Tier 1 General (HSMP) Immigration Cap. Possible Effects & Changes To Tier 1 General in 2010/2011

Immediate Immigration Cap effects on Tier 1 General (HSMP)

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, is expected to announce a 24,100 temporary Immigration Cap tomorrow on workers (there has been no mention of students under Tier 4 so far). Although this limit grabs headlines and signals intent from the new Conservative / Liberal Democrat Government it is not expected to have a massive impact between now and April 2011 as it is only 5% down on previous figures. The temporary limit is really aimed at ‘testing the water’ to see how an Immigration Cap will work in practice prior to the full roll out next year. Therefore the temporary Immigration Cap should have no immediate effect on those planning to apply under Tier 1 General as requirements should remain the same. However, it may be the case that the Coalition Government attempts to make it easier for certain professionals to come to the UK in the future (e.g. Healthcare & Engineering Professionals) and more difficult for others (e.g. Information Technology Consultants).

Our advice is that if you have enough points to qualify submit an application now; otherwise you may find you are unable to secure the visa in the future (see below).

Long Term Immigration Cap effects on Tier 1 General and the UK Economy

In the long term UK businesses & the economy as a whole may suffer significantly from the Immigration Cap. Companies will be unable to attract the best and brightest workers for jobs, less ground breaking products & services will be developed meaning less high value start ups will be formed (resulting in fewer jobs & lower tax receipts) & skill shortages may mean that UK businesses find it difficult to compete in the global economy. Areas such as Healthcare & Engineering are already facing significant skill shortages (see Tier 2 General (Work Permit) Immigration Cap – Possible effects and changes to Tier 2 General in 2010 / 2011).

Possible Changes to Tier 1 General in 2010 / 2011 further to the Immigration Cap

Skilled Occupation Lists & Skill Assessments

The Government may well try to change Tier 1 General so that it attracts highly skilled migrants with skills specifically in demand in the UK. If there is a reduced pool of highly skilled professionals from abroad UK businesses should at least benefit from more of those with desired skills (e.g. Healthcare & Engineering professionals).

In order to do this the Government may bring in a Skilled Occupation List, with applicants receiving more points for skills in demand. For example IT Consultants receive 10 points, Engineers receive 20 points and Healthcare professionals receive 30 points. Those working in occupations not on the list would be unable to apply for a Tier 1 General visa.

A Skilled Occupation List has been used in Australia for a number of years & since the Points Based System as a whole was modelled on the Australian Immigration system it would be logical to follow suit. Under such a system highly skilled workers would have there skills assessed and evaluated by an approved professional body prior to submitting a visa application.

Points for Geographic Location

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, included plans for a ‘Regional Points Based System’ in his parties General Election Manifesto. The plan was to send economic migrants to areas of the country where they were specifically needed as at present the vast majority tend to choose metropolitan areas such as London due to greater employment options, higher rates of pay and well established immigrant communities. The party intended to change the Immigration system so that it was easier to gain a work permit if the migrant went to live and work in an area of the country short of skilled workers.

Future changes to Tier 1 General could include such plans with bonus points being awarded for working in an area of the country deemed to be in need of certain professionals. Once again a similar scheme has been in place in Australia for some time, with migrant Doctors required in rural areas rather than built up metropolitan centres.

Qualification Requirement

During the recession the Qualification points scoring area of Tier 1 was changed so that those with a Bachelor’s Degree were unable to qualify. Bachelor’s Qualifications were only reintroduced into Tier 1 General prior to the General Election by the Labour Government. At the time many highly skilled professionals found they were unable to qualify for Tier 1 meaning a significant drop in applications. Could the Coalition Government be about to increase the requirements once again in order to attract only the highest level professionals?

Previous Earning Requirement

The previous earnings points scoring bands for Tier 1 General have already been increased this year however we could see a further increase if the Government intends to restrict numbers.

English Language & Maintenance Requirements

Changes to the English Language & Maintenance Requirements are not envisaged.

Effects on existing Tier 1 General Migrants

Any changes to the Immigration System should not have a serious effect on those already in the UK on a Tier 1 General Visa or HSMP. The Government encountered problems a few years ago when it tried to make retrospective changes to the HSMP / Tier 1 General category and ended up loosing a Judicial Decision to the HSMP Forum.

Commonwealth Contractors

Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing a Tier 1 Visa Application / Extension and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a doctor on a Tier 2.

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0800 294 4388 or Submit your details now and we will get right back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.

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