On 19 February 2024, the UK government released an important statement of changes to the Immigration Rules which are due to come into effect on 10 March 2024. This update primarily addresses the Ukraine Scheme visas and Skilled Worker visas for care workers, senior care workers, and their family members. This announcement is a precursor to further changes, notably regarding salary and financial requirements, expected to be announced on 11 March 2024.

What are the key changes to the Senior Care Workers and Care Workers?

The latest immigration rule changes introduce specific restrictions for senior care workers and care workers on Skilled Worker visas (occupation codes 6145 and 6146). These changes, driven by identified issues of non-compliance and exploitation within the sector, include:

  • A new mandate requires employers in England, sponsoring care workers and senior care workers under the specified occupation codes, to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and engage in a regulated activity.
  • Restrictions are now placed on dependents joining workers in the UK under these occupation codes. However, children born in the UK during their parent’s stay can seek to regularise their status in alignment with their parent’s visa.
  • For individuals currently in the UK on a Skilled Worker or a PBS Dependent visa facing challenges meeting the new criteria, the Home Office has set up transitional provisions. These provisions allow for an extension of stay with the same employer and applications for indefinite leave to remain, provided any employment changes comply with the new CQC regulation requirement.

Ukraine Scheme Visas: Significant Updates

The changes also highlights changes to the Ukraine visa schemes, effective immediately, as well as additional grounds for refusal of an application. These changes include:

  1. Closure of the Ukraine Family Scheme for new applications as of 3pm on 19 February 2024.
  2. The Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme will see a reduction in the initial permission granted to new applicants from 36 to 18 months. This will not affect the visa end dates for existing visa holders.
  3. Closure of the Ukraine Extension Scheme for permission to stay to applicants in the UK from 16 May 2024, except for children born in the UK after 18 March 2022, who will remain eligible under this route and will receive permission consistent with their parent(s) on a Ukraine Scheme visa

Any other changes?

Additionally, minor clarifications and updates have been introduced to the Youth Mobility visa route, offering clear guidelines on which previous visa categories qualify as Youth Mobility visas, including the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) Scheme pre-December 2020 and the Working Holidaymaker route pre-November 2008.

How can Bridge Partners help?

Should these amendments impact you, your present visa status, or an impending application, we urge you to reach out to our team for a comprehensive discussion of your alternatives. Our team is here to provide expert guidance and support through these changes. Contact us to explore how these developments may affect you and to discuss your immigration status.