Earlier this month, the U.K. government announced new requirements for those wishing to live and work in the U.K. under the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories of the points-based system. The new rules will come into effective on 6 April 2011, and those applying on or after that date will have to meet the new criteria. However, those who applied for leave to enter or remain under Tier 1 or Tier 2 category prior to 6 April 2011 will have their applications considered under the old rules regardless of the date of a decision on their applications.
Tier 1 Visa Changes
Without a doubt, the most significant change to the U.K. immigration rules is the abolition of Tier 1 (General) and Tier 1 (Post Study Work) categories which were hugely popular amongst well educated young professionals wishing to gain work experience and further their professional careers in the U.K.
The out-of-country Tier 1 route was closed on 23 December 2010, and as of 6 April 2011 in-country switching into the Tier 1 (G) or Tier 1 (PSW) will no longer be an option for migrants.
The good news is that there will be transitional arrangements in place, which will allow those already in the U.K. under the Tier 1 (G)/HSMP category to extend their leave. However, the threshold for extensions will be raised to 100 points for those who were required to score 95 points when they were originally granted their Tier 1 (G) leave.
Migrants with an existing leave under the Tier 1 (PSW) category or its predecessor categories and those in Tier 4 will not be able to switch into Tier 1 (G), but will be permitted to switch into Tier 2 (General). The allocation of a CoS for the purpose of such a switching application will not count toward the annual limit in 2011/12. Furthermore, those switching from Tier 1 (PSW) category who have been in the post for six months or more will not be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test.
Tier 2 Visa Changes
According to the new criteria, a U.K.-based company will be able to sponsor only migrants in graduate-level positions. The applicants will have to meet a higher salary threshold and will have to prove competence in the English language to level B1.
These new requirements will not apply to Tier 2 migrants or work permit holders who were granted leave to enter or remain before 6 April 2011 or those wishing to work for a different employer. All changes of employers will be subject to the Resident Labour Market Test.
Similarly, all migrants with an existing leave under Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer won’t be affected by the new rules.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (SETTLEMENT) Visas
On the 23 November 2010, the Home Secretary set out the government’s intention to restrict settlement and to end the link between temporary migration for work or study and staying in the U.K. permanently. The U.K. government is planning further reforms and will be tightening the settlement rules from April 2011. Applicants interested in applying for ILR later this year are advised to follow the news regularly to avoid any disappointments.