The government has published changes to the Immigration Rules which ministers said will ensure the UK remains the destination of choice for exceptional overseas talent.
Under the new rules, migrant workers entering the UK as Intra-Company Transfers – who are currently able to stay in the UK for five years – will now be able to stay for nine years if they earn £150,000 or more.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “The UK is open for business to the brightest and best migrants,” adding that the new “changes will ensure we remain an attractive destination for global talent.”
“The government remains committed to supporting a private sector-led economic recovery,” Mr. Harper said. “At the same time we continue to cut out abuse of the immigration system and remain focused on bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.”
Other changes will allow skilled workers the flexibility to travel in and out of the country as part of their job, without it counting against them when it comes to applying for settlement in the UK.
From December migrants can be absent from the UK for up 180 days per year without it affecting their application to stay permanently in the UK, provided the absence is for a legitimate reason.
There will also be a slight amendment to the 12 month 'cooling off' period, introduced earlier this year for skilled workers. Previously a skilled worker who had worked in the UK could not return to take up another job offer for 12 months from the end date of their visa, even if they left the UK before their visa expired. This meant a small number of migrants had to wait longer than 12 months before re-entering the UK.
From mid-December the 12 months will be counted from the day a worker leaves the UK, regardless of when their visa is due to expire, providing they can show when they left the UK and that they have not returned to work here since.
Under the new rules, entrepreneurs will no longer have to display a higher level of English than those migrants entering the UK via other routes.