The Border Agency has recently published a summary of the latest changes to the Points Based System affecting employers, employees and education providers who sponsor migrant students.

New route for employers

The UK Border Agency hopes to develop an ‘employer led’ route for interns and graduates recruited by UK businesses. Although it is too early to say for certain how this will work, the route would most likely sit alongside the existing tier 5 policies and Government Authorised Exchange scheme.

‘Employer led’, the route may emerge as being similar to the Training and Work Experience Scheme (TWES), which allowed organisations to bring in non-EEA citizens for the purposes of training towards professional or specialist qualifications, or practical work experience, but was closed on 27th November 2008 when the new Tier 2 system was introduced. The UK Border Agency has stated that although the GAE scheme has been both effective and useful, “business needs a slightly more flexible route”. Though no precise details have been published yet, the UKBA has acknowledged the issue needs to be dealt with quickly.

Switching to Tier 2 (General)

For individuals switching from Tier 1 (Post Study Work), the International Graduates Scheme, the Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme or the science and Engineering Graduates Scheme to Tier 2 (General), the Tier 2 Sponsor is no longer required to provide a letter verifying the individual’s employment for the 6 months prior to the application.

Changes to SMS

Whilst preparing for the extension of the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) to cover Tier 4 in October 2009, the UK Border Agency is now consulting with sponsors across Tiers 2, 4 and 5 regarding an upgraded, enhanced version of the system due to be launched in February 2010. Sponsors and stakeholders have been asked for their preferred enhancements through a series of meetings, with the updates to be revealed later this year.

The above is not exhaustive and a fully detailed table of all the changes can be viewed here.

For further details on any of these changes or general information relating to all Tiers of the Points Based System, please contact us.