UK Home Secretary announces important changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 routes in April 2011

Further to a speech by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, on 23rd November 2010, the UK Government is to introduce the following changes to Tier 1 of the points based system:

  • The Tier 1 (General) route will be closed entirely from April 2011;
  • A brand new category will be introduced as part of Tier 1. This route will be for individuals with ‘exceptional talent’ i.e. scientists, academics and artists who have achieved international recognition or are likely to do so. There will be an annual cap of 1000 visas for this category;
  • There will be no cap on the number of visas granted under the Entrepreneur and Investor categories. Under this category the Government will create a new route for start-up companies which do not meet the current investment threshold;
  • The UK Government has announced that they are investigating closing the Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) category. No decision on this has yet been made.

The Government will also introduce the following changes to Tier 2 in April 2011:

  • An annual limit of 20,700 Tier 2 (General) out of country applications. This is an increase of 7000 in comparison to last year’s number;
  • The Tier 2 (General) category will be limited to graduate level jobs. Although individuals already in the UK holding Tier 2 (General) in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay;
  • A salary threshold of £40,000 on Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) where the migrant employee will be here for longer than 12 months.
  • Individuals entering the UK on a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) will be restricted to 5 years’ stay in the UK.

We would advise anyone who is currently outside of the UK and intending to apply under the Tier 1 (General) scheme to apply as soon as possible. Due to the current ‘limit’, out of country applications are subject to delays. Any applications that are pending upon the removal of the Tier 1 (General) scheme are likely to be automatically refused.

We will keep you updated on these changes and further information will be published shortly. If you have any queries, please contact us.