Sep 15 2021

Immigration Rules Changes Announced

United Kingdom

At a Glance

The UK government has published a Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules. Significant changes include:

  • a new requirement, effective October 1, 2021, that individuals entering the United Kingdom use their passport and not their national identification card (unless they are a European Economic Area national with a pending application or existing status under the EU Settlement Scheme);

  • a new rule that applicants who submit their applications on or after October 6, 2021 do not leave the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands);

  • the expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme to include Indian nationals, effective January 1, 2022; and

  • the transfer of several COVID-19 concessions to the Immigration Rules.

The situation

The UK government has published a Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules which builds upon the previous Statement of Changes published on March 4, 2021 and the new immigration system which opened on December 1, 2020. These changes will be implemented on October 6, 2021, unless otherwise indicated.

A closer look 

Below is a summary of the key changes:

Change Impact
Evidence of identity and nationality requirements. From October 1, 2021, individuals will only be able to enter the United Kingdom using their passport. National identity cards will no longer be accepted, unless they are a European Economic Area (EEA) national with a pending application or visa under the EU Settlement Scheme or Frontier Worker Permit Scheme. EEA nationals have been able to enter the United Kingdom using their national identification card.  From October 1, 2021, they will no longer be able to do this.
In-country applicants unable to travel while application pending.  In-country applicants who submit any visa extension application or after October 6, 2021 cannot leave the Common Travel Area (the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands). If they do, their application will be deemed as withdrawn. In-country applicants will have to remain in the United Kingdom several more weeks, since previously, in-country applicants only needed to remain in the United Kingdom during the period between their biometrics appointment and the date of decision.

New International Sportsperson route and rebranding of the Tier 5 routes.

  • The new International Sportsperson route will replace the T2 and T5 Temporary Worker routes for professional athletes with simplified, dedicated visa arrangements.
  • The new route will continue to offer a dedicated option for those seeking to stay in the United Kingdom for 12 months or less but will combine the T2 and T5 offers into one dedicated category.
  • The Tier 5 Temporary Worker routes are being rebranded with the launch of new application forms and all references to the old T5 system will be removed.
These changes streamline the rules for entry to the United Kingdom as an athlete.

Global Talent Route. The evidential requirements for digital technology endorsements are being amended to:

  • Include being a board member of a product-led digital technology company as a role that can be used to evidence an exceptional talent in this field.
  • Reduce the number of examples required for each of the exceptional promise criteria from at least two to at least one.
  • The list of “Prestigious Prizes” has been significantly expanded, particularly related to science, engineering, humanities and medicine.
These changes will lower the barriers to entry and increase the number of applicants to the Global Talent visa route.
Youth Mobility Scheme. Effective January 1, 2022, this route will be rebranded and named the Youth Mobility Scheme.
  • Iceland is being added to the Youth Mobility scheme country list as a country without Deemed Sponsorship Status with an allocation of 1,000 places.
  • India is being added to the list of countries where invitation to apply arrangements apply (similar to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong) with 3,000 places respectively.

This will open up access to the Youth Mobility scheme to applicants from more countries.

Afghan citizens.
  • To reflect the changing security situation in Afghanistan, the UK government will enable current and former Afghan Locally Employed Staff (LES) 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.
  • Those who are approved for relocation to be granted indefinite leave to enter the United Kingdom, replacing the five years’ limited leave they are currently granted. Those already in the United Kingdom will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain before their limited leave expires if they choose to do so.
  • These changes will provide further support and emphasise the United Kingdom’s commitment to supporting LES and their families to settle in the United Kingdom.
  • The schemes had previously only been available to those in Afghanistan. These changes allow eligible applicants greater flexibility in relocating to the United Kingdom given the current security situation in Afghanistan.
COVID-19 concessions. The UK government has transferred various COVID-19 concessions, which are currently provided only in temporary guidance, into the Immigration Rules. This includes rules on Skilled Worker Visa applicants, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders whose business had been negatively impacted by the pandemic and foreign nationals under the EU Settlement Scheme. These changes clarify eligibility requirements for certain individuals as they approach settlement in the United Kingdom and incorporate the concessions set out in the guidance into the Immigration Rules.  This gives additional certainty to individuals who were affected by COVID-19-related immigration impacts.


UK Immigration Rules are often changed multiple times a year, via Statement of Changes, which lists the amendments that will be incorporated into updated Immigration Rules on the specified implementation date.

Looking ahead 

The UK government will release detailed guidance on the above and other rules. Fragomen will report on relevant developments.


This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact your Fragomen immigration professional or send an email to [email protected].