July 2023 UK Immigration Rule Updates

The UK government’s recent decision to increase visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge has brought significant changes to the immigration landscape. If you missed our previous report on these updates, you can find it linked here “UK Visa Fees Set to Increase”, ensuring you stay well-informed about the latest developments.

In this blog, we delve into the key changes introduced on the 17th and 19th of July 2023, offering valuable insights and important dates of enforcement. From eligibility criteria for student dependants to additions to the visa national list and changes in sponsored roles, we cover a diverse range of essential topics.

Let’s embark on this journey together to understand how these changes may impact your plans and opportunities in the UK.

From 3PM 17th, 2023 UK Immigration Updates

Commencing from 3 pm on 17th July 2023, a series of significant changes to the UK immigration regulations will come into effect. These updates encompass various aspects of the immigration system, affecting students, workers, and dependants. 

Student Dependants

Students with courses commencing on or after January 1st, 2024, will experience revised eligibility criteria when bringing their dependent partners and children to the UK.

As per the updated guidelines, student dependants will be eligible to accompany the main applicant only if they are studying a PhD, other doctoral qualifications, or research-based higher degrees. However, there are exceptions to this requirement. Dependants may also be eligible if they have been awarded an award by a government or if they are currently on a dependent visa.

These changes aim to streamline the UK’s immigration system while ensuring that dependants accompanying students meet specific educational criteria. By aligning the regulations with the pursuit of higher education, the UK government seeks to promote skilled and research-based learning opportunities within the country. 

For students and their dependants, it becomes crucial to understand and comply with these updated guidelines to ensure a smooth and successful immigration journey.

Students Switching from Inside the UK

The changes to the UK immigration rules, also bring significant implications for individuals applying from inside the UK who are currently on a UK Student visa. Under the revised guidelines, these individuals will need to meet specific criteria depending on their course status and future plans for work or further education.

Firstly, for those completing their studies, it becomes essential to adhere to the course completion date before starting work. Full-time students must ensure that they do not begin working any earlier than their course’s official end date. This requirement applies to various routes, including those under the Skilled Worker route, Global Business Mobility routes, and the UK Ancestry route.

Alternatively, for students pursuing a full-time course of study for a PhD, there are additional considerations. The start date for work must be no earlier than either 24 or 12 months after the commencement of their PhD, depending on the specific visa route they fall under. This regulation aims to align work opportunities with the academic timeline of students pursuing advanced research degrees.

By introducing these changes, the UK government seeks to strike a balance between academic pursuits and work opportunities for international students. For those planning to switch from a UK Student visa to another visa category, understanding these updated guidelines is crucial to ensure a seamless transition within the UK’s immigration system

Proper compliance with these regulations will enable students to make well-informed decisions about their educational and career paths while adhering to the country’s immigration requirements.

From 3pm 19th July, 2023 UK Immigration Updates

On the 19th of July 2023, at 3 pm, the UK immigration landscape experienced notable adjustments, particularly concerning the visa national list. This update directly impacts travelers from specific countries, introducing changes to the visa application process for their entry into the UK.

The UK government has added the following nationalities to the visa national list (i.e., they need to apply for a visitor visa before traveling to the UK):

  • Dominica
  • Honduras
  • Namibia
  • Timor-Leste
  • Vanuatu

As a result, nationals of these countries will now need to apply for a visitor visa before traveling to the UK. This alteration aims to ensure a structured and regulated entry system, maintaining the security and integrity of the country’s borders.

However, there are exceptions to this requirement for travelers from the aforementioned countries. Those holding confirmed bookings made on or before 3 pm (British Summer Time) and arriving no later than 16th August 2023 will not be obligated to obtain a visitor visa. This provision grants some flexibility to travelers with pre-arranged plans, making their travel experience more streamlined and convenient.

For individuals planning to travel to the UK from these countries after the stipulated date, it is essential to familiarize themselves with these changes and comply with the necessary visa requirements to avoid any potential travel disruptions.

From 7th August, 2023 UK Immigration Updates

Starting 7th August 2023, the UK immigration system will see significant changes, including a new genuineness test for sponsored individuals and additions to the Shortage Occupation List. 

New Genuineness Test

A genuineness requirement will be added to categories where individuals will be sponsored to undertake a relevant role. There must be an intention for the individual to undertake the role for which they are sponsored and not intend to undertake any other employment unless the rules allow it..

Building Trades (and Deckhands) Added to the Shortage Occupation List

The following codes will be added to the shortage occupation codes:

5119 Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified – only jobs in the fishing industry

5312 Bricklayers and masons – all jobs

5313 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – all jobs 

5315 Carpenters and joiners – all jobs 

5319 Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified – all jobs 

5321 Plasterers – all jobs 

9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified – only deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) where the job requires the worker to have at least 3 years’ full-time experience in using their skills. 

The main significance of this is that employers will be able to benefit from the shortage occupation list salary threshold which is 80% of the job’s usual going rate or £20,960 per year whichever is higher and a minimum of £10.75 per hour.

From 9th August, 2023 UK Immigration Updates

Changes to appendix EU will come into force to restrict the latest date that family members of EU nationals currently holding EU settled or pre-settled status to apply. It further adds that they cannot be an illegal entrant. 

In terms of the changes some were expected, however, others were not and with changes in the law expected soon with the Illegal Migrant bill and the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) bill likely to come into force this year, further changes could come.


The July 2023 UK Immigration Rule Updates signify the UK government’s commitment to regulating the immigration system effectively. With changes in visa fees, the introduction of a genuineness test, and additions to the Shortage Occupation List, the landscape has evolved. 

Staying informed and adapting to these changes will be essential for individuals and employers seeking opportunities in the UK. Embrace these transformations to navigate a successful immigration journey in the UK’s evolving immigration landscape.

As your trusted immigration advisors, we are committed to guiding you through these updates for a seamless experience. If you have any immigration-related inquiries or are considering opportunities in the UK, consult with our team of experts for up-to-date information and personalized assistance. Contact us now & let us assist you in achieving your immigration goals with confidence.

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