Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Recent Changes to UK Immigration Law

Due to a number of recent events, there have been a fair few changes made to the UK’s immigration system, and it’s likely that there are still more to come.

If you are looking to relocate to the UK, then changes that could potentially affect you have been made in the following areas.

Applying For Asylum Status

An asylum seeker is an individual who has a reasonable fear of persecution in their home country as a result of their religion, race, political stance, nationality, sexual orientation etc. They must be unable to return to their own country due to this reasonable fear.

The asylum seeker must submit this application as soon as they arrive in Britain, or as soon as it becomes clear they are unable to return home. If their asylum application is approved, they then become a refugee and are permitted to remain in the UK.

Applications from EU citizens will be automatically rejected, except in cases of extreme circumstances. This is because the UK believes that no country in the EU is dangerous or would persecute its own citizens. Additionally, European nationals have the right to reside in the UK under the free movement of EU citizens.

The Tier System

This is the main route for most migrants from outside the EU. It involves a points-based five tier system.  This is used to assess which category the migrants, who would like to move to the UK to work, study, train or invest, fall into.

For an application to be successful, the individual’s total points must reach above a specific minimum threshold; this varies from tier to tier.

A couple of examples are:

Tier 1 – includes those with exceptional talent such as entrepreneurs or investors

Tier 4 – includes students over the age of 16

The changes affect the criteria of those who may qualify:

Tier 1 – individuals who are skilled in the digital technology sector are now included

Tier 2 – both nurses and four digital technology careers have been included

Indefinite Leave To Remain

This refers to migrants who arrived in the UK with a Tier 1 or 2 visa, and the possibility of them being eligible to apply for permanent residence in the UK. This is only possible if they meet the requirements laid out at the time for permanent residence.

Significant changes include:

Alterations to the minimum salary requirement for Tier 2 visa holders. The minimum threshold has now risen to £35,000 for those who wish to stay in the UK.

Individuals who depend on an English language qualification must now sit a test, under exam conditions, to ensure that their qualification is legitimate and that they haven’t cheated the system in any way.

Author: Immigration Advice Service

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. 

Published on 23rd March 2017
(Last updated 7th May 2021)