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Changes to UK Immigration Rules: How will these affect you?

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 23 May 2019 | comments*Discuss
Changes To Uk Immigration Rules: How Will These Affect You?

New changes have recently been announced to the UK's immigration rules. These affect all applications made after 19 November 2015 unless otherwise stated. Applications made before 19 November 2015 but which have not been concluded will be decided on the basis of the system in place at the time of application.

The main changes imposed on the UK Immigration system are outlined below.

Applying for asylum - overview

You have to apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee. To be eligible you must have left your home country and be unable to return due to fear of persecution (be that due to your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation or for other reasons). You must apply as soon as you arrive in the UK, or as soon as you consider it unsafe to return to your own country.

The application takes the form of:

  • 1 - An application form setting out your background and the basis of your application
  • 2 - A screening meeting with an immigration officer
  • 3 - An asylum interview with a caseworker.
During the application process you will not usually be allowed to work. You may however be allowed to live in the UK in certain circumstances, and also receiving housing and money to support you and your family.

It is important that your asylum application is truthful and accurate, as you could be deported or face up to two years in prison if you give false information in your application. If you need help with your asylum claim, you can find a regulated advisor at here, or speak to a local Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to point you in the right direction.


Asylum claims from EU nationals will now be invalid unless exceptional circumstances apply. This is to recognise that the UK does not consider any other EU country to be dangerous or persecute its citizens. Also, EU nationals are entitled to live in the UK as part of the free movement of EU citizens in any event.

The tier system

The UK has a points based five tier system to assess visa applications for those from outside the EU who want to come to the UK to work, train, invest or study.

The five tiers are:

  • Tier 1: Those with exceptional talent - Includes entrepreneurs, investors and those recognised as world leaders in their fields, or who have demonstrated exceptional talent and are likely to become future world leaders in their particular field.
  • Tier 2: Skilled workers - Those with particular skills that are desired to aid the UK economy such as writers, composers, artists and lawyers. All applicants under Tier 2 need a Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer to confirm that the applicant will fill a genuine vacancy in the UK that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled worker already in the UK
  • Tier 3: Low-skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages. Note: No visas have ever been allocated by the government under this scheme and so currently you are unable to apply under Tier 3
  • Tier 4: Students - Applicants must have a place at a registered educational establishment before they can apply.
  • Tier 5: Temporary workers - There are six sub-tiers covering sport players, charity workers, religious workers and those under the youth mobility scheme which enables approximately 55,000 young people every year to have working holidays in the UK.
In most cases, spouses and dependants will be allowed to stay in the UK with a successful applicant. Usually spouses will also be allowed to work in the UK as well as the main applicant, unless they have permission to remain in the UK for less than 12 months.


The criteria of those who qualify under Tier 1 has been extended to include those skilled in the digital technology sector. Also nurses and four digital technology jobs have been added to the list of jobs which require filling by Tier 2 applicants.

Indefinite leave to remain

Those travelling to the UK with a Tier 1 or 2 visa may later be eligible to apply for UK permanent residence providing that they meet the permanent residence requirements at the time of their application.


A minimum salary requirement was introduced in 2012 for Tier 2 visa holdings seeking to remain permanently. From 6 April 2016, this minimum salary will be increased to £35,000. Those seeking to rely on an English language qualification will going forwards be required to take the test in a secure setting, in an attempt to stop "test takers for hire" who seek to exploit the system.

The changes to the UK Immigration system are on the whole minor and designed to provide more clarity to the process. However given recent events making immigration such an important but also controversial issue, we can expect further restrictions to be considered by the government over the next year. We will of course keep you apprised of any further changes.

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My daughter who is British born 1982 married a Lithuanian, where she now lives and has residency. She is now having a baby and wonders whether to apply for a Lithuanian passport or a British one for the child to be.
Nig - 18-May-19 @ 7:44 AM
Hi, I had my given leave to remain in the uk for an indefinite period in 1983 befoe that I had lived and studied in uk about 5 years but after getting my indefinite visa i still lived in uk for five years and then i could have applied for citizenship but didnt know i could do thatso since then it has passed many years but due to some problems i could not come to uk anymore and have lived out of uk and all these years clients ofbritish embassy in tehran/Iran gave me wrong information, so since then i could never come to uk but i really love and miss England and wonder if I still can enter uk with my old given leave to remain in uk for an indefinite period visa. Thanking you in advance for your kind attention and would be greatful if could help me in this matter
Soudabeh - 12-May-19 @ 8:08 AM
Hi. Been in UK for 10 years now. Was married to a British but died after few months living together.Was granted ILR after 2 years. Exempted to take a life in UK test before. Now I'm planning to apply a citizenship. Currently working in a government organisation. Just wondering if I still need to take the life in UK test if apply for citizenship.
Kris - 2-Apr-19 @ 11:13 PM
hi i have same question as Suh did my son becomes 7 years in feb 2019. he was born here and I have been as asylum seeker here too. I also heard a news that this rule has changed few weeks ago. Could you please let me know whether it is true or not.
naz - 1-Jan-19 @ 10:41 PM
hi I am italian national. I came uk with my husband non eea national in december 2012. I worked two and half year than I stop working because my husband start work as a self employed.It is more than five years we are living in the uk. I want to know can i apply for permanent resident as the basis of five years residence.two and half year i exercised my treaty right as eea natonal and than my husband non eaa exercise his treaty ritghts. thanks
goodman - 28-Dec-18 @ 3:58 AM
Hello I came on tier2 visa as a skilled worker in 2010 .I brought my son and my wife in uk as my dependent in 2012.but they both were overstayer since then while I have an ILR which I get in 2015.I m still on ILR. my son will complete 7yrs in uk in january30 2019.my wife also overstayer here .can I or my wife make an application for our child for legal status on 7yr policy rule. Pls .suggest me .thanks
Jassa - 9-Dec-18 @ 5:18 PM
hi my son becomes 7 years in feb 2019. he was born here and I have been as asylum seeker for 8 years. for the last 2 years I haven't made any application and I am waiting to make the application after my son becomes 7. I have seen that lot of people been granted recently under this 7 year rule. I heard a news that this rule has changed few weeks ago. Could you please let me know whether it is true or not. Thanks.
suh - 5-Nov-18 @ 4:58 PM
Hi there I need same help I come to UK in 2005 illegal I never registered or anything I was married to EU nationality in a UK Before I got married I ask home office The give me the right to get married in uk I got my 5 years visa Than now I hold permanent residence for 1 year I like to apply for British passport i am self sufficient Not spent much time out of UK No crimenal record at all The only thing is coming to UK illegal in 2005 Some how but declared all that on my first application for permission to get married Thanks farouk
lahlou - 31-Oct-18 @ 1:28 PM
@Reena - You can only leave the UK for a maximum of 90 days in each of the 10 years you are in the UK. As long as you are always legally in the UK for 10 years you can apply for ILR regardless of the visas you hele
TJ. - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:22 PM
Hello I m living in UK since 4 and half years on dependent visa tier 2 dependent. My visa is expiring in this End of November. I m planning to apply for student in January intake. Does anybody knows if I will b absent for 1 months10 years lawful residence to apply for ILR affects? And would changing visa from tier 2 dependent to tier 4 affect on 10 years law and how long I will b outside the UK in between two visas applications
Reena - 17-Sep-18 @ 12:57 PM
@Ness - Anyone who has held ILR for at least 12 months can apply for British citizenship
TJ. - 26-Jul-18 @ 7:31 PM
Hi I was given ILR in 2012 and been out of the country for less than 2 years and came back in UK in 2015. When can I apply forCitizenship? Do I need to wait for 5 years before I can apply for my citizenship?
Ness - 25-Jul-18 @ 11:34 PM
Hi We came to U.K. in 2015 August. May I know that are there anytime period changesto apply for ILR ?
Sara - 16-Jun-18 @ 11:22 PM
Hi dear I made application undet human rights 7year child base .my son 11 year old in this October he came from india in 2011 January and i got one son born here last year.we putt case for whole family including husbad.we done biometric and after three months i recived letter from home office your application is incomplete so fill these forms and send againthey send me form as well page 13 14and 41 42 immigrant history and biometric Only for my both sons .so i sent them back one month ago .iam so worried what they gone to do and how much time they will took.pleas let me know
Bali - 13-Jun-18 @ 6:29 PM
My Sponsor and I met over 30 years ago when I was in London for the summer. We fell in love but our parents managed to break us apart.Now this many years later we rediscovered each other because of the internet, he has been to visit me (3weeks) and I went home with him for 2 months, we are both divorced, and want to spend the rest of our lives together. I started the Fiance Visa Application in March 2018, and have just received my application package back from Sheffield CEO refused because we did not include his payslips/bank statements and letter from employer.I carefully filled out the appeal and emailed that, the refusal letter and the missing documents all back for appeal. I have 2 questions, 1. They sent my refusal letter in the courier package back with all my documentation, passport, photos and proof of relationship. Don't they need my passport in order to complete the process if I am (PLEASE GOD) granted the appeal and the VISA to go marry the sweetheart of my youth? We met all of the other requirements according to the refusal letter. My second question is how long could this torturous anguish last? I have rented my home, sold my car, and because I'm handicapped have no income aside from Social Security. I have no where to be!!!
Cowgirl in the USA - 10-Jun-18 @ 10:09 PM
@Anas - If you get accepted to study in a UK institution you can apply for a tier 4 visa. You can also marry a British or EU citizen and apply for a spouse visa.
TJ. - 6-Jun-18 @ 5:17 PM
I had a business in UKsince 2000 and I am from a EU country. Married in 2004 a British Citizen. I received ILR in 2010. Due to Domestic Violence I have fallen ill numerous times and could not reintegrate to work. I have raised our children as a single mum. I would like to apply for Dual Citizenship but I am unsure - will I be allowed to apply, with me being on benefits? Will I be charged a lot? My country allows dual citizenship.
S.G.A - 19-May-18 @ 10:33 AM
@sara - The AN form is the only form used to apply for naturalization as a British citizen.
TJ. - 26-Mar-18 @ 7:29 PM
Hi. I I am applying for naturalisation next month, I have been grated ILR just a year ago. My husband is British born but I am applying on the basis of 10 years residency ILR. Which application form is suitable as my application is based on ILR on the basis of 10 years not a spouse. I am sure is AN form but need to confirm it. Please confirm me
sara - 26-Mar-18 @ 2:49 PM
I am living in UK legally since 2012 on tier 2 visa ( work permit) in 2013 I switched over as dependent under my wife visa for 12 months and then switched back to tier 2 visa ( work permit) in 2014 . can we apply for ilr please?
HK - 7-Mar-18 @ 12:07 AM
Hello - my son has dual nationality; Canadian and British. At the moment he is travelling in North America with his Canadian passport. He has left his Uk passport behind. He wants to re-enter the UK in the coming months, can he do that with just his Canadian passport? Many thanks
Nic - 2-Mar-18 @ 7:49 AM
@davvy - It is not possible for your wife to lose her British citizenship because of divorcing you.
TJ. - 28-Feb-18 @ 4:15 PM
I married a woman from abroad in 2010 and we returned to UK in 2011. She completed all requirements and received British Citizenship in 2014. At beginning of 2016 our marriaage broke down and she left me. I feel used and consider her only intention was to obtain a British passport etc through marriage. She has now started divorce proceedings . Will her passport be revoked or is she legally entitled to remain here in UK and retain her British passport?
davvy - 27-Feb-18 @ 2:06 PM
@Meer - You can find out how to bring your dependant mother to the UK and the requirements on the govuk website
TJ. - 24-Feb-18 @ 3:03 PM
Hello my daughter from UK recently married a Australian and she now lives in Australia on a marriage visa. However she wants to just come home for 6 months with her husband and their expected baby (due to be born in Australia in Feb 2017). But he wanted to work while in the UK and not just holiday, he's under 30 years old but would have a dependant so can't come over on a 'under 30' work/travel visa. Could I sponsor them as their parent in some way as they will be living with me for the 6 month period in the UK, I could also employ him for the 6 month term they do have finances and earn over the threshold but in Australia. what is the best option for them?
Dawn D - 12-Dec-17 @ 2:22 PM
I came from India with my parents when I was 10. The immigration team cane to house and took our fingerprint and told my parents to go to Solihull every week or so Are they any chance we can get a the citenship of uk
Jack - 10-Nov-17 @ 6:39 PM
RS - Your Question:
Hi I got a spouse visa in 2012 and got married here to my British wife. I want to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Do I have to pass the life in the uk test? I have been here for 5 years. Is there anyway out of doing the test?

Our Response:
You don’t need to take the test if you: are under 18 or over 65, have passed it before - for example, if you’re applying to become a citizen and already passed it as part of your settlement application. Or you have a long-term physical or mental condition, in which case you must provide either a form or letter from a doctor confirming your physical or mental condition.
AboutImmigration - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi I got a spouse visa in 2012 and got married here to my British wife. I want to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Do I have to pass the life in the uk test? I have been here for 5 years. Is there anyway out of doing the test?
RS - 7-Oct-17 @ 5:57 PM
Hi please I need some advice from you I came to England in 2012 under dependant under my mother's name who is a British citizen in the uk . Can I apply for nationalization next year since I have indefinite leave to remain in the uk permanently.Thanks.
Vicksn - 6-Sep-17 @ 9:11 PM
Hi there I need same help I come to UK in 2005 illegal I never registered or anything I was married to EU nationality in a UK Before I got married I ask home office The give me the right to get married in uk I got my 5 years visa Than now I hold permanent residence for 1 year I like to apply for British passport Can I I live in the UK work full time Not spent much time out of UK No crimenal record at all The only thing is coming to UK illegal in 2005 Same how but immegrationdont know Thanks Saimir
Samir - 4-Aug-17 @ 12:57 PM
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