Student update: changes to the Immigration Rules (21 July 2023)

21 July 2023


The Home Office has published changes to the Immigration Rules, which will affect immigration applications for the UK.

The Statement of Changes which explains the changes to the Rules, was published on 17 July 2023, but the changes won’t happen until the dates outlined below. 


Following an announcement made by the Home Office in May 2023, the Immigration Rules were amended on 17 July 2023. These changes affect Students who make immigration applications under the Student route from 3pm that day, and who are studying a postgraduate course starting on or after 1 January 2024. Such Students who are studying a postgraduate course starting on or after 1 January 2024, and who don’t fall into any of the other categories of Students who can have dependants, can only have dependants in the UK (under the Student route) where, in addition to the other criteria already set out in this category, their course is one of the following:  

  • A PhD course; 
  • A doctoral qualification; or
  • A research-based higher degree

A “Research-based higher degree” is defined in the Immigration Rules and refers to a postgraduate programme which comprises a research component (including a requirement to produce original work), that is larger than any accompanying taught component when measured by student effort. 

We have updated our student pages to reflect these changes.  

The EU Settlement Scheme 

Following a court judgement, there will be changes to the EU Settlement Scheme. The Immigration Rules from 9 August 2023, will remove the requirement to apply for continuing immigration permission before the expiry of pre-settled status. The Rules will say (from that date) that the UK government may extend limited permission under the EU Settlement Scheme regardless of whether the person with the permission makes an application under the scheme.  

In addition, from 9 August 2023, the assessment of ‘reasonable grounds’ undertaken when an applicant makes a late application to the scheme will happen at the stage of deciding whether the application is valid.  Therefore, if a caseworker decides that there are no ‘reasonable grounds’ for a late application, it will be rejected as ‘invalid’ rather than refused. 

Other changes are explained in pages 3 and 4 of the Explanatory Memorandum of the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 1496  

Switching from Student permission to work routes 

Update (25 July 2023) - Please note that our original news item detailing these changes outlined the "new entrant" option for Skilled Worker visas. We have removed references to this process whilst we clarify some points with the Home Office, and further clarification will be shared as soon as possible.

As of 3pm 17 July 2023, those with Student immigration permission have new restrictions on switching out of the Student route into certain work routes. Affected routes include Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility, Minister of Religion, Representative of Overseas Business, UK Ancestry, Global Talent, High Potential Individual, Scale-up, Innovator Founder, International Sportsperson, Creative Worker, Religious Worker, Charity Worker, International Agreement, and Government Authorised Exchange. 

Those with Student immigration permission must now normally have completed their course of study before switching into any of the aforementioned routes. This will be confirmed by the course end date on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). PhD students will be able to switch into the aforementioned work routes after 24 months have passed from the course start date on your CAS.


If you are a national of Dominica, Honduras, Namibia, Timor-Leste or Vanuatu, from 3pm on 19 July 2023, you will be required to obtain a Visitor visa in advance of your travel to the UK. The only exception to this is for nationals of the above countries who have already made travel arrangements and have a confirmed booking to the UK prior to 3pm on 19 July 2023. If this is the case, you will be permitted to enter the UK as a Visitor at the UK Border by declaring your intentions to a Border Force Officer. Although you will not need to secure a Visitor visa in advance of travel in these circumstances, your arrival in the UK must be no later than 16 August 2023.