Following the advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published last week, the Secretary of State announced new measures to manage the numbers of people from outside of Europe who can come to the UK.
It is clear the UK government wants to send a clear message, namely that the UK is still open for business and will continue to welcome the brightest and best people from around the world who are able to make a real difference to the UK’s economy. At the same time, the changes herald a new more selective approach by reducing the overall number of people coming to the UK though the economic routes.
The new rules will take effect from April 2011, some of the changes will include:
- Introduction of an annual limit of 21,700 for those coming into the UK under the skilled and highly skilled routes - 20,700 under Tier 2 (General) and 1,000 under the new 'exceptional talent' route;
- Increase of the minimum salary to £40,000 for those coming under the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer);
- Removal of Tier 1 General category;
- Introduction of a minimum graduate level requirement under Tier 2 (General) category.
Tier 1 category
According to the UK immigration authorities one-third of those coming to the UK under the Tier 1 General (Highly Skilled Migrant) category actually do low-skilled jobs whilst in the UK. Consequently, the authorities will restrict the Tier 1 of the points-based system category to entrepreneurs, investors only. The current General and Post Study Work categories will be permanently removed. A new sub- category of ‘exceptional talent’ will be introduced to attract the brightest and the best people.
Following pressure from the UK businesses the government decided to give priority to those who are coming to fill in specific vacancies with UK based sponsors under the Tier 2 category. Applicants under Tier 2 will still be required to apply for a visa from the UK Border Agency through the points-based system, will have to be of graduate level, be sponsored by an employer and will be awarded points based on scarcity of skills and salary. However, they will be competing against other applicants for a visa to enter the UK and, in months when the limit is oversubscribed, only those with the most points will qualify for one of the certificates of sponsorship available each month.
UK employers will still be able to relocate their overseas employees under the Tier 2 (Intra -Company Transfer) route, however, migrants must be earning more than £40,000 in order to be able to stay in the UK for than 12 months. Furthermore, their stay will be restricted to 5 years.
The immigration authorities are currently focusing on Tier 4 of the points-based system - the student route which currently accounts for two-thirds of all migrants entering the UK. The government is aiming to stamp out abuse while continuing to attract top students to the top universities by introducing a system that is more selective and robust.
As part of the measures to reduce the number of students that can come into the UK further consideration will be given to:
- Focusing Tier 4 on higher-level courses and those offered by Highly Trusted sponsors- adults students;
- Introduction of tougher entry criteria such as English language competence;
- Ensuring that students wishing to extend their studies show evidence of academic progression;
- Limiting the student's entitlements to work and to sponsor dependants; and
- Improving the accreditation process for education providers, alongside more rigorous inspections.
It is likely that the above mentioned measures will affect applicants' entitlements to settlement and British nationality.
We would strongly recommend to contact us as soon as possible for any further guidance on the above changes.
Migra & Co is one of the country’s leading immigration companies providing specialist UK visa advice and solutions to both private and corporate clients.
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