New Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules: HC 1534

A new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was issued on the 10th October 2018.

This has been the fourth update to the rules of 2018 and more changes are set to be announced in December 2018 also.

Whilst there has been a significant number of changes mentioned in the statement , perhaps the most welcoming news is that the new changes are set provide caseworkers with greater flexibility and as stated by the Secretary of State  to “introduce an immigration system that allows staff greater freedom to use their common sense”.

The greater flexibility means that caseworks can decide whether and when they would like to to applicants to ask for missing documents. The Home Office will also implement the following:

There will be significant changes implemented to Paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules which deals with valid and invalid applications:

  • Applicants will no longer need to submit passport-size photographs.

  • Paper forms can only be used if submitting the application by post.

  • Those who will want to use the Premium Service Centre, or its future equivalent, will need to apply online.

The rules now state that, to make a valid application:

 

An applicant must comply with the application process set out on the visa and immigration pages on GOV.UK and in the invitation to enrol biometrics which is provided as part of the application process in relation to – (a) making an appointment to provide biometrics, and (b) providing any evidence requested by the Secretary of State in support of their application.

Where an applicant has not submitted a “valid” application, the Secretary of State may give them an opportunity to rectify the mistake within a specified timescale. It used to be that they could only give 10 working days, but they now have discretion to give more time – or less! 

The Secretary of State now has discretion to consider an invalid application as valid, provided the specified fee was paid and proof of identity submitted (or, if not submitted, one of the exceptions to submit a proof of identity apply – see paragraph 34(5)).

E.g. if an applicant were to submit the wrong form, or submit an incomplete form, the Secretary of State could still consider the application as if it had been submitted on the right form.

  • ●      The Secretary of State will also return an applicant’s ID while the application is outstanding, unless he “considers it necessary to retain it”. This is welcome news.

This has been welcome news considering Not having a passport can be problematic: as it is needed to give notice of an intention to marry or sit the English language / Life in the UK tests. However, leaving the UK while an application is pending will still result in the application being treated as withdrawn.

In short, these are a just a few changes set to be put in place this November. The government also has plans to provide more statement of changes December of this year.