As has now become standard, the Home Office has announced a range of changes to the Immigration Rules, to take effect in April and July 2014. You will find a summary of these proposed changes below. Unless otherwise stated, all changes are valid from the 6th April 2014.
The Tier 1 (General) scheme has been closed to new entrants since April 2011, but those individuals who hold such a visa are currently allowed to extend within the Tier 1 (General) scheme. From 6th April 2015 the Home Office will no longer accept applications to extend Tier 1 (General) visas, and from 6th April 2018, no further applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Tier 1 (General) visa holder will be accepted. This is unlikely to affect many people in practice, as even those who applied for a Tier 1 (General) visa just before the scheme closed in 2011 should be able to qualify for ILR by the middle of 2016.
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) scheme will have a new designated competent body (Tech City UK) to endorse applicants in the field of digital technology. The overall limit of 1,000 places for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) will remain in place. Applicants will be able to apply from any country, and will be able to switch from any other Tier 1 route when in the UK. Applicants will also be able to make extension applications from overseas. Time spent in other Tier 1 and 2 routes can now be counted towards the five year qualifying period for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders switching from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa can now rely on investments made over the past 24 months preceding the application date. Third party declarations will no longer be needed where funds are held in a joint account with the applicant’s spouse or partner.
Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders may be allowed a delay in investing their specified funds beyond 3 months where there is an exceptionally compelling reason for the delay.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa holders no longer need to have obtained their degrees in the last 12 months or from a particular institution.
It will now be possible for Tier 2 (General) & Tier 2 (ICT) migrants to apply for up to 5 years’ leave at a time. The Home Office fee for a visa in excess of 3 years will now cost double the fee for a visa up to three years in length. The Home Office fee for assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship will remain the same regardless of the length of the visa.
The Home Office has updated the SOC codes and has adjusted the minimum salaries. The majority of these thresholds have gone up slightly although some have fallen. You can find the SOC codes here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/303033/CoP_-_Apr_14_V0_6.pdf.
The salary thresholds across Tier 2 have been increased in line with inflation, as follows:
|Category||Criteria||Current Threshold||New Threshold|
|Tier 2 (General)||Jobs which qualify for Tier 2 (General)||£20,300||£20,500|
|Tier 2 (General)||Jobs exempt from UJM||£71,000||£71,600|
|Tier 2 (General)||Jobs exempt from RLMT and annual limit||£152,000||£153,500|
|Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)||Jobs which qualify for Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer or Graduate trainee||£24,300||£24,500|
|Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)||Jobs which qualify for Long Term staff||£40,600||£41,000|
|Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)||Jobs which qualify for transfers of up to 9 years||£152,100||£153,500|
|Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson)||Earnings which qualify for settlement (PHD level or shortage occupation are exempt)||£35,500 (ILR from 6th April 2018||£35,800 (ILR from 6th April 2019)|
From the 1st July 2014 the maintenance amounts will be increased across all parts of the Points Based System as follows:
|Category||Existing Level||New Level|
|Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)||£3,100 (EC) £900 (LTR)||£3,310 (EC)
|Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)||£1,800 (EC) £900 LTR||£,1890 (EC) £945 (LTR)|
|Tier 1 (General), Tier 2, Tier 5 (Temporary Worker)||£900||£945|
|Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)||£1,800||£1,890|
|Dependants of Tier 1 (excluding Graduate Entrepreneur)||£1,800 (where the main applicant has been in the UK <12 months) or
|£1,890 (where the main applicant has been in the UK <12 months) or
|Dependants of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)||£1,200 (where the main applicant has been in the UK <12 months) or
|£1,260 (where the main applicant has been in the UK <12 months) or
|All other PBS dependants (excluding Tier 4)||£600||£630|
Maintenance requirements for Tier 4 applicants and their dependants are complex and depend on a number of criteria. Please contact us for a full assessment.
If you have any concerns about how these changes might affect you, your company or your employees, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a free initial assessment.