On 10 October 2011, UK Visas & Immigration released a new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules. Here is a brief summary of some of the changes which aim to implement the new application process and implement the next phase of the EU Settlement Scheme: New Application Process The new Rules provide for the new online application process for in-country applicants. The aim is for the application process to be ‘”digitised” and “stream-lined” whereby most applicants will be able to apply online and scan their supporting documents to the online platform. The Rules set out the requirements for making a valid application under the new process in relation to the applicant making an appointment to enrol their biometrics in person and where necessary, submitting the required documents in support of their application. Applicants will also no longer be required to submit two passport-sized photographs. The paper application process will remain in place for applications that cannot be made online. Fee Waiver The changes aim to protect applicants’ position with regards to fee waivers. Where applicants are submitting an application for leave online and seek to apply for a fee waiver, they will need to request for a fee waiver before they submit their application. The applicant will then be given an opportunity to submit their application for leave within 10 days of receiving the decision on their fee waiver. If the application is submitted within the 10 days, the date of the fee waiver request will be taken as the date of the application for leave. This is important as it protects the applicant’s continuing leave. If the fee waiver is granted, the applicant will not have to pay for their application for leave. If it is denied, the applicant will need to send their application for leave with the fee within 10 days. Evidence Original documents will no longer be required and copies will be accepted. This is good news for applicants who may find it hard to obtain certain documents particularly if they have to be obtained from overseas. The Home Office may request for the document to be verified if they are doubtful of its authenticity. Also, caseworkers have been given more flexibility in relation to requesting for further evidence from the applicant. Previously caseworkers were allowed to write once to the applicant to request information and in very specific circumstances. The changes now provide more flexibility with regard to whether and when caseworkers can request any missing documents. EU Settlement Scheme Changes have also been made to the EU Settlement Scheme which include:
- Provisions to align the rights of family members of British Citizens (“Surinder Singh” family members) to the family members of EU citizens.
- The introduction of the right of administrative review. This is available for applicants who have been refused because they do not meet the eligibility requirements and to those who have been granted limited leave (“pre-settled status”) instead of indefinite leave to remain (“settled status”).
- Changes to reflect the second trial phase of the scheme which will be scaled up to include staff in higher education, health and social care sectors in the UK.