The UKBA has published a Statement of Intent document, outlining changes to the Immigration Rules. These proposed changes to the Immigration Rules will be laid before parliament on 15th March 2012 and, if passed, will come into effect on 6th April 2012.

As previously confirmed, Tier 1 (Post Study Work) will be closing on 5th April 2012.

There are two options open to Tier 4 students who are finishing their studies and want to work in the UK; Tier 2 (General) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).

Tier 2 (General)

Recent graduates with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD, PGCE or PGDE will be able to switch into Tier 2. Most Tier 2 requirements (relating to minimum pay, for example) will apply, however the employer will not need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test. Students will need an unrestricted Certificate of Sponsorship to switch to Tier 2, which means that the number of students applying for Tier 2 in this way will not be limited.

To clarify, only those students who have completed their course of study will be able to switch into Tier 2 from within the UK. If a student does not complete their course of study they would need to make their Tier 2 application from outside the UK. This means that they would require a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (i.e. one that falls within the annual limit) and in turn, their potential employer would need to complete a Resident Labour Market Test.

Students who do not finish their course of study in the UK will therefore not benefit, in immigration terms, from having studied in the UK.

The only exception to the requirement to complete a course before switching into Tier 2 will be for PhD students, who will be able to switch from within the UK after completing at least 12 months of study.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

This new route will be open to recent graduates with an entrepreneurial idea but who are not yet able to meet the requirements for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).

Unlike other Tier 1 routes, Graduate Entrepreneurs will need to be sponsored by their Higher Education Institution (HEI). The HEI must have registered their intent to sponsor graduates with the UKBA. Details of deadlines will be published shortly, but to be eligible the HEI must be Highly Trusted under Tier 4 and A Rated for Tier 2.An allocation of 1000 spaces will be shared between all interested HEIs.

Applicants will be issued twelve months’ leave initially, which could be extended for a further twelve months. At the end of the two years individuals would need to switch into either Tier 2 or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). A lower fund threshold of £50,000 will be introduced for those applicants switching from Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).

We will publish further information on the new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route as it becomes available.