• New UK Immigration Restrictions Announced
  • December 17, 2010 | Author: Scott M. James
  • Law Firm: Faegre & Benson LLP - London Office
  • The UK government recently announced a number of radical changes to the points based system with effect from April 2011.  The more popular highly skilled and skilled migrant categories will be subject to numerical limits, more restrictive criteria, or both, and the Tier 1 (General) category will cease.

    Tier 2 (Inter Company Transfer - Established Staff)

    Following much lobbying, the changes to this category affect only the length of stay.  Applicants in this category can work in the United Kingdom for up to five years if they earn over £40,000 (currently US$63,200).  Applicants earning between £24,000 (currently US$37,920) and £40,000 will be able to stay and work up to a maximum of twelve months.

    Tier 2 (General)

    Only 20,700 places will be available for Tier 2 (General) applicants in the year from April.  This figure is significantly lower than the number of these applications approved in 2009, an historically low year due to the recession. Tier 2 (General) applicants earning over £150,000 (currently US$237,000) and Tier 2 (General) applicants applying from within the United Kingdom will be among those exempt from this limit. 

    Where the limit applies, applications for certificates of sponsorship will be considered by UKBA on a monthly basis.  When the number of applications in any month exceeds the number available, the applications will be ranked and approved in the order in which the positions involved have the following characteristics, in descending order of priority:

    (a) relate to a shortage occupation position

    (b) require higher academic qualifications

    (c) pay a higher salary.

    The educational criteria for Tier 2 (General) applications will be raised too.  From April, only positions requiring a university degree will qualify.

    Tier 1

    The Tier 1 category will cease except for entrepreneurs, investors and - a new category - "persons of exceptional talent."  The latter category will be available to applicants who have won international recognition in scientific or cultural fields and to those "who show promise of being awarded that recognition in future."  In either case, these applications will have to be endorsed by a competent body in the relevant field.  Only 1,000 applications in this new category will be accepted annually.

    The government will publish fuller details of these changes over the coming months, including transition rights and procedures for those whose status will be affected by these changes.