Round up of the latest immigration news

It's been a busy month for business immigration. This article addresses the key points that have been released throughout March 2021. Namely, that the government issued a new Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules (which makes various amendments to existing visa routes).There is a new travel declaration form which has to be completed for those leaving England before they arrive at the airport, a call for evidence on the Intra-Company Transfer route and various changes to guidance for both sponsors and employers.

In addition, Rishi Sunak delivered his latest budget which confirmed that some new immigration categories will be introduced throughout the next 18 months. For further details on the budget updates relating to immigration, please follow this link here.

New Statement of Changes

The government issued a new Statement of Changes at the beginning of March 2021 and below we have summarised some of the key changes of note:

Skilled Worker route (from 6 April 2021)

  • There is a new minimum hourly rate of £10.10 subject to transitional provisions. This will be most relevant to those sponsored workers that fall within the tradeable points option, as a 39-hour week on £10.10 per hour equates to the minimum salary of £20,480. The government’s intention is to safeguard employees from receiving the minimum salary but having to work longer hours to achieve it.


  • The Shortage Occupation List will have eight new occupations added across the health and care sectors, with additional occupations added for modern foreign language teachers and lab technicians. Chefs are being removed from the Shortage Occupation List, but will remain eligible under the skilled occupations. We do not expect any further changes to the list in 2021 as the next full review, is confirmed to take place in 2022.


  • In an appreciation to the fishing and farming industry, deckhands on large fishing vessels and chicken sexers were added to the list of professions eligible for sponsorship.


  • If a sponsor wants to reduce a sponsored worker’s salary, they must still meet the same minimum threshold which was applicable in the last application (i.e. if previously £30,000, that salary cannot be reduced). Otherwise, a fresh application will be required.

Graduate route (applications open from 1 July 2021)

  • As was expected, international students who have successfully completed a degree level course with a student sponsor can apply for a further two years permission (three years for those awarded doctorates) to stay in the UK without needing sponsorship. Unfortunately, graduates whose Tier 4 or Student visa expires before 1 July 2021 will not be eligible to apply.


  • The new Graduate visa will allow successful applicants to look for work, or indeed work, at any skill level and salary, with any UK employer. This is a route that many employers are awaiting, especially those without a sponsorship licence, as this will allow them the ability to recruit bright students in the early stages of their career, for a short-term, without needing to adhere to the more onerous sponsorship responsibilities and duties.

Other substantive changes – put in campaign block

  • Changes to Global Talent route include introduction of Prestigious Prizes list. This announces that winners of certain prizes will not need endorsement from an Endorsing Body and can apply directly for a visa. The list includes prizes such as Nobel Prize, Grammy, Golden Globe, Turing Award etc. Whilst a helpful update, for the majority, the relatively onerous step of gaining endorsement from an Endorsing Body before applying for a visa will still be required.


  • A change to the Innovator route adds a requirement that applicants must be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team of the business endorsed by an endorsing body. This prevents applicants from joining an existing business and applying for endorsement as a director, but not founder of the business

New Travel Declaration Form

From 8 March 2021, passengers travelling internationally (including essential travel for business) from England must carry a form stating that their trip is permitted under the rules implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The form must be completed before travel and carried or downloaded on to a mobile. Failure to carry a completed form could carry a fine starting at £200 (but ranging up to £6,400!) This new travel declaration form can be access here.

Migration Advisory Committee ("MAC") launches call for evidence

The MAC has launched a call for evidence on the Intra-Company Transfer immigration route. The MAC are seeking responses and views from anyone with relevant knowledge of this immigration route, whether that's as an employer or representatives on behalf of other organisations, to help inform the MAC's response. There are two online questionnaires where your responses can be populated, Annex A and Annex B, which can be accessed here. The deadline for responses is 15 June 2021.

Updates to Guidance

The Sponsor Guidance for Workers and Temporary Workers was updated on 16 March 2021 to provide clarity on record keeping duties of recruitment activity. The Home Office issued a new section within Appendix D, part 2(b) covering documents that must be retained in relation to recruitment where a resident labour market test is not required (i.e. any vacancies from 1 December 2020). Sponsors will be aware that the resident labour market test was abolished under the new immigration system, but the lack of change to Appendix D until now, meant that records of the advertisement process were still relatively stringent.

This update will undoubtedly be welcome news for sponsors, as the new section is generally less onerous, but importantly sponsors will still need to retain some evidence of how they identified that a worker was suitable for the role. The link to this updated version of Appendix D can be found here.

On 17 March 2021, the Home Office updated its guidance (specifically pages 34 – 35) on right to work checks for EEA nationals during 1 January to 30 June 2021, who are eligible to apply under the EUSS. During this period EEA citizens are able to show just their passport or national ID card in order for the employer to obtain a statutory excuse against a civil penalty for illegal working. The guidance confirms that further updates ahead of 30 June 2021 will be available in due course. The updated guidance can be found here.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of this article or have any other immigration queries, please get in touch with Gemma Robinson in our team.

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