New settlement criteria & Tier 2 visa changes

16 March 2012

In a statement of changes, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) yesterday announced changes to Tier 2 and Settlement Visas. It is likely that the changes will come into effect as of 6th April 2012.

The changes are as follows (as laid out by the UKBA) under the points-based system:

Tier 1 – high-value migrants
  • Closing the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route.
  • Introducing the new Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) route.
  • Introducing new provisions for switching from Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Post-study work) into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
  • Renewing the 1000 place limit for Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) for each of the next 2 years.
 Tier 2 – skilled workers
  • Limiting 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).
  • Introducing 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 here from April 2016 (with exemptions for those in PhD level and shortage occupation categories).
  • Introducing a ‘cooling-off period’ across all the Tier 2 routes. Tier 2 migrants will need to wait for 12 months from the expiry of their previous visa before they may apply for a further Tier 2 visa.
  • Introducing new post-study arrangements for graduates switching into Tier 2.
Tier 4 – students
  • Implementing the final set of changes to the student visa system that were announced in March 2011, including:
  • Extending the interim limit for sponsors that have applied for educational oversight and Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have not yet been assessed.
  • Introducing limits on the time that can be spent studying at degree level.
  • Tightening work placement restrictions.
Tier 5 – temporary workers
  • Limiting 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.
  • Allowing 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 in all tiers of the points-based system
  • Making 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 us, 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.
  • Reducing the curtailment threshold (the level of leave you have left which means that we will not normally pursue curtailment) from 6 months to 60 days.
  • Increasing 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.