The announcement on 11 October by the UK government includes the launch of the second phase of the EU Settlement Scheme, changes to the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge, and the submission of applications from within the United Kingdom.
EU Settlement Scheme
The UK government has announced that it will be rolling out the second phase of the EU Settlement Scheme following the success of the first pilot. The EU Settlement Scheme is the immigration category that EU citizens and their family members will be able to apply under to continue living in the United Kingdom after December 2020. The second phase will run from 1 November to 21 December and will test the full online application process. The number of participating organisations will significantly increase and will include staff in higher education, health, and social care sectors as well as vulnerable people with additional support needs. The aim of this second phase is to help ensure that the EU Settlement Scheme will operate as effectively as possible when it launches fully next year. The UK government anticipates that the phased implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme will be secured through further changes to the Immigration Rules to be laid before Parliament in December 2018 (for implementation in January 2019) and in early March 2019, so that the scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The UK government announced plans to double the Immigration Health Surcharge from £200 per year to £400 per year in order to better reflect the NHS cost of treating those temporarily resident in the United Kingdom. Currently, migrants applying for a UK work, study, or family visa for longer than six months are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £200 per year. The planned increase will come into effect in December 2018, subject to parliamentary approval, and will mean that those applying for UK work, study, or family visas from December 2018 will pay a surcharge of £400 per year. Students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme will see an increase from £150 to £300 per year.
Streamlined Services to Launch for Applicants Within the UK
From November 2018, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will offer new streamlined services for those applying from within the United Kingdom. Paper forms will continue to be withdrawn and the majority of UK-based applications will be made online. Applicants will submit supporting documentation through a more secure digital process with the ability to upload evidence, meaning the majority of applicants may be able to retain their passports and provide copies of documents rather than originals. The majority of applicants will attend appointments in centres located in six major cities, or at one of 50 additional user-pay centres located in local libraries. Applicants using the Premium Service will attend an appointment at a Premium Service Point in central London. The new appointment centres will open between 5 November and early December, and during this transition period, applicants can choose whether to apply via the new centres or use existing processes. Full information on individual application sites and the detailed process will follow in late October 2018.