were waiting for a decision towards the 5 years residency, as required for settlement.

EEA Citizens and identity requirements

  • Apart from a small number of exceptions that come under the Citizens right cohort EU nationals like the rest of the world will now need a passport to demonstrate their nationality and identity at the UK border.

Visitor Routes

  • The visitor rules are being updated to incorporate a concession in the Visit guidance, which allows students who are undertaking a course via distance learning to come to the UK to undertake activities relating to that course.
  • Nursing students can come to the UK as a visitor to undertake electives with a UK higher education provider, if these are unpaid and involve no treatment of patients. This will bring nursing students in line with medical, veterinary medicine and science, and dentistry students, who can already undertake these activities on the visitor route.

New International Sportsperson

  • The new International Sportsperson route will replace the current Tier 2 and Tier 5 Temporary Worker routes for professional sporting worker. The new route will offer applicants the option to come to the UK for 12 months or less, combining the Tier 2 and Tier 5 into one dedicated category.
  • The route will be a points-based route and there will be an English language requirement for applicants who apply for a stay in the UK that exceeds 12 months. It will also require an endorsement from a Sports Governing Body as we as a Certificate of Sponsorship from a sports club.

Youth Mobility

  • Iceland is being added to scheme without Deemed Sponsorship Status with an allocation of 1,000 places.
  • India is also being added to the scheme but invitation to apply arrangements will apply.

Global Talent Route

  • The route has been expanded and introduced a prestigious prizes option. Prestigious prize holders will not require an endorsement from an endorsing body.
  • To be eligible, prizes must be given to named individuals, and therefore the list does not include prestigious awards for specific works, such as an award-winning film, or prizes given to whole organisations, as such prizes recognise work created by the collective contribution of a number of individuals rather that the clear exceptional talent of a single applicant. Prizes included will be open to all nationalities and winners must be determined by experts or peers, rather than a public vote. The list will be kept under review and may be revised in future updates to the Rules.
  • Further changes will be made to the endorsement criteria and evidential requirements

Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Route

  • Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) now allows the partner or child under 18 of a BN(O) status holder to join the BN(O) status holder in the UK following a grant under this route.
  • Parents of a child born in the UK to a BN(O) status holder or their partner, or a BN(O) household member or their partner can regularise that child’s stay on the BN(O) route.

You can read more about the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules.

For further information or to discuss the issues raised by this update, please contact our Immigration team on 0118 977 4045 or

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

Usof Shah
Senior Solicitor, Immigration
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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter.

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