Major Changes to Tier 1 & Tier 2 Announced

Changes to Tier 1 (for Highly Skilled Individuals)

  • Tier 1 General: The ‘General’ subcategory of Tier 1 will be closed all together.
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur):  The ‘Entrepreneur’ sub category of Tier 1 will be reformed to make it more attractive to international Entrepreneurs. Promising start up companies which do not meet the investment threshold will be offered an route to doing business in the UK. This Immigration route will not be subject to the Permanent Immigration Cap
  • Tier 1 (Investor): The ‘Investor’ subcategory will be reformed to offer an ‘accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment’. This Immigration route will not be subject to the Permanent Immigration Cap
  • New route for Persons of Exceptional Talent: A new Immigration route will be introduced for persons of exceptional talent (the old HSMP route used to include points for such people). This category will be limited to 1,000 places and will be for those 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’. Migrants applying under this category will need to be endorsed by a competent body in the relevant field.

The unexpected closure of the Tier 1 (General) route has been announced following the findings of a recent study undertaken by the UK Border Agency which found that around 33% of Tier 1 visa holders (formerly the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) were currently working in low-skilled jobs such as shop assistants and supermarket cashiers.

The Coalition Government’s Immigration Minister, Damian Green, said at the time that ‘While it is important that low-skilled jobs are filled, there are hundreds of thousands of British people who could be doing them instead of a migrant. Those coming into the UK under the highly skilled migrant route should only be able to do highly skilled jobs – it should not be used as a means to enter the low-skilled jobs market. Investors and entrepreneurs aside, this report questions the value of this route into the UK, and the findings will play a key part in discussions on how the annual limit will be shaped.\’

Changes to Tier 2 (for Skilled Individuals)

  • Tier 2 (General): The ‘General’ subcategory of Tier 2 (formerly Business and Commercial Work Permits) will be subjected to a limit of 20,700 places for 2011 / 2012. Fortunately due to pressure from UK Business groups the Tier 2 General subcategory has not encountered such severe changes.
  • The Permanent Immigration Cap Limit (which will be administered on a month by month basis) will not include:
    • In-country applications from those already in the United Kingdom
    • Dependents of Tier 2 Migrants
    • Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,00
    • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants – Premier League footballers have of course been left outside the Immigration Cap otherwise there truly would be uproar
    • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants
    • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants
  • Established Staff under the Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) subcategory 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
  • Only those positions considered to be graduate level vacancies will be allowed under the new provisions of Tier 2 General. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will shortly advise what are to be considered graduate-level jobs, and we 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 English Language Requirement for Tier 2 (General) applicants will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference)
  • Certificate of Sponsorship applications will be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to:
    • Shortage occupations in the first instance
    • Whether the post requires higher academic qualifications; AND
    • Salary

Changes to Settlement (Permanent Residence) in the United Kingdom

  • A new criminality threshold will apply, requiring applicants to be clear of unspent convictions, for all those applying for settlement
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants applying for settlement will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay
  • If an applicant fails to pass the minimum English language requirement, their application for settlement will be refused.

The changes detailed above will take place in April 2011. If you are currently considering applying under Tier 1 General and you believe that you qualify please contact Commonwealth Contractors immediately to see how we can help. Any delay in applying may result in an applicant being unable to apply in the future.

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 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit). Commonwealth Contractors also provides updates on UK Immigration News.

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners