The first monthly allocation of restricted Tier 2 (General) certificates of sponsorship took place today. All valid applications received by 6 April 2011 were successful.
The following changes have, as of today, been introduced:
- A new criminality threshold, excluding migrants from settlement if they have unspent convictions.
- A new income requirement, requiring Tier 1 (General) migrants to meet the same income criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay in the UK. Migrants who have been in Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra company transfer), or who have held work permits, must be being paid the appropriate rate as stated in the code of practice.
- Amendments to the English language requirement. Tier 1 and 2 migrants must now pass the Life in the UK test rather than an ESOL with citizenship course.
- An accelerated route to settlement for Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants who meet the new enhanced criteria
The UKBA has today launched a new list of approved English Language tests for:
- applications under Tiers 1, 2 and 4 of the points-based system; and
- applications by spouses and partners.
There are transitional arrangements in force but all existing lists of English language test providers will be replaced by the new list. The full new list can be viewed here.
The government’s new annual limit on non-EEA workers comes into force today. Under the annual limit, only a total of 20,700 people from outside the EU would be allowed to enter under under Tier 2 (General) of the Points-Based System. A further 1,000 visas will be made available to people of ‘exceptional talent’. The 1,000 exceptional talent visas will be given to those who are believed will make the biggest contribution to science and the arts in the UK.
Prospective Tier 2 (General) migrants will now need to have a graduate-level job offer, speak an intermediate level of English and meet specific salary and employment requirements. Those earning a salary of £150,000 or more will not be subject to the annual limit.
In addition, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visas, who are not subject to the annual limit, will be changed in 3 ways:
- the job will have to be in an occupation on the graduate occupation list;
- only those paid £40,000 or more will be able to stay for more than a year – they will be given permission to stay for 3 years, with the possibility of extending for a further 2 years; and
- those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be allowed to come to the UK for no longer than 12 months, at which point they must leave the UK and will not be able to re-apply for 12 months.
Tier 1 of the PBS will be restricted to all but entrepreneurs, investors and people of exceptional talent. The Tier 1 (General) category has now been abolished. The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa will be for current and prospective leaders in the fields of science, engineering and the arts.
Changes have also been made to Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements for Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants. Under the new visa rules for Tier 1 (Investors), those who invest large sums of money will see their right to settle permanently in the UK speed up. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years. This compares with the minimum 5-year requirement that is currently in place. Similarly Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly, provided they create 10 jobs or turn over £5 million in a 3-year period.
Today Parliament approved the Remedial Order that will abolish the certificate of approval (“COA”) scheme. On 9 May 2011 the scheme will be abolished.
Following Parliamentary approval, new immigration fees will be introduced from Wednesday 6 April 2011 for foreign nationals applying to visit, study, work or settle in the UK, and for employers and education providers applying for a sponsor licence.
The new fees were announced on 28 February by Immigration Minister Damian Green. Applicants and representatives making an application on or after 6 April 2011, will need to ensure that they enclose the correct fee. The UKBA will return any applications where an incorrect fee is paid.
You can find a list of all the new fees here.