Changes to UK Immigration Rules
Further to a written ministerial statement which has been laid in Parliament, the UK Border Agency has outlined a number of changes to the Immigration Rules.
Most of the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. Some of the changes to Tier 2 will affect those who were granted leave after 6 April 2011.
The changes include:
- The Tier 1 (post Study Work) route will be closed.
- A new Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) route will be introduced.
- New provisions will be introduced for changing immigration status from Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Post-study work) into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.
- The limit of 1000 places for Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will be renewed for each of the following two years.
- Limit the total amount of temporary leave that may be granted to a Tier 2 migrant to 6 years (which applies to those who entered after 6 April 2011).
- Introduce a new minimum pay requirement of £35,000 or the appropriate rate for the job, for Tier 2 general and sportsperson migrants who wish to settle in the UK from April 2016 (with exemptions for those in PhD level and shortage occupation categories).
- Introduce a ‘cooling-off period’ across all the Tier 2 routes. That is to say, Tier 2 migrants will be required to wait for 12 months from the expiry of their previous visa before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.
- Introduce new post-study arrangements for graduates switching into Tier 2.
- Extend the interim limit for sponsors that have applied for educational oversight and Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have not yet been assessed.
- Introduce limits on the time that can be spent studying at degree level.
- Tighten work placement restrictions.
- Limit the length of time temporary workers can stay in the UK, under certain Government Authorised Exchange schemes, to a maximum of 12 months. The schemes affected are intern, work experience and youth exchange type programmes.
- Allow sportspersons who enter under the Tier 5 creative and sporting sub-category to undertake some guest sports broadcasting work where they are not filling a permanent position.
Changes affecting all tiers of the Points-Based System
- Make curtailment mandatory where a migrant under Tiers 2, 4, or 5 of the points-based system has failed to start, or has ceased, their work or study with their sponsor. This includes cases where a sponsor notifies the UKBA, via the sponsor management system (SMS), that a migrant is no longer pursuing the purpose of their visa. The Rules will also set out the limited exceptions to mandatory curtailment.
- Reduce the curtailment threshold from 6 months to 60 days.
- Increase the funds applicants will need to provide evidence of, in order to meet the maintenance requirements for all routes in the points-based system. For Tier 4 and Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme the changes will come into effect on 6 April 2012. For Tier 1, Tier 2 and temporary workers under Tier 5 the changes will come into effect on 14 June 2012.
- A new visitor route will allow a small group of professionals, artists, entertainers and sportspersons who are invited to come to the UK to undertake short-term permitted fee paid engagements for up to 1 month.
Overseas Domestic Workers
- Restrict all overseas domestic workers (ODW) to only work for the employer with whom they entered the UK, or whom they came to join.
- Remove the right for all migrants under the ODW category to apply for settlement.
- Strengthen the requirement for the employer of an ODW to provide evidence of an existing employer relationship, and introducing a requirement for agreed, written terms and conditions of employment to be produced, as part of the application for entry clearance.
- Permit all ODWs who have applied for leave to enter or remain on or before 5 April 2012, to continue to be treated under Immigration Rules in place on that date.
- Restrict ODWs in private households to work for an employer who is a visitor to the UK. Permission to stay in the UK will be limited to a maximum of 6 months or the period of the employer’s stay whichever is shorter. Removing the current provision for ODWs to be accompanied by dependants.
- Permit ODWs in diplomatic households to apply to extend their stay for 12 months at a time up to a maximum of 5 years, or the length of the diplomat’s posting, whichever is shorter.
- Introduce a Premium Customer Service for those A-rated sponsors in Tiers 2 and 5 who wish to apply and pay for a range of benefits. The UKBA will publish the full range of service benefits in due course.
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