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United Kingdom Legislation: Changes to Immigration Rules Come Into Force October 1


On September 9, 2019, the UK Parliament authorised several changes to the Immigration Rules. Most amendments will come into force on October 1 along with detailed instructions on the website. Other changes will enter into effect on either October 6, 2019 or January 1, 2020.


What’s new in the Immigration Rules?


No additional English test for medical workers

Doctors, dentists, midwives and nurses are now exempt from the additional English Language Test as per Amendment to Appendix B and General Work visa - Tier 2. They are no longer required to go through an extra English exam if they have already passed a language test accepted by the professional regulatory body.


Changes for PhD level applicants

Firstly, PhD-level occupations are removed  from the Tier 2 cap and will no longer require a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (RCoS). Secondly, PhD holders are now exempt of the 180 absence restriction so they can perform continuous research overseas. The same applies to dependants who travel with PhD holders exiting the UK for research purposes.


Tier 4 to Tier 2 switching for students

Tier 4 students who study at degree level or above can now apply to follow the Tier 2 route. They may file such an application within 3 months of the expected end date of the course. These students will be allowed to start working with their Tier 2 sponsors.


Changes to the absence policy

According to amendments to The Tier 2 (General) and (ICT) Immigration Rules, migrants will not be subject to penalties should they be absent from work due to sickness, statutory parental leave, joining a legal strike or assisting in national/international humanitarian or environmental actions. Tier 2 migrants cannot be refused ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) if their salary drops below the predefined level due to such absence. Similar exemptions have already been in place for migrants on parental, shared parental or adoption leave.


Changes to Youth Mobility Scheme for South Koreans

Due to changes to Appendix G (Youth Mobility Scheme), from January 1, 2020, citizens of South Korea will be able to apply for the Youth Mobility Scheme visa without first applying for a sponsorship certificate from their home officials. 


Changes to Shortage Occupation List

Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test requirement are prioritised higher within the Tier 2 (General) annual limit. Such jobholders get an exemption from the relevant Tier 2 earnings threshold when they apply for ILR.


There is one list for the UK except Scotland and a separate list for Scotland. Here are the changes to the lists:

  • New occupations added, including 2,112 biological scientists and biochemists, and 2,216 vets

  • Some occupations removed, e.g., 1,123 production managers and directors in mining and energy

  • Many SOC codes - already on the SOL, yet only for limited job types - now cover all jobs in that occupation code

  • The qualifying company criteria for digitech jobs were removed

  • The restriction that banned chefs from being employed by takeaway services was removed. That said, there were no other changes to the SOL requirements as regards skilled chefs.


For the entire list of changes, please visit


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