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Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

Statement made on 17 July 2023

Statement UIN HCWS954


My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules.

Changes to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permit

We are making certain changes to the EUSS, which enables EU, other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens living in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to obtain immigration status. In particular, meeting the deadline for the application (or, in line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, having reasonable grounds for the delay in making an application) will become a requirement for making a valid application. Consistent with the Agreements, this will enable us to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for a late application as a preliminary issue, before going on to consider whether a valid application meets the relevant eligibility and suitability requirements. We will also prevent a valid application as a joining family member being made by an illegal entrant to the UK, thereby reinforcing our approach to tackling illegal migration.

We are closing the EUSS on 8 August 2023 to new applications under two routes not covered by the Agreements: family member of a qualifying British citizen (on their return to the UK having exercised free movement rights in the EEA or Switzerland, known as ‘Surinder Singh’ cases) and primary carer of a British citizen (known as ‘Zambrano’ cases). The UK made generous transitional provisions enabling such persons to access the EUSS for more than four years. It is now appropriate, as a matter of fairness to other British citizens wishing to sponsor foreign national family members to settle in the UK, that any new applications should have to meet the family Immigration Rules applicable to others. The routes will remain open to those who are already on them (or with a pending application, administrative review or appeal) or who have pending access to them via a relevant EUSS family permit.

The EUSS family permit will also close on 8 August 2023 to new applications by a family member of a qualifying British citizen. Those granted an EUSS family permit as such a family member via an application made by this date will still be able to come to the UK and apply to the EUSS.

Extension of the Ukraine Extension Scheme

We are extending the application deadline for the Ukraine Extension Scheme for a further six months to 16 May 2024.

This change extends the scheme to allow Ukrainian nationals and their family members who obtain permission to enter or stay in the UK for any period between 18 March 2022 and 16 November 2023 to apply to the Ukraine Extension Scheme and obtain 36 months' permission to stay in the UK. All applications must now to be made by 16 May 2024.

The extension to the application deadline is intended to encourage people to apply for leave under the Ukraine Extension Scheme to ensure they maintain a lawful immigration status. This will provide greater certainty and clarity for the individual, the Home Office and other Government Departments and organisations which require evidence of immigration status to confirm entitlement to services.

Student route (dependants and switching)

As announced by the Home Secretary on the 23 May 2023, and following the Government’s commitment to reduce net migration, we are removing the right for international students to bring dependants unless they are on postgraduate courses currently designated as research programmes. We are also removing the ability for international students to switch out of the student route into work routes before their studies have been completed.

These changes preserve 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. They also preserve existing exemptions for dependants of government-sponsored students and for dependent children who are born in the UK.

The switching restrictions will ensure that students are generally not switching in-country to another route until they have completed their course. Students on courses at degree level or above will be able to apply before course completion to switch to sponsored work routes, as long as their employment start date is not before course completion. Those studying towards PhDs will be able to switch after 24 months’ study.

Asylum - pausing the differentiation policy

Provisions within the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (NABA), which came into force on 28 June 2022, set out the framework to differentiate between two groups of refugees who ultimately remain in the UK: “Group 1” and “Group 2”.

The primary way in which the Groups are differentiated is the grant of permission to stay: Group 1 refugees are normally granted refugee permission to stay for five years, after which they can apply for settlement, whereas Group 2 refugees are normally granted temporary refugee permission to stay for 30 months on a 10-year route to settlement.

The differentiation policy was intended to disincentivise migrants from using criminal smugglers to facilitate illegal journeys to the UK. This was the right approach. Since then, the scale of the challenge facing the UK, like other countries, has grown – and that is why the Government introduced the Illegal Migration Bill. The Bill goes further than ever before in seeking to deter illegal entry to the UK, so that the only humanitarian route into the UK is through a safe and legal one. The Bill will radically overhaul how we deal with people who arrive in the UK illegally via safe countries, rendering their asylum and human rights claims (in respect of their home country) inadmissible and imposing a duty on the Home Secretary to remove them. This approach represents a considerably stronger means of tackling the same issue that the differentiation policy sought to address: people making dangerous and unnecessary journeys through safe countries to claim asylum in the UK.

We will therefore pause the differentiation policy in the next package of Immigration Rules changes in July 2023. This means we will stop taking grouping decisions under the differentiated asylum system after these Rules changes and those individuals who are successful in their asylum application, including those who are granted humanitarian protection, will receive the same conditions. Our ability to remove failed asylum applicant remains unchanged.

Individuals who have already received a “Group 2” or humanitarian protection decision under post-28 June 2022 policies will be contacted and will have their conditions aligned to those afforded to “Group 1” refugees. This includes length of permission to stay, route to settlement, and eligibility for Family Reunion.

On 23 February 2023 the Home Office announced the streamlined asylum processing model for a small number of cases of nationalities with high asylum grant rates: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Because this model focuses on manifestly well-founded cases, positive decisions can be taken without the need for an additional interview. No one will have their asylum application refused without the opportunity of an additional interview.

Those claims made between 28 June 2022 and the date of introduction of the Illegal Migration Bill (7 March 2023) will be processed according to this model. This will also include claimants from Sudan. Sudanese legacy claimants are already being processed in-line with established policies and processes and will be decided in-line with the Prime Minister’s commitment to clear the backlog of legacy asylum claims by the end of 2023.

Improving clarity regarding withdrawing asylum claims

The updated paragraph 333C provides clarity on the circumstances in which an asylum application will be withdrawn, whilst strengthening our ability to promptly withdraw asylum applications from individuals who do not comply with established processes.

It clarifies that there will be no substantive consideration of asylum claims that have been withdrawn and provides greater flexibility to accept explicit withdrawals where a claimant requests to withdraw their claim in writing but fails to do so on a specified form, in doing so preventing duplicative correspondence with the claimant.

In addition, the updates will support the efficient progression of applications by helping to prevent absconder scenarios by making it clear that the burden is on the claimant to keep the Home Office up-to-date with their contact details, and that failure to do so may result in a withdrawal of their asylum claim.

Furthermore, it is now made clear that failure to attend a reporting event may result in an asylum application being treated as implicitly withdrawn, ensuring efficiency with application progression through preventing potential absconder scenarios.

These changes will enable decision-making resources to be concentrated on those who genuinely wish to continue with their asylum claims in the United Kingdom.

The changes to the Immigration Rules are being laid on 17 July 2023.

The changes relating to Asylum - pausing the differentiation policy and the changes relating to Students will come into force at 3pm today.

The changes relating to the EUSS will come into effect on 9 August 2023.

All other changes will come into effect on 7 August 2023.

Statement from

Home Office

Linked statements

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords

Home Office
Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules
Lord Murray of Blidworth
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Migration and Borders
Conservative, Life peer
Statement made 17 July 2023