The changes to immigration rules will come into effect on various dates from 28 September 2023, with a focus on ETA requirements.
The Home Office published its latest statement of changes to the immigration rules HC 1780, on 7 September 2023. The main changes are explained in the explanatory memorandum as those in relation to Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) requirements and to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).
Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA)
A new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will be launched next month. It is being introduced in a phased manner on a nationality basis and will apply to all individuals visiting the UK or travelling through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays and do not have any other immigration status before travelling.
Residents of Qatar travelling to the UK will require an ETA from 15 November 2023, with applications opening from 25 October 2023. Residents of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates will require an ETA from 22 February 2024 and may apply from 1 February 2023. Residents of any other country do not need to apply for an ETA now. More nationalities will be added to the scheme later.
Changes have been made to clarify that the ETA exemption for applicants lawfully resident in Ireland and travelling within the Common Travel Area, if aged 16 or above, must demonstrate residency in Ireland, if required by a UK official, in order to benefit from the exemption.
EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permits
The EUSS, enables EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens who were living in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to obtain immigration status.
Changes are being implemented with the effect of removing of the right of administrative review for EUSS eligibility refusals and relevant cancellation decisions made on or after 5 October 2023. A right of redress will continue to be provided through a right of appeal, in line with the Citizens' Rights Agreements. The changes will create streamlined arrangements for challenging a decision. This is in line with the approach taken in the rest of the UK immigration system, where there is no dual right of redress.
Some minor, technical amendments will be made to Appendix EU for clarification purposes.
S2 Healthcare Visitor route
The S2 Healthcare Visitor route provides a route of entry to the UK for people who, before the end of the transition period, had requested authorisation from their EEA home state or Switzerland to receive a course of planned healthcare treatment provided by the NHS under the 'S2 arrangement'. The same changes applied to the EUSS will apply to this route, so there will no longer be a dual right of redress.
A new cross-cutting Appendix Children has been introduced to "include common requirements for both children applying as dependants of a lead applicant, and children applying in their own right. Common requirements for dependent children relate to age, independent life, care, and relationship requirements. A common parental consent requirement will apply where a child is applying for entry clearance or permission to stay in their own right. No policy changes have been made to these requirements, but this approach will provide clarity and consistency."
At the outset, Appendix Children will apply to over 20 routes, and will be extended to further routes in the future.
Pre-1997 Gurkhas, Hong Kong military unit veterans and family members
The pre-1997 Gurkha settlement concession is being brought into the immigration rules. The policy to cover pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units is also being extended, as announced in March 2023.
This is in recognition that Hong Kong veterans have similar circumstances to Gurkhas, stationed in Hong Kong prior to handover to China, although never based in the UK.
Those eligible who were discharged before 1 July 1997, will be able to settle in the UK. The provisions of the settlement concession that already exists for former Gurkhas and their families to Hong Kong military unit veterans and their families are being extended. These are being brought together under the rules to provide greater transparency for these routes and fairness of treatment.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.