Overview of the UK Immigration Rules Changes from 6th April 2014

We have recently been writing about the various changes that will be brought about to the Immigration Rules through a Statement of Changes, coming into effect on the 6th of April.

Given that this date is now fast approaching we provide a useful summary of the main changes below: 

Tier 1

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category will be expanded to include those in the digital sector, who are endorsed by Tech City UK, as well as making it easier for applicants in this category to apply from overseas, and to count time spent in other immigration categories towards qualifying for settlement.

For Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurs, the allocation of some places to MBA graduates only is being removed, so that there will be 1,900 places available to graduates of any subject from UK institutions.

Tier 2

Tier 2 ICT and Tier 2 General – 5 year grants 

Going forward from 6th April, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) applicants may apply for 5 years” leave from the outset (rather than only up to 3 years) on payment of a higher fee. This is intended to increase the flexibility to applicants and Sponsors, as there will not be a period in the middle of their stay, if they intend to stay for 5 years, where the applicant will be without their passport. The higher fee  does not leave Sponsors out of pocket as the cost of the Certificate of Sponsorship will be the same, so it will actually save the cost of another COS (£184)which would normally be payable on extendsion.

Inflationary updates to minimum salary thresholds, SOC code salary rates and maintenance requirements 

For a variety of Tier 2 applications there will be an increase to the salary thresholds and appropriate salary rates for individual occupations. These updates are in line with changes in average weekly earnings for resident workers. The increases also apply to settlement applications by Tier 2 visa holders.

A summary of the new thresholds are as follows

Tier 2 (General) 

–          Jobs which qualify for Tier 2 (General) – £20,500 (up from £20,300)

–          Jobs which are exempt from advertising in Jobcentre Plus – £71,600 (up from £71,000)

–          Jobs which are exempt from the annual limit and the Resident Labour Market Test – £153,500 (up from £152,100)

Tier 2 (ICT) 

–          Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer or Graduate Trainee – £24,500 (up from £24,300)

–          Long Term Staff category (maximum stay five years) – £41,000 (up from £40,600)

–          Jobs which qualify for transfers of up to nine years – £153,500 (up from £152,100)

 

Earnings which qualify for settlement (those working in PhD-level or shortage occupations are exempt) 

–          £35,500 (for settlement applications made on or after 6th April 2018)

–          £35,800 (for settlement applications made on or after 6th April 2019)

There will also be an increase in the level of maintenance funds required for Points-Based System Migrants” dependants. In line with increases related to the cost of living, the changes for work routes (Tiers 1, 2 and 5) are based on the Consumer Price Index inflation since 2012, and the updates for Tier 4 Migrants are based on the rise in the maximum package of grants and loans available to home students since 2012. 

Further, the following SOC codes will be replaced with multiple options corresponding with the various job levels within those occupations:

–           2123 Electrical engineers

–          2211 Medical practitioners

–          2213 Pharmacists

–          2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classified

–          2231 Nurses

–          2442 Social workers

Fee Increases

The Home Office has announced that there will be a general increase to “the majority” of fees of by at least 4% from 6 April 2014. This includes short term visit visas.

TB Testing Extended to More Countries –

As of 31 March, pre-application tuberculosis (TB) screening is required for those travelling to the UK for more than six months from seven more countries: Algeria, Belarus, Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Ukraine. 

 

If you have any questions about the upcoming changes to the UK immigration rules, please contact us on 0207 0012121.

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