Annual limit for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applications
The Home Secretary, Theresa May announced on 23 November 2010 a number of changes to immigration policy in respect of Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system. The changes are as follows:-
The Tier 1 (General) route will be closed.
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be reformed to make it more attractive. The UK Border Agency will introduce flexibilities and create a new avenue for start-up companies which do not meet the requisite investment threshold.
The Tier 1 (Investor) route will also be reformed to offer an accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment.
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) routes will not be subject to a limit on numbers.
A Tier 1 route for persons of exceptional talent will be introduced. This will cover migrants who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show sufficient exceptional promise to be awarded such recognition in the future. Applications by those with exceptional promise will be endorsed by a competent body in the relevant field. The ‘exceptional talent’ category will be subject to a limit of 1,000 places. Tier 2 will continue to be open to migrants working in these fields.
The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to a limit of 20,700 places for 2011/12.
This limit will not apply to:
- in-country applications from those already in the UK;
- dependants of Tier 2 migrants;
- Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000;
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants;
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants; and
- Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants.
Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants in the Established staff sub-category will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.
The current rules will continue to apply to Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) migrants in the Graduate trainee and Skills transfer sub-categories.
Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies. The Migration Advisory Committee will advise us on what are to be considered graduate-level jobs, and the UK Border Agency will amend the shortage occupation list accordingly. Existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.
The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 (General) applications will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).
From April 2011:
- There will be a new criminality threshold, requiring all applicants applying for settlement to be clear of unspent convictions.
- Skilled and highly skilled migrants will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay.
- Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test prior to gaining settlement.
For those entering in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the points-based system after April 2011:
- The UK Border Agency will stop their current policy of granting further leave to remain to those who fail the Knowledge of Life requirement.
- The UK Border Agency will cap Tier 2 (intra company transfer) route at five years.
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