In line with the UK Border Agency’s request, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recently suggested a number of options aimed at reducing settlement from skilled workers. Rather than a ‘do nothing’ option that the MAC mentioned in its response, which would nevertheless see settlement levels drop due to increasingly stricter requirements to enter the UK, the UK Border Agency has announced that it will likely introduce a minimum salary as a requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

The range within which the minimum salary should be set has been outlined as £31,000 – £49,000. The MAC report does suggest that some exceptions should be allowed to this bracket, so that key industry sectors with comparatively low salaries (e.g. nurses) are not excluded from settlement. However, the UK Border Agency has not yet clarified whether such exceptions will be worked into the new rules.

The UK Border Agency states that this salary requirement for settlement will not have any direct affect until 2016, five years after its introduction, as Tier 2 migrants need to have completed five years in the UK before they can apply for ILR.

It is unclear when in 2011 the new rules will be considered to have started. There was mention, in the initial consultation document published in June 2011, of new settlement rules being backdated to April 2011. The new rules would therefore include any Tier 2 migrants who entered the UK under the ‘cap’, in place since April 2011. However, the UK Border Agency’s statement on 8th November outlines that the required income threshold will be set for migrants at the time of entry to the UK. In this case, it should not be possible for the requirements to be backdated and should only affect Tier 2 migrants who enter the UK once the new rules have been clarified and introduced. We await further clarification on this point.

Tier 2 ICT visas are already capped at five years, after which the individual must leave the UK. Those Tier 2 General migrants who do not meet the salary requirement would also be required to leave the UK after this five year period is complete.

If you’d like us to carry out a free initial assessment of your case for Indefinite Leave to Remain, please contact us.