2023 Changes to the Immigration Rules

A summary of the key takeaways from a recent webinar on 2023 Changes to the Immigration Rules.

The webinar was hosted by Pavan Sumal and Rachel Harvey and a recording of the webinar can be found below along with a summary of the key takeaways.



Recap on 2022 changes

New visa routes

  • Global Business Mobility: revamp of ICT routes, for short term and project work
  • Scale up route: sponsored route for talented individuals recruited by a UK Scale Up Sponsor who have the skills needed to enable the business to continue growing
  • High Potential Individual route: unsponsored route for graduates of top global universities

Right to work check changes

  • Mandatory online right to work checks using share codes on Biometric Residence Permit holders from 6 April 2022. 
  • End of COVID-19 adjusted checks on 30 September 2022
  • From 1 October 2022, right to work checks carried out on British and Irish citizens must be done manually or, if they have a valid passport or passport card, a remote check can be carried out through an Identification Services Provider (IDSP)

Updates to sponsor guidance

More detailed information regarding the updates to the sponsor guidance can be found in our articles: Update for Sponsors (part 1): what has changed and what do we need to know? (shoosmiths.co.uk) and Update for Sponsors (part 2): what has changed and what do we need to know? (shoosmiths.co.uk)

In summary, the changes that took place on 9 November 2022 include:

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) exemptions

The ISC is effectively a levy imposed on sponsors when sponsoring employees from overseas. It is payable when assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, certain exemptions apply. The Home Office confirmed that the ISC is not payable where the applicant is switching from a student visa, even where they have not completed their course. 

Changes to start date of employment

The Home Office clarified when a report to a sponsored worker’s start date is not required. This includes where the start date is delayed by no more than 28 days from the latest of the start date on the CoS, the date they are notified of the grant of permission and the ‘valid from’ date on their visa. 

Defined certificates of sponsorship 

To ensure that the Home Office can accurately assess that a role meets the requirements for sponsorship, the guidance has been updated to confirm that employers must confirm the number of weekly hours of work when requesting a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship. 

Justification for tradeable points salaries

There are various salary thresholds for sponsorship which enable the employer to sponsor an individual that is being paid less than the general salary threshold or the going rate for the position. In such cases, the individual must meet the requirements under one of the ‘tradeable points’ options and the salary must be at the required level for that option. The guidance now clarifies that when requesting a Defined CoS before a candidate has been identified to fill a role, employers cannot assume that the candidate that will ultimately fill the role will be eligible for tradeable points unless they can provide a clear justification for this. 

Timeframes for granting defined CoS

The Home Office aim to grant requests of defined CoS by the end of the next working day following the request. On occasion, this is not possible, and we have had situations in the past where clients would be waiting for months for a response but how, helpfully, the Home Office have said that they would aim to consider these requests within 20 working days of receipt of the additional information.

Effect of increase to going rate during period of sponsorship

The guidance confirms that the increase will not affect a sponsored worker for the duration of their current employment, it would only have to be met with their next application for leave to remain/indefinite leave to remain (unless transitional provisions apply) and for individuals applying for entry clearance. 

Reductions in salary – ill health

A Skilled Worker application would not be required where a reduction in salary coincides with a temporary reduction in the worker’s hours or a phased return to work for individual health reasons, provided that it is supported by an OH assessment and the reduction does not result in the hourly rate falling below any hourly rate requirement which applied when the worker obtained their most recent grant of permission. 

Confirmed changes in 2023

Updates to sponsor licence details

Requests to replace the Authorising Officer, Key Contact and add new Level 1 Users will be fulfilled immediately for A rated sponsors, if the licence is fully active and the postcode of the address for the new AO, KC or level 1 User matches either the postcode of your main organisation address or that of your head office.  Where a legal representative is being added as KC or Level 1 User, the request will be fulfilled immediately, as long as their postcode matches the postcode of a representative organisation that the Home Office have been told is acting on behalf of the sponsor. 

Renewal of CoS allocation

A rated sponsors in eligible routes with current annual allocations showing as active and expiring after 24 June will have their CoS allocation automatically renewed. Manual renewal is required for annual allocations expiring before this date, however the following years’ annual allocations will be automated.

The number of CoS allocated to sponsors that have the automated allocation, will be the number that were assigned in the previous year. The option to increase the allocation will be there if you do need more than allocated.   

New salary thresholds for sponsorship

From 12 April 2023, the general salary threshold for sponsorship on the Skilled Worker route will be £26,200. Advice surrounded salary calculation for irregular shift patterns for sponsored workers can be provided, as the rules will now confirm how salaries are to be calculated for sponsored workers that do not work the same hours each week.

Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme

The ETA scheme will come into force on 13 April 2023.

It applies to anyone that is not British or Irish who wants to visit or transit through the UK and who do not currently need a visa for short stays. The list of nationalities to which it applies is being extended to include Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE among others.

Australians on the GBM expansion worker route

In reflection of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement, Australian nationals and permanent residents coming to the UK on the Expansion Worker route do not need to show that they have worked for their overseas employer for 12 months before coming to the UK.

New innovator founder visa route

This route replaces the Start Up and innovator routes and is for individual seeking to establish a business in the UK. That business must be based on an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that they have generated, or to which they have significantly contributed. Applicants must be genuine and have the support of an approved endorsing body and they must have a key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business. The £50,000 investment requirement has been removed and applicants only have to show that they have enough money to meet the maintenance requirement. 

Anticipated changes in 2023

  • Review of the Shortage Occupation List
  • Expansion of permitted business activities for visitors
  • Moves towards digitisation of the immigration system 


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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