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.
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.
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.