The following changes to the points based immigration system came into force on 6 April 2012.
The Tier 1 (Post-study work) category, which enables migrants to work in the UK for two years after graduating from a UK institution, closed to new applicants. Any migrant who has existing permission to work under this category may continue to do so until their leave to remain expires, at which point they must switch to another category or leave the country. Many employers used this scheme to recruit employees before switching them into the Tier 2 (General) category without having to carry out a resident labour market test. This will no longer be possible.
New post-study arrangements have been introduced enabling qualifying migrants wishing to switch from Tier 4 (General) (the Student category) into the Tier 2 (General) category. The employer will not need to satisfy the resident labour market test but all other criteria will apply. Applicants must have completed or passed a UK degree, Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education, or have completed a minimum of 12 months study towards a UK PhD at a listed or recognised body or one which has a Tier 4 sponsor licence.
A new category, Graduate Entrepreneur, has been introduced. Under this category participating Higher Education Institutions will be able to identify graduates who have developed world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills and, in doing so, enable them to remain in the UK after their graduation to develop a business for a period of up to 2 years.
Tier 2 – Skilled workers – Limiting total temporary leave to remain
Tier 2 migrants who entered the UK after 6 April 2011 will be able to spend a maximum of six years in total in the General, Minister of religion or Sportsperson categories. After leaving the UK, a period of 12 months must elapse before a migrant will be granted entry clearance to return under the Tier 2 category.
Visitors undertaking permitted paid engagements
At present all migrants entering the UK in the Visitor category, including business visitors, must not work or receive payment whilst in the UK. A new category will enable a small group of professionals to carry out a paid engagement relating to their particular skill or expertise (permitted activities), staying for up to one month. These include: migrants lecturing, examining students or participating in chair selection panels; and professional artists, entertainers and sports persons carrying our engagements in relation to their profession.
Maintenance funds (affecting all tiers of the points-based system)
The maintenance funds required by migrants and their dependants are being increased to reflect changes in the costs of living and studying in the UK and will be reviewed annually.
The content of this item does not constitute legal advice and it should not be relied upon. Specific legal advice may be required to address your specific circumstance.