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Visa changes you must know before April

by 1st Contact | Feb 14, 2011
  • On 23 November 2010, the Home Secretary announced a number of changes to UK immigration law and policy as part of the government's commitment to place a limit on non-EU migration to the UK.

    The changes largely affect Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, and those who wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain should especially take note of the changes before they come into effect in April this year. These are the most important changes to know, whether you are already in the UK or not.

    Tier 1 Changes

    The Tier 1 General route is now closed to applications from outside the UK and NO applications are being accepted. This means you have to find a different route to entry if you want to come into the UK to live and work. This category will close to applications from inside the UK on 05 April 2011.

    The Tier 1 Entrepreneur route will be revamped. Whereas previously entrepreneurs or start-ups had to meet the minimum investment criteria, it seems there will be some flexibilty for the most promising entrepreneurs wanting to start up in the UK. It also seems likely that no limits will be in place for this route.

    The Tier 1 Investor route has also been reviewed to offer an accelerated route to settlement, dependant on the level of investment; and here too, maximim limits seem likely to be removed.

    A Tier 1 route for ‘Persons of exceptional talent’ has been introduced for migrants who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show sufficient exceptional promise, if their applications are endorsed by a competent body in a relevant field (for instance if Simon Cowell discovered an amazing singing talent in New Zealand and wanted to manage the artist from the UK). The 'exceptional talent' category will be subject to a limit of 1,000 places per annum.

    Tier 2 Changes

    The Tier 2 General route will have a limit of 20 700 places for 2011/12. The good news is that this limit will not apply to:

    • in-country applications;
    • dependants of Tier 2 migrants;
    • Tier 2 applicants filling a vacancy and with a salary of more than £150,000;
    • Tier 2 Sportsperson, Minister of religion or Intra company transfer applicants.

    Tier 2 General applications will only be considered for graduate-level vacancies and the Migration Advisory Committee recently advised the government which jobs are considered to be graduate-level. The previous total was 191 occupations, which have now been reduced to a total of 121 on the recommended list. The positive is that positions such as financial, IT, nurses and medical professionals are still included on this list.

    Tier 2 General migrants already in the UK and in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.

    The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 General applications will be increased from basic to intermediate level.

    Applications for certificates of sponsorship will be looked at on a monthly basis and ranked according to whether or not the position is on the shortage occupations list or requires higher academic qualifications, as well as the salary.

    Changes to Settlement Criteria

    • Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to meet the income criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay.
    • Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the 'Life in the UK' test prior to gaining settlement.
    • Further leave to remain will no longer be granted to those who fail the Knowlege of Life requirement.
    • Applicants must not have any unspent criminal convictions.

    Finding the right solutions

    If you are unsure of your options, why not speak to a qualified consultant at 1st Contact Visas and let them find the best solution for you. Thousands of people are unaware of all their options and in some cases, applicants aren’t even aware that they could qualify for a British Passport!

    Visit our visas section to find out more or call 0808 141 5508 (UK) or 0800 003 163 (SA) to speak to a friendly and highly specialised consultant.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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