Theresa May announced substantive changes to the immigration rules, which would limit the number of immigrants entering the UK on the basis of marriage or having family members here. Some of the changes, coming into force on the 9th July 2012, were covered by Samina Iqbal and Nishan Paramjorthy, at the seminar given by Renaissance Chambers on the 13th June 2012. More extensive coverage can be found in another article here.
But let’s not forget the changes, introduced on the 6th April 2012, these were to be covered at the seminar, but overtaken by the more recent changes. An overview of the new rules will be covered below, but for more extensive coverage, refer to the detailed seminar notes, which can be found here.
One of the losses seen was in relation to the Tier 1 (PSW) category, which, was closed with immediate on effect on the 6th April 2012, although individuals were left with an opportunity to switch to remain as Tier 2 (general) migrants.
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme was also introduced to fill the gap left behind by Tier 1 (PSW’s) closure. It is meant to be for those who have been identified by UK universities (Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), as having developed world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills, but who are not yet in a position to meet the full requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route. However, it is more restrictive than the Tier 1 (PSW), as not only will applicants have to be sponsored by the HEI from which they have graduated, there are also only 1000 places open for the first year and furthermore any time that is spent in this category does not count towards settlement.
There are a number of categories of Tier 2 that can be used to sponsor a migrant, the most popular being as Tier 2 (General) Migrants. This category is for skilled migrants with a job offer in the UK, but they would need to demonstrate that they were assigned to a Certificate of Sponsorship for one of the following reasons that is; there was a shortage of that occupation, that they would be earning at least £150,000 p/a, that the sponsor had completed a Resident Labour Market Test or that the extension application was by the same sponsor.
Some of the recent changes announced by the UKBA affecting Tier 2 (General) migrants are retrospective and therefore apply to all Tier 2 (General) migrants who entered the UK from 6 April 2011. The key changes can be summarised as follows:
1) Tier 2 migrants will then have their stay in the UK capped to a maximum of 6 years
2) Tier 2 (General) migrants eligible to apply for settlement after 5 years, would need to demonstrate a salary of at least £35,000 per annum and further that they continued to meet the minimum rate of salary in the appropriate Code of Practice. If the application were unsuccessful, the migrant would have to leave the UK after 6 years.
3) If unsuccessful in the settlement application, individuals would have to leave the UK and then be subject to a new “cooling off period”, introduced for Tier 2 migrants (who have entered the UK from 6 April 2011 onwards). That is, those migrants would not be able to re-enter the UK under another Tier 2 visa for a period of 12 months, from the date their last visa expired. This cooling off period would also apply if the migrant was to leave the UK prior to the 6 year period.
For students under Tier 4, all sponsors must now become Highly Trusted and pass an inspection of their college/university by a designated independent body. There are also now limitations as to how long that can be spent on studying at Tier 4 degree level, which is now 5 years, with some exceptions. Furthermore courses at degree level and with no study abroad will only allow work placements for a third of time taken to study for the degree, to ensure, more time is spent undertaking formal study
In relation to Tier 5, changes were made due to the closure of Tier 1 (Post-Study Workers) to enable Tier 4 (General) Students to switch to Tier 5 (Temporary Workers) if they were applying under the Government Authorised Exchange scheme, to undertake a period of professional training or work experience that was required to obtain a professional qualification or professional registration in the same field as their qualification, before returning overseas. But there would also be a limit to the length of time temporary workers could stay in the UK, under certain Government Authorised Exchange schemes, to a maximum of 12 months.
More interesting, is the new visitor route (permitted paid engagements). A short one month visit visa open to those professionals, who are invited to come to the United Kingdom to carry out an engagement that relates to their particular skill or expertise for which they will receive a fee.
In relation to those wanting to bring their domestic workers, entry will now be restricted to a maximum of six months, with no extensions. Domestic workers will be unable to change employers, apply for settlement or bring their dependants, although these restrictions do not apply if they work in diplomatic households.
In relation to curtailment, those found not to be complying with the terms of their visa, will be subject to mandatory curtailment rather than requiring case by case consideration, although there are some very limited exceptions to this rule (as covered in the notes). But those subject to mandatory curtailment will normally be given 60 days to make an application to vary their leave or change their Sponsor.
It is too soon to comment on the impact of these changes for individuals, but it is clear that most changes, demonstrate a trend to reduce migration into the UK and limit the number of migrants eligible to settle in the UK.