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Timeline of policy and legislative changes affecting migration to the UK (1983 to 2024)

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This post provides a scrollable timeline of 40 years of immigration law and policy. The information in the post is a copy of the Home Office's comprehensive timeline of changes to policy and legislation affecting migration to the UK from 1983 to the current day.

You can click on a year below to jump to the information for that year.

Go to year: 198319881993199519961998200020022003200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920202021202220232024

  • January 1983

    The British Nationality Act 1981: replaced citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies with three separate citizenships: (1) British citizenship, for people closely connected with the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man; (2) British overseas territories citizenship, for people connected with the British overseas territories and (3) British overseas citizenship, for those citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies without connections to either the United Kingdom or the British overseas territories.

    Certain entitlements to citizenship, which had existed before 1 January 1983, were extended for a transitional period which, in most cases, ended on 31 December 1987.

  • July 1988

    The Immigration Act 1988: repealed section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971, which provided that Commonwealth citizens settled in the United Kingdom (and their spouses and children) should not, as a result of the Act, be less free to come into or go from the United Kingdom than if the Act had not been passed. The effect of the repeal of section 1(5) was a reduction in the number of people, particularly wives, accepted for settlement on arrival, and an increase in the numbers of such people accepted after serving a probationary year.

  • July 1993

    The Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993: this Act restricted the appeal rights of people seeking to enter the country as a visitor or a short-term or prospective student.

  • June 1995

    Launch of Mandate Resettlement Scheme for recognised refugees who have close family members living in the UK.

  • February 1996

    The Department of Social Security (now part of the Department for Work and Pensions) withdrew a range of non-contributory benefits from after-entry asylum seekers and from asylum seekers whose application had been refused and who were appealing against that refusal. These regulations were confirmed by the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996.

  • July 1996

    The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 introduced among other things (1) an extension of the accelerated appeals procedure to a wider range of refused asylum applications; (2) the designation by the Secretary of State, with the approval of Parliament, of selected countries of destination where there is generally no serious risk of persecution – refusals of such cases being liable to the accelerated appeals procedure; and (3) restricting appeals against return to a safe third country within the European Union and other countries so designated.

  • July 1998

    The White Paper entitled 'Fairer, Faster and Firmer – A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum' was published. It made a number of proposals relating to asylum, several of which were implemented immediately. These had the effect of abolishing the four-year qualifying period for grants of settlement to those recognised as refugees and given asylum and reducing it from seven to four years for those granted exceptional leave.

  • October 2000

    Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 superseded all previous legislation on asylum appeals. It introduced a comprehensive 'one-stop' appeals process replacing the previous system of multiple appeals. Applicants are required to state all the reasons, outside the scope of the original application, why they wish to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. An applicant can make only one application. Anything he/she says to add to it or change it, prior to a decision being made, is a variation of that application that will attract only one decision and one appeal.

    Section 10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 introduced new arrangements for overstayers, people who fail to observe the conditions attached to their leave, and people who, having entered lawfully in the first instance, subsequently obtain further leave by deception, all of whom would previously have been liable to deportation.

  • June 2002

    There are certain breaks in some of the series. Swiss nationals are excluded from the figures from 1 June 2002 (when an agreement giving them the same rights as EEA nationals came into force).

  • November 2002

    The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 amended the British Nationality Act 1981 and requires all successful applicants for British citizenship who are aged 18 or over to take an oath and pledge at a citizenship ceremony, unless exempted by the Home Secretary. The ceremony is organised by County Councils and Local Authorities within the United Kingdom and Gibraltar. Ceremonies for grants of applications made abroad are held at the local consulate. Also introduced was the requirement that applicants for British citizenship provide evidence of their knowledge of life and language in the United Kingdom either by passing the 'Life in the UK test' or an 'English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)' course which includes citizenship materials, unless they qualify for an exemption.

    Paragraph 8 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 amended paragraph 3(1)(b) of Schedule 2 to the British Nationality Act 1981 (application by person born in United Kingdom or overseas territory for registration as citizen: age requirement) changing the age requirement from between 10 and 22 years to under 22 years.

  • December 2002

    Nationals from Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania became eligible to enter the United Kingdom as au pairs.

  • April 2003

    The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act (NIA) 2002 came fully into force. It built upon the 'one-stop' system of the 1999 Act with a single right of appeal which could be brought on one or more well-known grounds restated in section 84 of the Act. As previously, an appellant could raise further grounds of appeal in a 'one-stop' statement that the adjudicator would consider.

    Under section 55 of the NIA Act 2002, asylum seekers are required to apply for asylum as soon as reasonably practicable after arriving in the United Kingdom in order to be eligible for support under sections 4, 95 or 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. There are exceptions where applicants will get support even if they have delayed making their asylum claim. Most significantly, section 55 does not prevent support being provided to those with dependent children or with particular care needs and it does not prevent the provision of support if it would be a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights to not provide it.

    Section 94 of the NIA Act 2002 established a certification process under which, in certain circumstances, there is no in-country appeal right for an applicant making an asylum or human rights claim. This is known as the non-suspensive appeals (NSA) process. Since November 2002, the Secretary of State has, under the NIA Act 2002, designated various countries as generally safe. Asylum applications from nationals of these countries must be certified as "clearly unfounded" unless the Secretary of State is satisfied that they are not clearly unfounded.

    The provisions in Part 5 of the 2002 Act clarified the 'one-stop' appeal process introduced in the 1999 Act. Under this process there is a single immigration decision. He can appeal against the immigration decision on any of the grounds of appeal that are listed in section 84. Once an application has been through the one-stop process, a further appeal could not be brought if the Secretary of State certified (under section 96) that the further immigration decision related to a matter that should have been previously raised in the earlier claim or appeal and there was not a good reason for the new information not being raised.

    Exceptional leave to remain (ELR) was replaced by humanitarian protection (HP) and discretionary leave (DL). These new policies were introduced to ensure that only those who are in genuine need of protection, or where there are other compelling reasons why they should be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom, are granted leave to remain outside of the Immigration Rules.

    The following changes were made in the Immigration Rules relating to spouses, fiancé(e)s and unmarried partners of sponsors who were settled in the United Kingdom: (1) a person seeking leave to enter or remain in these categories had to be 16 years or over and the sponsor had to be 18 years or over on the date on which leave was granted; (2) the "probationary period" (initial grant of leave) for spouses and unmarried partners of settled sponsors was increased from one year to two years; (3) a passenger seeking entry as a spouse could now be granted indefinite leave to enter by an Entry Clearance Office (ECO), rather than completing the probationary period, if the passenger had married his or her sponsor (who had settled status in the United Kingdom) at least four years ago, since which time they had been living together outside the United Kingdom; and
    (4) a passenger seeking entry as an unmarried partner could now be granted indefinite leave to enter, by an ECO, rather than completing the probationary period if the sponsor had settled status in the United Kingdom and they had been living together outside the United Kingdom in a relationship akin to marriage for four years or more.

  • August 2003

    Charges were introduced for making leave to remain (including indefinite leave to remain) applications.

  • September 2003

    The provisions of the Dublin II Regulation EC No 343/2003 provide an agreed framework: (a) to determine which state is responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the participating states; and (b) to transfer the applicant to the responsible state. The Dublin II Regulation applies in all EU member states (including Denmark since 1 April 2006), as well as in Iceland and Norway (by means of an Agreement between those two countries and the European Community concluded in 2001).

  • October 2003

    The Family Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Exercise, allowed certain asylum-seeking families who had been in the United Kingdom for more than three years to obtain settlement. To qualify, the main applicant of the family unit had to have applied for asylum before 2 October 2000 and have at least one dependant aged under 18 (other than a spouse) in the United Kingdom on 2 October 2000 and/or 24 October 2003. The exercise did not apply to a family where the main applicant or any of the dependants: had a criminal conviction; or had been subject to an anti-social behaviour order or sex offender order; or had made (or attempted to make) an application for asylum in the United Kingdom in more than one identity; or should have his/her asylum claim considered by another country (i.e. he/she was the subject of a possible third country removal); or presented a risk to security; or fell within the scope of Article 1F of the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, or whose presence in the United Kingdom was otherwise not conducive to the public good.

  • November 2003

    Changes in Immigration Rules (HC 1224): required all non-EEA nationals to obtain entry clearance overseas for stays in the United Kingdom of over six months.

  • January 2004

    Since the beginning of 2004, the following immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities have closed: Dover Harbour - 31 July 2010, Oakington Reception Centre - 12 November 2010, Harwich - 30 November 2010; and Lindholme - 23 December 2011.

    Since the beginning of 2004, the following immigration removal centres and short-term holding facilities have opened Brooke House - 18 March 2009, Morton Hall - 16 May 2011; and Larne House - 5 July 2011.

  • March 2004

    Launch of Gateway Protection Programme, for the resettlement of refugees living in a protracted refugee situation for over five years.

  • May 2004

    There are certain breaks in some of the series. Nationals of the EU10 accession countries are excluded from 1 May 2004.

  • July 2004

    The Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004: its aim was to deter and prevent behaviour designed to frustrate the UK asylum process. The Act provided for the restructuring of the appeals system. Previously appeals were heard first by an Adjudicator, with scope for appealing to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT). From April 2005, these stages were effectively combined, with appeals heard by an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT) Judge (or by a panel of Judges in more complex or important cases). An onward right of review against a determination of the AIT is to the High Court for an order that the Tribunal reconsiders its decision on the grounds that it has made an error of law. The Act introduced two new offences from September 2004, one of being undocumented without reasonable explanation, and another of failing to comply with the re-documentation process.

  • August 2005

    Until 30 August 2005, people granted asylum were given indefinite leave to remain (settlement). Those granted humanitarian protection between 1 April 2003 and 30 August 2005 were eligible to apply for settlement after three years and those granted discretionary leave were normally eligible to apply for settlement after six years. Since 30 August 2005, all refugees, other than those arriving in the United Kingdom under managed migration resettlement schemes such as Gateway, have been granted five years' limited leave rather than indefinite leave to remain. At the end of this period they are entitled to apply for settlement. Humanitarian protection has been brought in line with refugee leave, so those granted humanitarian protection may also apply for settlement after five years. There is no change to the time limits for discretionary leave.

  • March 2006

    The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006: this Act, which was fully implemented by 2008, restricts appeals for those refused entry to the United Kingdom to work or study.

  • April 2006

    From 3 April 2006, people wishing to gain settlement in a work category had to have spent a minimum of five years in the United Kingdom in this category, an increase from four years, and were required to demonstrate knowledge of the English language. Following a judicial review, the rules were amended from 20 April 2009 so that those coming in under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme prior to the 2006 change would not be subject to the change in rules.

    The 2000 European Economic Area Regulations were replaced by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 – the 'EEA Regulations'. Under the EEA Regulations, EEA nationals (and their family members) have the right to live in the United Kingdom for three months without conditions. All EEA nationals have a right of residence beyond three months if they are exercising their Treaty Rights in the United Kingdom.

    The 'Automatic Deportation' provisions in the UK Borders Act 2007 created an automatic link between criminality and deportation. They are used when a non-EEA foreign national offender is sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment or more. There are limited exceptions relating to asylum and human rights, age at conviction, mental health disposals, extradition and human trafficking. Unless the foreign national offender makes an arguable asylum or human rights claim, any appeal against deportation is heard after he has left the United Kingdom.

  • July 2006

    In July 2006, the Home Secretary announced to Parliament that the backlog of cases involving unsuccessful asylum applicants who were still living in the United Kingdom would be resolved on a case-by-case basis within the next five years in accordance with the legal framework and with the following priorities:
    - those who may pose a risk to the public;
    - those who can be removed more easily;
    - those receiving support; and
    - those who may be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom.

  • October 2006

    The Facilitated Return Scheme (FRS) was established on 12 October 2006 to make the early removal of foreign national offenders (FNOs) to their country of origin easier. The primary aim of the scheme is to encourage FNOs to leave the UK at the earliest possible opportunity, thereby reducing the resources and costs associated with time spent in prison and immigration detention.

    The UK/Swiss Bilateral Re-admissions agreement was ratified on 16 October 2006. Its provisions apply to the two countries and mirror the arrangements provided by the Dublin convention at EU level.

  • January 2007

    There are certain breaks in some of the series. EU2 accession countries are excluded from 1 January 2007 (when they joined the European Union).

  • April 2007

    From 2 April 2007, adults aged 18 or over but under the age of 65 who apply for settlement (whether at the border or in-country) need to provide evidence that they have passed either the 'Life in the UK' test or an 'English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)' course which includes citizenship materials, unless they are applying under one of the categories which does not contain this requirement.

  • September 2007

    In September 2007, the visitor rules were expanded to include the category of "student visitors". This category is for short-term students who wish to study in the United Kingdom for up to six months (or from 10 January 2011, 11 months if studying on an English language course) but who do not wish to work part-time or extend their student visitor leave. It can also be used by visitors who want to study on a short course in the United Kingdom which will be completed during their period of leave. Student visitors are not permitted to bring dependants. Student visitors are grouped with 'Students' rather than 'Visitors'.

    From September 2007, all students and prospective students intending to work or wishing to extend their stay beyond their initial grant of leave were required to apply for entry clearance before travelling to the United Kingdom. At the same time, the ability of those already in the United Kingdom in another capacity to switch into the student category was restricted.

  • October 2007

    The UK Borders Act 2007 received Royal Assent on 30 October 2007. The majority of provisions came into force on 31 January 2008; with the exception of a few which are not yet in force (and not discussed here), the remainder of the Act was in force by 25 November 2008. The Act included providing that asylum seekers are to remain eligible for support while an in-country appeal is pending, or can be brought, against an asylum decision.

  • December 2007

    On 5 December 2007 the Home Secretary announced changes to the way that an applicant's good character would be assessed for the purposes of naturalisation and registration as a British citizen. The changes came in from 1 January 2008. Applications made on and after that date will normally be refused if the applicant has been convicted of a criminal offence and the conviction has not yet become 'spent' in accordance with the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

    The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 introduced certain changes to the British Nationality Act 1981. These extended the registration provisions at section 3(2) (minors born to British citizens by descent), section 4B (British nationals with no other citizenship or nationality) and section 4C (children of British mothers). New provisions were introduced for children born to parents serving in the armed forces.

  • July 2008

    From 22 July 2008, the initial length of time for which the spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a person settled and living in the United Kingdom is admitted was increased to no more than 27 months.

  • November 2008

    Tier 1 (which provides a route for highly skilled migrants) of the PBS was phased in between February and June 2008. Tier 2 (which provides a route for skilled workers with a job offer) and Tier 5 (which is for temporary workers and youth mobility, providing a route for those coming to the United Kingdom for primarily non-economic reasons) were implemented in November 2008, and at the same time new rules for business visitors were introduced.

    The minimum age at which a person could be granted leave to enter or remain as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a person settled and living in the United Kingdom was increased from 18 to 21. The minimum age at which a person could sponsor such an application was also increased from 18 to 21.

  • March 2009

    Amended rules affecting the visa requirements of Overseas Taiwan Citizens without household registration, individuals with a passport issued by Taiwan and Venezuela came into effect on 3 March 2009.

    From 31 March 2009, switching between particular tiers in specific circumstances was allowed, affecting extensions in Tiers 2, 4 and 5.

    Tier 4 of the PBS (which provides a route for students to study with an approved education provider) was implemented from 31 March 2009, replacing previous entry routes for study. Among other measures, Tier 4 requires all child and adult students from outside the European Economic Area to be sponsored by an education provider licensed by the UK Border Agency, and specifies the level of education to be undertaken by those aged over 16. Initially, students had to be issued with a visa letter from an education provider accredited as a licensed sponsor before applying for a Tier 4 visa. These have been superseded by Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), which became mandatory from 22 February 2010.

    Tiers 1, 2 and 5 of the PBS were amended from 31 March 2009. This included changes to the points awarded for particular qualifications and previous earnings for those applying for entry under Tier 1. Private servants in diplomatic households in the country under Tier 5 (International agreement) were allowed to apply for settlement after five years' continuous stay.

  • May 2009

    Amended rules affecting the visa requirements of Overseas Taiwan Citizens without household registration, individuals with a passport issued by nationals or citizens of South Africa 18 May 2009.

  • July 2009

    Amended rules affecting the visa requirements of Overseas Taiwan Citizens without household registration, individuals with a passport issued by Lesotho and Swaziland came into effect on 1 July 2009.

  • October 2009

    From 1 October 2009, points for Tier 1 (Post-study work) took into account study undertaken while in the United Kingdom under visas other than Tier 4. At the same time, minor amendments were made to rules relating to Sole Representatives of Overseas Businesses, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5.

  • 2010

    Sponsorship system introduced.

  • April 2010

    The rules were changed from 6 April 2010, meaning that the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category no longer leads to settlement.

    From 6 April 2010, the leave allowed for new entry clearance visa applicants under Tier 1 (General) of the PBS was reduced from three years to two years, while the leave allowed for extensions was increased from two years to three years. Changes were also made to allow doctors and dentists in training to apply for Tier 1 (Post-study work) and to the criteria for earning points for Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer), and minor amendments were made to Tier 5. Also from 6 April 2010, the Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) category no longer leads to settlement.

    From 6 April 2010 only education providers qualifying as Highly Trusted Sponsors could offer courses at A-level, Higher and equivalent or courses below degree level containing work placements.

  • July 2010

    An interim limit on entry clearance visas issued was placed on Tier 1 (General) applications made on or after 19 July 2010. In addition, an interim limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned to sponsors of Tier 2 (General) applicants for entry clearance visas and extensions of stay was introduced from 19 July 2010; an applicant has to have a CoS before they can apply for a visa.

  • September 2010

    Asylum seekers whose application has been awaiting an initial decision for more than a year are able to apply for permission to work. Those applying for permission to work from 8 September 2010 were restricted to working in a shortage occupation. In addition, from 8 September 2010, failed asylum seekers who made further submissions on their asylum claim more than a year before were also able to apply for permission to work.

  • October 2010

    From 22 October 2010, family members of those who had become British citizens having been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection were no longer eligible to come to the United Kingdom under the category of Refugee Family Reunion. They have to apply as a family member of a British citizen.

  • November 2010

    From 29 November 2010, all non-EEA nationals applying to enter or extend their stay as a partner of a British citizen or settled person were required to demonstrate a level of English, except in certain circumstances.

  • December 2010

    Yarl's Wood closed to families with children on 16 December 2010.

    From 23 December 2010, Tier 1 (General) of the PBS was closed to new applicants for entry clearance. This will have an effect on extensions of stay in later years. From 6 April 2011, Tier 1 (General) was closed to those applying to switch their stay from a different visa category, except those pre-PBS visas that are equivalent to Tier 1 (General).

  • April 2011

    A limit of 20,700 Certificates of Sponsorship for out-of-country applicants to Tier 2 (General) was set for 6 April 2011 to 5 April 2012, excluding any applicants whose job would have a salary of over a specific threshold. Changes were also made to the minimum skill, salary and English language thresholds.

    A new provision for post-flight spouses and civil partners (and minor children) of refugees or persons granted humanitarian protection (HP) (i.e. where the relationship began after the grant of refugee/HP status) was added to Part 8 of the Immigration Rules with effect from 6 April 2011. They are covered by the same Rules as partners of settled people. Previously there was only a route for these members if the sponsor was "present and settled".

    From 6 April 2011, the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category was split into sub-categories. Those for short-term and long-term staff are shown separately in published tables. Sub-categories not shown separately are for graduate trainees and skills transfer. More information about Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) can be found here:

    In April 2009 a vast amount of changes were announced to Tier 4 of the Student Immigration System, including restrictions on permission to work and the some restrictions on the entitlement to bring dependants.

    A new entry clearance visa visitor category for prospective entrepreneurs was introduced from 6 April 2011, for those coming to the United Kingdom to seek funding or to create a team for a new business idea. The rules allow people to extend their stay into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.

    New English language requirements – B2 for higher education, B1 at lower levels.

  • July 2011

    Amendments were made to the Tier 4 (General) category of the PBS which restricted the entitlement to bring dependants. New students sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level NQF 7 (or equivalent) or above lasting 12 months or longer, and students sponsored to study by the UK government/other national government on a course lasting longer than six months are allowed to bring dependants.

    New provisions were added to Part 8 of the Immigration Rules to allow other family members (who do not form part of the 'nuclear family') of refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection to join their sponsor without the sponsor needing to have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom.

    Required colleges to vouch for academic progress when extending visa.

  • August 2011

    A new entry clearance visa category of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) was introduced on 9 August 2011 for those who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show exceptional promise, as recognised by a designated competent body. This route was limited to 1,000 entry clearance visas in the first year. The maximum visa length was three years and four months, and although it was not opened to those already in the country under other visas, those with entry clearances in this category can apply for a further extension of two years and settlement after five years.

    Cedars, the pre-departure accommodation designed for children and their families opened on 17 August 2011.

  • September 2011

    As from 2 September 2011, all individuals refused asylum or Humanitarian Protection on the grounds of their war crimes or other international crimes committed prior to their arrival in the UK, but who cannot be immediately removed due to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), may be granted Restricted Leave to remain for a maximum of six months at a time.

  • November 2011

    Following the Supreme Court judgment in Quila and Bibi v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 45 which ruled that the minimum age requirement of 21 in the Immigration Rules for spouse and partners of British citizens and those with settled status was unlawful, from 28 November 2011, the minimum age at which a person could be granted leave to enter as the spouse, civil partner, fiancé(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a person settled and living in the United Kingdom was reduced from 21 to 18. The minimum age at which a person could sponsor such an application was also reduced from 21 to 18.

  • April 2012

    The Tier 1 (Post-study work) route was closed to new applicants on 6 April 2012. Dependants can still apply to join applicants who have obtained prior entry clearance for Tier 1 (Post-study work).

    A new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category was introduced for graduates who have been identified by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as having developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills, to extend their stay in the UK after graduation to develop their business. Previously such graduates may have used Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) for this purpose.

    The amount of temporary leave is limited to six years as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant, Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) Migrant or Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Migrant.

    Tier 2 migrants will need to wait for 12 months from the expiry of their previous Tier 2 visa or leave to remain before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa or leave to remain.

    All Tier 4 sponsors must have acquired Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status.

    Courses offering work placements now have to have a study: work ratio of at least 66:33 except at higher education institutions.

    Limits applied to the length of time that a Tier 4 (General) student may spend studying in the UK.

    A new visitor route for 'permitted paid engagements' was introduced to allow a specified group of professionals to undertake short-term fee-paid engagements for up to one month, provided they have a formal invitation from a UK-based organisation.

    Private servants in diplomatic households applying under Tier 5 (International Agreement) will be allowed to stay for the duration of the stay of the diplomat for whom they are working, up to a maximum of five years, whichever is shorter. They may not switch employer or settle in the UK from this route, but may sponsor dependants.

    Overseas Domestic Workers coming to work in the private household of their employer are only allowed to accompany an employer (or their spouse, civil partner or child) who is visiting the UK and must leave the UK with the visitor after a maximum of six months, and may not extend their stay, switch employer, sponsor dependants or settle in the UK from this route.

    Until 9 July 2012, Discretionary Leave was usually granted for a period of 3 years. From 9 July 2012, the period of leave granted has been determined by a consideration of the individual facts of the case but would not normally be for more than 30 months (two and a half years) at a time. Until 9 July 2012, UASC DL was usually granted for a period of 3 years or until the applicant reached the age of 17½, whichever period was the shortest. From 9 July 2012, UASC DL was granted for a period of 30 months or up until age 17½.

  • July 2012

    New Immigration Rules affecting the family migration route including the following:
    - A minimum income threshold of £18,600 to sponsor a partner, with a higher threshold for any children also sponsored: £22,400 for a partner and one child and an additional £2,400 for each further child.
    - The probationary period before the partner can apply for settlement is now at least five years, not two years, to test the genuineness of the relationship.
    - Immediate settlement for migrant partners where a couple have been living together for at least four years overseas has been abolished.
    - Adult/elderly dependent relatives are now required to apply from outside the UK, be a close relative, and demonstrate that, as a result of age, illness or disability, they require long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks and this care can only be provided in the UK by their sponsor and without recourse to public funds.
    Further details of the changes to the family route can be found at….

    The Immigration Appeals (family visitor) Regulations 2012 came into effect from 9 July 2012. They set out who qualifies for a full right of appeal against a visa refusal to visit family in the UK.

    Changes to Immigration Rules affecting deportation:
    - The new rules specify the circumstances in which deportation can proceed despite family or private life in the UK. Where a foreign criminal is sentenced to at least four years in prison, they should now be deported regardless of family or private life in the UK, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
    - A foreign criminal sentenced to at least 12 months – or less but whose offending has caused serious harm or who is a persistent offender who shows a particular disregard for the law – will now normally be deported, unless:
    - they have a child and it is not reasonable for the child to leave the UK with the parent and the child cannot be cared for here by another family member, or
    - they have been in the UK lawfully for at least 15 years and it is not possible for them to continue family life with their partner overseas.

    At least 20 years' continuous residence in the UK, lawfully or unlawfully, is now generally required before a person can apply to remain in the UK, on a 10-year route to settlement, on the basis of their private life. The old 14-year rule – by which migrants could apply for settlement after 14 years' continuous residence, lawful or unlawful – has been abolished.

    Amendments were made to the Tier 4 (General) category of the PBS which restricted permission to work for students applying for entry clearance or leave to remain. The length of time a student is allowed to work is dependent on the degree level and category of institution being studied at.

    Entry Clearance Officers given the power to refuse applicants if they have doubts about their genuineness, and reintroduced interviews for high-risk applicants.

  • January 2013

    On 27 January 2013 the Minister for Immigration announced the introduction of a revised 'Life in the UK' test to be taken by applicants for settlement and British citizenship from March 2013.

    Tier 1 Entrepreneur: introduction of a "genuine entrepreneur" test.

  • April 2013

    A new doctorate extension scheme was introduced on 6 April 2013 for students completing a PhD at a UK higher education institution. The scheme is designed give students who have completed a PhD an additional 12 months stay in the UK to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur. The application can only be made from within the UK.

    A new provision for MBA graduates and elite global graduate entrepreneurs to stay on after graduation and switch into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route.

    Change in policy following the Alvi & Munir judgment whereby Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children who have been refused asylum and HP, but where there are no adequate reception arrangements in the country to which they would be returned if leave to remain was not granted, will be granted leave for 30 months or until they are 17½, whichever is the shorter period. Once the child reaches 17½ years of age a further application for leave under the active review process can be submitted and considered. The grant will be "grant UASC leave". This group would previously have qualified for UASC DL.

    A new protection route was introduced from 6 April 2013 recognising Stateless persons who are unable to leave the UK

    On 8 April 2013 the Minister for Immigration announced that, from 28 October, applicants must prove they possess an appropriate level of conversational English (B1 intermediate) as well as passing the LITUK test in order to satisfy the Knowledge of Language and Life requirement.

  • June 2013

    The full right of appeal for applicants seeking entry to the UK as a family visitor was removed. From 25 June, 2013, there will be no right of appeal against the refusal of a family visit visa application, unless the appeal is on human rights or race discrimination grounds.

  • July 2013

    Croatia joined the EU on 1st July 2013.

  • October 2013

    Prospective student and dependant routes were closed.

    The process of genuineness assessments and interviews expanded to Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion), and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) applications for entry and leave to remain, and to Tier 4 Students applying for further leave to remain.

    Introduction of a scheme which allows some locally engaged staff in Afghanistan, who have been or will be made redundant as a result of the drawdown, to relocate to the UK . The new rules allow eligible applicants, their spouse/partner and their minor dependent children to be granted a period of 5 years' leave to enter if their character and conduct is satisfactory.

    General visitors allowed to study for up to 30 days if it is not the main purpose of visit.

    New Knowledge of Language and Life requirement for naturalisation applications came into force 28 October 2013.

  • December 2013

    The rules relating to members of the armed forces and their families were amended to align with the Immigration Rules for family members of British Citizens and people settled here. Further details can be found at…

  • January 2014

    Hong Kong added to the list of participating countries in the Youth Mobility Scheme.

    From 1 January 2014 passport holders of Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates can visit the UK (for tourism, business or study purposes) for up to 6 months with an electronic visa waiver (EVW).

    Transitional restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals were lifted on 1 January 2014.

    Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (SVPR) scheme launched, aimed at providing protection to 'several hundred' particularly vulnerable Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in that country. Later known as the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).

  • April 2014

    As from 6 April 2014 it will be possible for individuals applying for the first time under Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT – Long term staff) to be granted leave to enter or remain for up to five years, rather than the previous maximum of three years.

    New Government Authorised Exchange route for overseas government language placements for up to 24 months introduced 6 April 2014.

    From 6 April 2015 the Tier 1 (General) category will be closed to applicants who want to extend their visa. Applicants who are currently in the UK and who wish to apply for indefinite leave to remain must submit an application on or before 5 April 2018.

  • May 2014

    From 5th May 2014, all visitors from Venezuela to the UK – including holders of biometric passports – will need to obtain a visa before travelling to the UK.

  • July 2014

    On 28 July 2014 changes made by the Immigration Act 2014 in relation to deprivation of citizenship came into effect.

    Additional restrictions on switching from Tier 1 (Post Study Work) and Tier 4 to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) introduced.

  • September 2014

    The Verne IRC (formerly HMP The Verne) opened on 28 September 2014.

  • October 2014

    Introduction of the British-Irish Visa Scheme.

  • November 2014

    Administrative review will be available to certain persons in lieu of an appeal.

    The previous £1 million investment threshold for Tier 1 Investors raised to £2 million.

    Reduced the permitted refusal rate from 20% to 10%, so that if the Home Office refuse 1 in 10 of a sponsor's prospective students, they will lose the ability to recruit international students.

  • April 2015

    Haslar IRC closed on 23 April 2015 to revert into a prison in May 2015.

    The Immigration Rules for visitors consolidated and clarified, by streamlining 15 visitor routes down to four: visitor (standard); visitor for marriage or civil partnership; visitor for permitted paid engagements and transit visitor.

    The student visitor and extended student visitor routes rebranded into new routes for short term study.

    The "parent of a child at school" route rebranded as "parent of a Tier 4 (child) student" and placed into Part 7 of the Immigration Rules.

    The Tier 1 (General) category closed for extension applications, and the ability of Tier 1 (General) Migrants to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category restricted.

    The inspection of nationality casework by the independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration highlighted that he believed that greater scrutiny was required with regard to any adverse immigration history.
    Published guidance was clarified to make it clear that some cases would be subject to further scrutiny. As part of the consideration process for this type of case a full and detailed review of all previous immigration papers is required.

    Changes to Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List.

    New requirement for Tier 1 (Investor) applicants to open a UK-regulated investment account before making an initial application.

    Changes to the rules for Tier 1 (Investor) migrants maintaining their investments.

    Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) initial applicants now required to submit a business plan.

    Genuine Entrepreneur" test applied to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) extension and indefinite leave to remain applications.

    The Immigration Act 2014 amended the British Nationality Act 1981 adding new sections 4E to 4J to provide for registration as a British citizen for persons born before 1 July 2006 to a British father, where their parents were unmarried at the time of their birth.

    In the Immigration Act 2014 Parliament made clear the public interest in family migrants being financially independent and able to speak English to prevent burdens on the taxpayer and promote integration. The Act introduced new powers to make it harder for migrants to remain in the UK illegally and access services and to reduce spurious appeals to remain in the UK by cutting the number of appeal rights from 17 to four. Section 19 of the Immigration Act 2014 set out Parliament's view of what the public interest requires in immigration cases engaging the qualified right to respect for private and family life under ECHR Article 8. It requires the courts to give due weight to that public interest when deciding such cases.

  • July 2015

    Operation of the detained fast track policy was suspended on 2 July 2015.

  • September 2015

    On 7 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced an expansion to the existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPR). The expansion aimed to resettle 20,000 Syrians in need of protection in the UK by 2020.

  • October 2015

    Changes made to improve the operation of the Tier 2 (General) limit.

    Dover IRC closed on 28 October 2015.

  • November 2015

    The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) criteria revised for digital technology applicants applying to be endorsed by Tech City UK.

    Nurses, and four occupations in the digital technology sector, added to the Shortage Occupation List for Tier 2.

    Further explanation provided of the requirements for Tier 2 indefinite leave to remain applications which will apply from 6 April 2016.

    From 19 November 2015 Asylum claims from EU nationals will be treated as inadmissible unless exceptional circumstances apply.

    Indefinite leave and naturalisation applicants, who normally rely on an English language qualification, to take a Secure English Language Test.

    The lawfulness of the requirement for non-EEA national partners to demonstrate English language speaking and listening skills at a basic level (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages level A1 introduced in November 2010) before they can enter or remain in the UK under the family route was upheld by the Supreme Court in November 2015 (in the case of Ali and Bibi).

    After 12 November 2015 a person applying for naturalisation who is claiming to have permanent residence as an EEA national or the family member of an EEA national must provide a permanent residence card (PRC) or a document certifying permanent residence (DPRC) issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 as evidence that they meet the requirement to be free of immigration time restrictions.

  • January 2016

    In January 2016, it was announced that non-EEA national partners here on the family route must show greater fluency in English over time, and having needed A1 English on entry to the family immigration route, must pass a speaking and listening test at level A2 in order to qualify, after two and a half years in the UK, for further leave to remain on the five-year route to settlement. In order to give those affected sufficient time to prepare for the new test, it was announced to commence from 1 May 2017.

    Government response was published into the Independent review by Stephen Shaw into the welfare in detention of vulnerable persons. The review examined the Home Office policies and operating procedures that affect the welfare of immigration detainees. In response, the government announced a series of reforms to try and reduce the numbers of vulnerable people detained and duration in detention prior to removal.

  • February 2016

    From 21 February 2016 Kuwaiti passport holders can visit the UK (for tourism, business or study purposes) for up to 6 months with an electronic visa waiver (EVW).

  • March 2016

    The Migration Advisory Committee published the results of a review of nurse and specific nursing job shortages and recommended that nurses should remain on the Government's shortage occupation list.

    The Government announced its response to the Migration Advisory Committee's review of Tier 2. Reforms will be introduced in two phases, in autumn 2016 and April 2017.

  • April 2016

    Pay threshold of £35,000 implemented for Tier 2 settlement applications, with exemptions for shortage and PhD-level occupations.

    Launch of the Vulnerable Children's Resettlement Scheme (VCRS), which aimed to resettle at-risk children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

  • May 2016

    From 19 May 2016, a person in the UK with a right of permanent residence here under EU law must hold a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 in order to show they meet the requirement of being "present and settled in the UK" if they wish to sponsor a partner application under the family Immigration Rules.

  • July 2016

    Launch of the UK Community Sponsorship scheme, which allowed community groups, charities and faith groups to support resettled refugees directly.

  • October 2016

    Cedars closed on 17 October 2016.

  • November 2016

    The first of the two phases of changes to Tier 2 announced in March 2016 was implemented, including raising the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold to £25,000 (with some exceptions) and changes to Intra-Company Transfers.

  • February 2017

    On 22 February 2017 the Supreme Court upheld the lawfulness of the minimum income threshold under the family Immigration Rules, found that the minimum income threshold is not a breach of the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and is not discriminatory. The Court endorsed the approach in setting an income threshold for family migration, including a higher threshold for non-EEA children, that prevents burdens on the taxpayer and ensures migrant families can integrate into our communities. The court asked the Home Office to look at how, in cases involving exceptional circumstances, all the financial support available to a family is assessed and ensure that the best interests of any children are taken into account as a primary consideration in any decision affecting them. On the same day a temporary hold was placed on decision-making in respect of spouse/partner applications where the minimum income requirement was not met, or where there was a child affected by the decision (visa or extension). The hold was put in place so that the implications of the Supreme Court judgment handed down that day in MM (Lebanon) & Others could be considered. The hold included around 5,000 cases as at 30 June 2017.

  • March 2017

    Pennine House STHF closed on 31 March 2017.

  • April 2017

    Updated guidance regarding rejection of applications for EEA documents as invalid where documentation, other evidence or the application fee are not received with a completed application form were issued in 'Processes and procedures for EEA documentation applications' (Version 6.0).

    The second the two phases of changes to Tier 2 announced in March 2016 was implemented, including applying the Immigration Skills Charge (£1,000 per worker per year, or £364 for small/charitable sponsors), raising the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold to £30,000 (with some exceptions) and closing the ICT Short Term Staff sub-category.

    Tier 4 (Child) students aged 16 or 17 are required to satisfy the Home Office that they are a genuine student. This change was made in order to bring consistency between the routes.

  • May 2017

    A2 English language requirement introduced into Appendix FM for family members applying for further leave to remain, after completing an initial period of 30 months on a route to settlement. The requirement applies to those who leave expires on or after 1 May 2017.

  • June 2017

    Gatwick PDA opened on 22 June 2017.

  • July 2017

    Policy changed so that refugees resettled under the SVPR or VCRS on or after 3 July 2017 will be granted refugee status and five years limited leave to remain on arrival. Those already resettled to the UK under those resettlement schemes are able to request to change their status from Humanitarian Protection to Refugee status.

    Eligibility for the SVPR expanded to make it open, regardless of nationality, to the most vulnerable refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region who have fled the Syrian conflict. Consequently, the Scheme was renamed the "Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme" (VPRS).

  • August 2017

    From July 2017, people who are detained in H M Prisons are included in the published figures.

    The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 290, which came into effect on 10 August 2017, gives effect to the findings of the Supreme Court in MM (Lebanon) and Others in respect of exceptional circumstances and children's best interests. The temporary hold (which included around 5,000 cases) was lifted from that date.

  • December 2017

    The Verne IRC closed on 31 December 2017.

  • January 2018

    Introduction of Immigration Bail provisions in Schedule 10 to the Immigration Act 2016 on 15/01/2018.

    Part-time study at certain levels removed from the short-term study route and included within Tier 4. No work rights for Tier 4 students studying part-time courses, no dependants and not able to extend in-country.

    Tier 4 students permitted to apply for leave to remain from within the UK to complete a work placement or a study abroad programme, or to complete their course, after having completed a work placement or study abroad programme.

    Work rights of Tier 4 dependants to remain if the relevant main Tier 4 applicant is applying, or been granted leave, to study the same course for which they have previously been granted leave of 12 months or more, as a Tier 4 (General) Student.

    The minimum age requirement within the short-term study route reduced from 18 to 16, to allow those aged 16 and over to apply for the longer English courses and to ensure the genuine student rule is applied consistently across the student visa categories.

    Students studying under the short-term study route permitted to remain in the UK for up to 30 days at the end of their study

    Short-term students permitted to complete electives when studying towards a medical, dentistry or veterinary degree at an overseas HEI but continue to be unable to undertake any other type of work.

    Doubled the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) places to 2,000 per year and introduced accelerated settlement to the route. New provisions under Tier 2 for students switching and for supernumerary researchers.

  • June 2018

    Manchester STHF opened on 04 June 2018.

    The registration requirements for Croatian workers expired on 30 June bringing their rights to work in Britain in line with other EU citizens.

  • April 2018

    Document 4 of the Tier 4 sponsor guidance, 'Higher Education regulatory reform', was published for the first time. This policy guidance sets out how English higher education providers will be affected by the higher education reforms introduced in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

  • July 2018

    An amendment was made to the Dependant rules, reducing the minimum length that a postgraduate course needs for a Tier 4 (General) student to be eligible to bring dependants from 12 months to 9 months.

    Appendix H of the Immigration Rules, which reduces documentary requirements for Tier 4 applications extended to include visa nationals. Oman was removed from Appendix H. Bahrain, Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macau SAR, the Maldives, Mexico, Serbia and Thailand were added.

    A new settlement category for Turkish business people, workers and their families who are in the UK under the EU-Turkey European Communities Association Agreement (ECAA) came into effect on 6 July 2018. This means that Turkish workers and business people will be able to settle in the UK after 5 years as either an ECAA business person or ECAA worker (or equivalent points based system routes), as long as the relevant criteria are met. This includes that most recent period of leave was under the ECAA, the English language/Knowledge of Life test was passed and the standard ILR fee was paid.

    An amendment was made to the Tier 4 (General) conditions of leave that allowed students to study on a study abroad programme, regardless of when the programme was added to their course.

    Doctors and nurses exempted from the Tier 2 limit. Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) expanded to include fashion applications.

  • December 2018

    Campsfield House IRC closed on 31 December 2018.

  • January 2019

    Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) expanded to include architecture applications.

  • March 2019

    Introduction of new Start-up and Innovator categories for non-EEA nationals coming to the UK to establish a business. Applicants must be supported by an endorsing body. These replace the previous Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) routes. Reforms made to Tier 1 (Investor) to include greater checks on applicants' funds and improve the economic benefit to the UK of their qualifying investments. Updates made to Tier 2 salary requirements.

  • August 2019

    Higher Education Reform changes to Tier 4 came into effect from 01 August 2019. These changes extended full privileges to Higher Education Providers with a track record of compliance. As a result, new sponsored students at these providers have the right to work of up to 10 hours per week below degree level and 20 hours per week above degree level, as well as being able to apply for LTR under Tier 4 or skilled work routes without having to return overseas first and may be able to bring dependants to the UK depending on the level and duration of study.

  • January 2020

    Since 2020, Gatwick PDA has included people detained for other reasons than family removal.

  • February 2020

    New Global Talent category introduced for exceptionally talented and exceptionally promising applicants in specific sectors, replacing Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent). This new route introduces an additional endorsing body, UK Research and Innovation to cover the researcher sector, the qualifying period for settlement reduced to 3 years for science/research applicants and absences for research periods allowed.

  • March 2020

    The Home Office's Gateway Protection Programme closed in March 2020 after resettling 9,939 since the scheme began in 2004.

  • April 2020

    The Bridge School Inspectorate and The Schools Inspectorate Service have been removed from the list of acceptable inspection bodies on the Short-term study route. Both inspection bodies no longer exist.

  • April 2020 to June 2020

    Various concessions introduced to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions on migrants. These included: automatic extensions until 31 July 2020 for those whose temporary leave was due to expire before then; automatic one-year extensions for those working in key health roles whose temporary leave was due to expire before 1 October; waiving switching restrictions; allowing migrants to begin work/study while waiting for a decision on a Tier 2/4/5 application; relaxing restrictions on supplementary and voluntary work; and job retention provisions.

  • October 2020

    Student and Child Student routes introduced, replacing Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child)

  • December 2020

    Changes made to the Visitor route to allow study for up to 6 months as a Permitted Activity.
    The 11 month Short-term Study route introduced

    Skilled Worker route introduced, replacing Tier 2 (General)

    Intra-company routes introduced, replacing Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer: Graduate Trainee)

    Changes made to the Global Talent route regarding senior appointments and qualifying academic and research roles

    Other work routes revised and simplified

    Free movement between the UK and EEA/Switzerland ended

    Changes made to accommodate commitments in the UK-EU Trade and Co-Operation Agreement and UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement

    Changes made to ECAA Extension of Stay Immigration Rules, allowing ECAA business persons, workers and their family members who already had ECAA leave by 31 December 2020 to seek an extension of such leave

    The ECAA Businessperson route was closed to new applicants on 31 December 2020

    End of UK obligations under the Dublin III Regulation (EU) No 604/2013, relating to the mechanisms for agreeing which Member State should take responsibility for processing asylum claims made in the EU.

    Updated inadmissibility sections 345A-D of the Immigration Rules to ensure the legal basis for all inadmissible claimants to be returned to safe countries.

    Refugee resettlement recommenced after a temporary pause in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • January 2021

    From this date, EU Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) could be removed under the same rules as non-EU FNOs if they receive a custodial sentence of at least 12 months. They could also be refused entry at the border if they had a criminal conviction which resulted in a prison sentence of at least 12 months; if they have offended and caused serious harm; if they are a persistent offender; or if their presence is not conducive to the public good.

    Launch of the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) route which enables BN(O) status holders and their immediate family members to come to the UK to live, work and study on a pathway to citizenship .

  • February 2021

    The UK completed its commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees fleeing Syria through the VPRS, and the Government launched the global UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS)

  • March 2021

    Announcement of the introduction of the Graduate route, and discontinuation of the Doctorate Extension scheme, as of 1 July 2021. This will mean that current students who meet the requirements of the new route can stay in the UK for a period of 2 or 3 years to work or look for work after successfully completing an eligible course.

    "New Plan for Immigration" policy statement published, which set out the government's intentions to build a firm but fair asylum ad illegal migration system. This had 3 objectives: 1) to increase the fairness and efficacy of the system to better protect and support those in need of genuine asylum; 2) to deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger; 3) to remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here.

  • June 2021

    'Grace period', following the end of Free Movement between the EU and UK, ended. An EU, EEA or Swiss citizen (and their family members) who were lawfully resident in the UK by virtue of the EEA Regulations 2016 at the end of the transition period at 11pm on 31 December 2020 could continue to rely on those EU law rights during the grace period to continue to living the UK lawfully, until the final outcome of an application to the EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021.

  • July 2021

    The British Nationality Act 1981 (Immigration Rules Appendix EU) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 insert section 10A into the British Nationality Act 1981 to ensure that specific children born in the UK after the grace period ends on 30th June 2021, who would otherwise not be British citizens, do not need to make a separate application to become one, nor will they need to pay a fee. The changes will allow a child in the specific circumstances outlined to acquire British citizenship automatically from the date on which their parent is granted Indefinite Leave under the EUSS.

    Introduction of the Graduate route. This means that eligible students can stay in the UK for a period of 2 or 3 years to work or look for work after successfully completing their studies.

    Discontinuation of the Doctorate Extension scheme. PhD students can now apply for the preferable Graduate route, which allows them to remain in the UK to work or look for work for 3 years, rather than 12 months.

    Morton Hall IRC closed on 22 July 2021.

  • October 2021

    The T5 Creative or Sporting Worker route was replaced with two new routes: the Temporary Work - Creative Worker route and the International Sportsperson route (which also replaced the T2 Sportsperson route). This was due to the growing disparity between the creative and sporting sectors and the differing requirements they have of the immigration system. As a result of the split, and with the visit route providing adequate provisions for sportspeople, the three-month concession ceased to apply to sportspeople and applies to Creative Workers only.

  • November 2021

    Derwentside IRC opened on 23 November 2021.

  • January 2022

    Launch of the 'Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme' (ACRS), which aims to resettle up to 20,000 individuals over the duration of the scheme.
    This is in addition to the 'Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy' (ARAP) scheme launched in April 2021.

  • March 2022

    Introduction of the Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainian Nationals (and their immediate family members) to join settled immediate or extended family members in the UK or to continue their stay in the UK for that purpose.

    Introduction of the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme which allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members to come to the UK if they have accommodation with a named sponsor.

  • April 2022

    The Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes launched on 11 April 2022, to implement the UK Government's commitments in the Plan for Growth.
    The GBM routes implement many changes in response to the Migration Advisory Committee's review of the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route published in October 2021.
    The GBM routes simplify the UK immigration offer for business by bringing together, reforming and expanding various business mobility routes. It provides routes for the following:
    a) Senior or Specialist Worker: for senior executives and specialists undertaking temporary assignments at a UK branch or subsidiary of the business they work for (replacing the Intra-Company Transfer route);
    b) Graduate Trainee: for workers undertaking a placement in the UK as part of a structured training programme (replacing the intra-company graduate trainee route);
    c) UK Expansion Worker: for workers sent to establish a new branch or subsidiary of an overseas business (replacing the sole representative provisions in the representative of an overseas businesses route);
    d) Service Supplier: for workers providing a service covered by one of the UK's trade agreements (replacing the service supplier provisions in the Temporary Work International Agreement route); and
    e) Secondment Worker: a brand-new provision for secondments to UK.
    The routes represent a world-leading offer for businesses. For the first time, teams of workers are able to undertake assignments connected to a business's expansion to the UK, thereby facilitating inward investment. And the new provision for secondments is a world-first in enabling collaboration between UK and international businesses.
    These new and reformed routes make mobility across the UK border as frictionless as possible, while at the same time ensuring international trade serves the interests of British workers and the economy.

    The UK and Rwanda announced a new Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP), a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two countries. This Partnership aimed to see those travelling to the UK through illegal, dangerous and unnecessary methods considered for relocation to Rwanda, where they would have their asylum claim processed. This MOU was not legally binding unlike the treaty signed in December 2023, which will be once ratified.

    The Nationality & Borders Act 2022 received royal assent. This was the cornerstone of the government's New Plan for Immigration, delivering a comprehensive set of reforms to improve the asylum system. The deadline for its provisions to come into force is 8th February 2024.

  • May 2022

    Introduction of the Ukraine Extension Scheme which allows Ukrainian nationals already in the UK with permission by 18 March 2022 (or where they held permission which expired on or after 1 January 2022) to continue their stay in the UK.

    Amending the Immigration Rules, made under the provisions of Section 1(4) and Section 3(2) in the Immigration Act 1971:
    a number of amendments as a result of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, to implement the reformed asylum system.
    imposing a visa regime on nationals of El Salvador.
    expansion of the electronic visa waiver (EVW) scheme for nationals of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
    the introduction of a requirement for parental consent when joining a parent or legal guardian in the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme

    Launch of the High Potential Individual route which enables individuals at an early career stage, who have demonstrated their potential through academic achievement from an eligible international university, outside the UK, to work or look for work for 2 or 3 years. In order for a university to be eligible it must have been in the top 50 of at least 2 of the 3 ranking systems used (Times Higher Education, QS and ARWU) for the date the individual graduated. Applicants must have been awarded a degree or postgraduate qualification in the 5 years immediately before application.

  • June 2022

    The introduction of the reformed private life route for a person seeking permission to stay on the basis they have developed a private life in the UK.

    The introduction of the new 10-year family settlement route.

    The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 inserted new sections into, and amended existing sections of, the BNA 81 to address historical anomalies and unfairness in nationality law. The Government created registration routes for both those connected to Overseas territories who missed out on citizenship when mothers or unmarried fathers could not pass on their citizenship, and for descendants of Chagossians who didn't acquire citizenship due to the removal of their ancestors from the British Indian Ocean Territory, to obtain both British Overseas Territories citizenship and British citizenship. The Chagossian registration route will not commence until 23 November 2022. Children who missed out on British citizenship due to their mother being married to someone other than their biological father are now able to register as an entitlement, rather than at the Home Secretary's discretion. Naturalisation requirements have been simplified by introducing discretion in exceptional cases over the need to be in the UK at the start of any qualifying period, and by amending the lawful residence requirement so it will normally be met by holding indefinite leave in the UK, without the need to revisit previous immigration history. The Government also created discretionary registration routes for adults in specified circumstances. The person will qualify if they would have been, or would have been able to become, a citizen, but for historical legislative unfairness; an act or omission of a public body; or exceptional circumstances relating to that person. Finally, the Government tightened registration provisions for stateless minors under 18, who will now only qualify if they cannot reasonably acquire another nationality. With the exception of the Chagossian registration route, the majority of nationality provisions within the Act commenced on 28 June 2022.

    Section 12 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (the '2022 Act'), which came into force on 28 June, contains the power to differentiate between two groups of refugees (who applied on or after 28 June 2022) and to treat each group differently by offering different entitlements. Such entitlements include but are not limited to length of permission to stay, route to settlement, access to family reunion, and recourse to public funds. Individuals who come to the UK directly, claim asylum without delay, and are able to show good cause for any illegal entry or presence, will be recognised as Group 1 refugees. Those who fail to meet one or more of these requirements will be Group 2 refugees and may be given lesser entitlements as a result. For example, Group 2 refugees are granted a minimum of 30 months permission to stay, compared to a minimum of five years for Group 1 refugees.

    The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 introduced a new criminal offence of arriving in the UK without a valid entry clearance

    In addition, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 strengthened existing criminal offences in the Immigration Act 1971 and increased maximum penalties as follows:
    • the penalties for the existing offences of entry without leave and overstaying increased from 6 months to 4 years imprisonment
    • the penalties for the existing facilitation offences of assisting unlawful immigration and helping an asylum seeker to enter or arrive in the UK increased from 14 years to life imprisonment
    • the penalty for entering the UK in breach of a Deportation Order increased from 6 months to 5 years imprisonment

    The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 also amended Section 25A of the Immigration Act 1971 by removing the "for gain" of the previous offence of "…a person knowingly and for gain facilitates the arrival or attempted arrival (or entry/attempted entry) of an asylum seeker, or someone they have reason to believe is an asylum seeker, into the UK"

  • August 2022

    Launch of the Scale-up route. The Scale-up route allows those with a job offer at the required skill and salary level from a licenced UK scale-up to qualify for a flexible work visa. Businesses can apply for a Scale-up licence if they have annualised growth of a three-year period of at least 20% in respect of turnover or staffing and can demonstrate this through checks with HMRC. This route will build on the existing sponsorship framework and provide high-growth companies with a fast-track access to international recruitment.

  • October 2022

    Swinderby STHF opened on 03 October 2022.

  • November 2022

    Amendments made to the Student route to reflect changes which set out permitted elements of remote delivery of course material, to clarify restrictions for probationary sponsors, to academic progression and to dependant financial requirements. Amendment to Appendix Finance to allow users of the Short-term Student route to rely on official financial sponsorship. Amendment to the Graduate route study in the UK requirement.

    On 30 November, changes were made to the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) route to enable individuals aged 18 or over, who were born on or after 1 July 1997 and who have at least one BN(O) parent, to apply for the route independently from their BN(O) parent(s). Adult children will also be able to bring their eligible family members to the UK with them.

    On 23 November, the nationality route for descendants of Chagossians launched. Which allows those who didn't acquire citizenship due to the removal of their ancestors from the British Indian Ocean Territory, to obtain both British Overseas Territories citizenship and British citizenship.

  • December 2022

    A UK-Albanian Joint Communique was signed to enable a collaborative approach to reducing irregular migration of Albanian migrants and facilitating returns of Albanian foreign national offenders.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announces that caseworking guidance at the Home Office is to be changed to reflect the fact that Albania is now considered a safe country of origin.

  • January 2023

    Amendment to The Short-term Holding Facility Rules 2018 (The Short-term Holding Facility (Amendment) Rules 2022) came into force. This included the creation of a new category of holding room called a "residential holding room", which permitted detainment for up to 96 hours, rather than 24 hours for holding rooms under the previous legislation.

    Manston short term holding facility opened, for the purpose of processing small boat arrivals. Small boat arrivals no longer received initial processing inside the detention estate after this date.

  • February 2023

    On 23 February 2023, the Streamlined Asylum Process was introduced, centred around accelerating the processing manifestly well-founded asylum claims through the use of an asylum questionnaire to gather information. Where possible, positive decisions can be taken without the need for a substantive interview after someone has been screened. It initially applied to claims lodged before 28th June 2022 (Legacy/Historic claims) from nationals of Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen. These nationalities all had protection status grant rate of 95% or higher and over 100 grants in the year-ending September 2022.

  • March 2023

    Replacement of the Immigration Rules in Part 8 with new Appendix Adult Dependent Relatives, which came into effect 01-June-2023. No change in policy, rather clarified requirements and other aspects of the policy.

    An agreement between the UK and France was announced to increase cooperation around preventing Channel crossings

    The MEDP partnership with Rwanda was updated to include all categories of people who pass through safe countries and make illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK.

    On 31 March 2023 the National Age Assessment Board was launched. The National Age Assessment Board is a decision-making body within the Home Office which consists of expert social workers whose task is to support local authorities with the task of conducting Merton age assessments, increasing capacity and expertise in the system.

  • April 2023

    Section 43 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 ('the Act'), which came into force on 12 April 2023 clarified the existing position that all foreign national workers need permission to work in UK waters before they commence working here. For the purposes of 'the Act', a person is an "offshore worker" where they arrive in UK waters for the purpose of working in those waters, and they have not already entered the UK. All offshore workers need permission to enter and work in the UK before they start work. It is likely that permission would be in the form of a work visa or, if the work is a permitted activity, permission as a visitor.

    Changes to the Immigration Rules to not count periods of temporary admission, temporary release, and immigration bail as lawful residence, and changes to the Immigration Rules to not count leave as a visitor, short-term student, and seasonal worker as lawful residence.

    From 17 April 2023, legacy children's asylum claims from nationals of Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Syria and Vietnam were considered through the Streamlined Asylum Process. Where possible, positive decisions can be taken without the need for a substantive interview following a shorter Preliminary Information Meeting. These nationalities all had a protection status grant rate of 95% or higher for children's claims.

  • June 2023

    FNOs who have served their sentence in prison are being transferred into the detention estate to free up prison capacity if risk assessed as suitable.

    On 8 June 2023, the Streamline Asylum Process was extended to claims made on or after 28 June 2022 (flow claims). In addition, due to changes in country situation flow claims lodged by claimants from Sudan met the eligibility criteria for consideration under the Streamlined Asylum Process and as such were included in the list of eligible nationalities.

    Home Affairs Committee finds Albania is generally a safe country.

    The British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 29th June 2023. This act confirms the British citizenship of children born in Great Britain and Northern Ireland between 1 January 1983 and 1 October 2000, to a parent who was exercising a free movement right in the UK.

    Youth Mobility Scheme amended to allow New Zealand nationals to extend their stay by 1 additional year.

  • July 2023

    From 13 July 2023, the Streamlined Asylum Process was extended to apply to children's non-legacy ('flow') asylum claims made from 28 June 2022 to 6 March 2023 for nationals of the same five high-grant countries.

    On 17 July, changes were made to the student route to remove early switching to another visa route before completion of studies. There is an exemption to PhD students who can switch after 24 months.

    Illegal Migration Act received Royal Assent. Under the Act, individuals who arrive/enter illegally on or after 7 March 2023 and who meet the 4 conditions are subject to re-entry bans. Once commenced, individuals who arrive/enter illegally on or after 20 July 2023 and who meet the 4 conditions are subject to the duty to remove and re-entry bans. These individuals will not have their asylum claim or human rights claim (against their country of origin) determined in the UK, nor will they have access to the modern slavery system in the UK. Changes to detention powers mean that individuals can only apply for bail to the First-tier Tribunal after 28 days.

  • August 2023

    Two transitional routes- family members of qualifying British citizens (FMQBC) and Zambrano primary carers- closed to new applications.
    The EUSS has remained open to FMQBC and Zambrano applicants with pre-settled status (or a pending EUSS application, administrative review or appeal) or with pending access to the EUSS via a relevant EUSS family permit.

    A new validity requirement was introduced preventing illegal entrants from making a valid application to the EUSS as a joining family member.

    On 9 August 2023 meeting the deadline for applying or having reasonable grounds for the delay became a requirement for a late EUSS application to be valid and for a Certificate of Application to be issued, confirming temporary protection of rights while the application is determined.

  • September 2023

    In September 2023 automatic extensions of pre-settled status by 2 years started being applied to those approaching the expiry of that status who have yet to obtain settled status.

    Youth Mobility Scheme amended to allow Canadian and Australian nationals to extend their stay by 1 additional year.

    Following the enactment of certain sections of the Illegal Migration Act, the following policy changes went live on this date: 1) The Home Office updated criteria for caseworkers assessing credibility of asylum claims by explicitly setting out that factors such as the destruction of, or failure to produce an identity document, as well as refusal to disclose information required to access an electronic device like a phone passcode when asked, should be considered when assessing claims. 2) Clarification that the Home Secretary, rather than the Courts, will determine what constitutes a reasonable time period to detain a person for immigration purposes. This includes when they are being removed from the UK. When detainees challenge the length of their detention as unreasonable, the courts must take the Home Secretary's view into account.

  • October 2023

    In March 2023, the Government announced that it intended to enable former members of Hong Kong military units discharged before 1 July 1997, to settle in the UK. This was done by extending the provisions of the settlement concession that already existed for former Gurkhas and their families, to Hong Kong military unit veterans and their families, and bringing both cohorts under the Immigration Rules.

    Amendments to validity for student dependants and Graduate main applicants and dependants to clarify the requirement to obtain consent from a Government or international scholarship agency where the previous permission relied on their scholarship or sponsorship.

  • November 2023

    The Supreme Court concluded that deficiencies in the Government of Rwanda's arrangements for determining asylum claims could lead to risks of refoulement (returning refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution).

    S.46 NABA was implemented. S.46 NABA amends s.10 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to incorporate new provisions on notice periods and the scenarios where a notice period is not required. S.10 provides that a person who requires permission to enter or stay but does not have it may be removed. S.10 gives all individuals subject to enforced removal a statutory entitlement to a minimum notice period of 5 working days. It also creates a statutory requirement to inform the individual of the date of their removal, destination and route.

  • December 2023

    UK and Rwanda signed a new asylum partnership treaty, which will not come into force until ratified by both parties. This treaty partly replicates the terms of the original Memorandum of Understanding (April 2022) but with some significant changes. It aims to deter dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK by relocating asylum seekers, and people arriving in the UK without permission, to Rwanda where they can apply for asylum. The treaty is due to last until 13 April 2027 unless renewed.

    The Government are launching a dedicated out of country settlement route for victims of transnational marriage abandonment. This will ensure that someone who is abandoned overseas is able to benefit from the settlement provisions in the new Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse. This consolidates provisions that were previously in Appendix FM and Appendix Armed Forces into Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse.

    Swaziland's name was changed to Eswatini on the list of Commonwealth countries in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981. Togo and Gabon were added to the list of Commonwealth countries in Schedule 3 of the British Nationality Act 1981 having joined the Commonwealth. This does not, however, give nationals of Togo and Gabon the right of abode in the UK, as they were not Commonwealth citizens when the 1981 Act came into force.

  • January 2024

    For courses starting on or after 1 January 2024, only research-based postgraduate students are now allowed to bring dependants (partners and children) to the UK.

    The Immigration (Age Assessments) Regulations 2024 came into force on 10 January 2024. This instrument specifies the scientific methods (MRI and X-rays of various body parts) that may be used for the purposes of age assessments under section 50 or 51 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022. These measures have not yet been operationalised.

    The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (Removal of Prisoners for Deportation) Order 2023 came into force. Under these provisions, the Early Removal Scheme (ERS) has been extended from 12 months to 18 months before the earliest release date. This applies as long as at least 25% of the custodial sentence has been served – the sentence must be a minimum of five years and eleven and a half months. This should increase the number of FNOs that become eligible for the scheme and therefore increase the number of those returned to free up more prison spaces and ease the burden on the British taxpayer.

    The Youth Mobility Scheme was amended to include nationals of Andorra and Uruguay. The age range has increased from 18-30 to 18-35 for Australian, Canadian and South Korean nationals. Australian and Canadian nationals are also now able to extend their stay by 1 additional year. The annual quotas for South Korea and Japan have been increased to 5,000 and 6,000 places respectively.

    Introduction of Appendix Bereaved Partner which replaces the bereaved partner provisions within Appendix FM and Armed Forces rules.

    Permitted Paid Engagements (PPE) has now been incorporated into the Standard Visitor route. Visa nationals must apply for a visit visa (PPE) in advance of travel to the UK and non-visa nationals must seek admission/entry at the UK border from an immigration officer. Any PPE must be pre-arranged prior to travelling to the UK and the PPE activity must be undertaken in 30 days of arrival as a visitor.

    Those with permission to stay as a stateless person can sponsor a partner to come to the UK under Appendix FM – the family immigration rules.

    Appendix Bereaved Partner was introduced into the Immigration Rules, replacing the provisions in Part 8, Appendix FM, and Appendix Armed Forces. The provisions for a dependent child of a Bereaved Partner are included in Appendix Bereaved Partner and the general grounds for refusal in Part 9 of the rules are applied to this route.

    Introduction of new Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse replaced existing provisions for Victims of Domestic Abuse and their dependent children in Part 8, Appendix FM and Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules. This provided a single set of Victim of Domestic Abuse rules for those applying for settlement.

    Revised definition of a partner came into effect.

  • February 2024

    Introduction of the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession to replace the Destitute Domestic Violence Concession. Eligible victims get a short period of LOTR (three months) with recourse to public funds on a discretionary basis. This enables them to access welfare benefits, fund safe accommodation, and make arrangements to leave the UK, or apply to stay in a capacity other than as a partner. Eligibility mirrors the new Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse with the addition of partners of those on work or study routes.

    Amendments were made to the Immigration Rules: Appendix Ukraine Schemes to close the Ukraine Family Scheme to new applicants, amend the period of permission for new applications to 18 month (reduced from 36 months) for Homes for Ukraine and Ukraine extension scheme applications, and to reintroduce previously disapplied paragraphs of the General Grounds for Refusal. In addition changes were also made to policy guidance to require sponsors of applicants under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme to have settled status or be a British or Irish Citizen. These changes impacted the visa routes available to Ukrainians seeking temporary sanctuary in the UK as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

  • March 2024

    Overseas care workers and senior care workers stopped from bringing dependants, and a new requirement for social care providers sponsoring these workers in England to be providing services regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

    MIR - The minimum income requirement for those on partner visas was increased to £29,000 from 11 April 2024. This was the first increase for over a decade and the first step in tethering the MIR to the Skilled Worker Threshold as part of a wider package to reduce Net Migration.

    EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) victims of domestic abuse - These changes expanded the scope of the immediate settlement provisions in Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse and access to the Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession to include a spouse, civil partner or durable partner with pre-settled status under the EUSS (meaning that the relationship was formed before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020), and their dependent children. The changes came into force on the 4 April 2024.

    Continuous residence - The standard requirements of Appendix Continuous Residence are being applied to Appendix Long Residence and Appendix HM Armed Forces (only in relation to settlement as a Partner or Child). Applying Appendix Continuous Residence to Appendix Long Residence aligns the approach to permitted absences, including time periods and reasons for absences, with other routes.

    Appendix Long Residence - The standard requirements within Appendix Continuous Residence, Appendix English Language and Appendix KOL UK (Knowledge of life in the UK) have been applied to the Long Residence route. Includes a policy change whereby applicants must have had their current permission for one year (or have been exempt from immigration control within the 12 months immediately before their application) to qualify for settlement on this route. This aligns the requirements of this route with wider requirements for settlement. Also includes changes to standardise the conditions for grants of temporary permission to stay on the Long Residence route.

    The Armed Forces Rules - The changes separated the Armed Forces provisions into Appendix HM Armed Forces and Appendix International Forces and Civilian Employees to make it more transparent to whom the provisions apply. The minimum income requirement (MIR) to be met for HM Armed Forces personnel to sponsor a partner or dependent child(ren) was increased to £23,496 to tether it to the HM Armed Forces salary threshold for personnel on completion of training.

    English language - Appendix English Language has been updated to reflect that International GCSEs are accepted as evidence of English language ability and to extend the Appendix to the following routes: Appendix Settlement Family Life, Appendix HM Armed Forces, Appendix Long Residence and Appendix Temporary Work – International Agreement.

    Appendix Adoption - replaces existing provisions for children entering the UK for adoption in Part 8 of the Immigration Rules and comes into force on 6 June 2024. This will provide clearer and more consistent rules for adoption.

  • April 2024

    Replacement of Appendix Armed Forces with Appendix HM Armed Forces and Appendix International Forces – this is part of on-going work to ensure they are consistent with simplification work.

    Expanding the immediate settlement provisions of Appendix Victim of Domestic Abuse to include a spouse, civil partner or durable partner with pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme (meaning that the relationship was formed before the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020), and their dependent children.