Migrants in jobs where there is a domestic skills shortage, scientists and researchers have been exempted from the £35,000 threshold. The time migrant workers on temporary work visas can stay is also being capped at six years to prevent temporary work routes being abused.
This was made public as Immigration Minister Damian Green announced new settlement rules to break the link between migrants coming here to work and staying forever. The Government is claiming that tougher rules for migrant workers on temporary work visas will mean only the brightest and best can apply to settle in the UK.
The Home Office said: `The amount of time they can stay will now be capped at six years to prevent temporary work routes being abused.
Green said: ‘Settlement in the UK is a privilege. We are sweeping aside the idea that everyone who comes here to work can settle and instead reserving this important right only for the brightest and best.’
Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay, while skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher.
Migrants doing jobs where there is a domestic skills shortage, as well as scientists and researchers in PhD level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold.
The development is significant, as the employers and business groups have time and again issued warnings that immigration cap could put off talented individuals. Liberal Democrat too has been claiming the Government’s controversial cap on immigration would harm the economy.
Going into the background of the issue, the UK Border Agency said: As part of the government’s commitment to reviewing the immigration system, last summer a consultation was launched proposing reforms to employment-related settlement, Tier 5 and overseas domestic worker routes.
`Immigration Minister Damian Green has today announced the government’s response to this consultation. The proposed changes will mean that skilled migrant workers coming to the UK under Tier 2 of the points-based system will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK….
`Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay. Skilled temporary workers wanting to apply for settlement will have to earn at least £35,000 or the going rate for their job, whichever is higher….’
The UKBA added: `The government intends to continue to provide a direct route to settlement for investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented migrants under Tier 1.
It also intends to `continue to provide a route to settlement for the best Tier 2 migrants, if they meet a minimum salary threshold of £35,000; and allow those who enter as PhD-level scientists and researchers to qualify for settlement without having to meet the £35,000 minimum salary threshold’.
The government intends to `make all workers in shortage occupation jobs (currently including specialist nurses, teachers and social workers) exempt from the minimum settlement salary threshold of £35,000’.
It also intends to `allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their temporary permission to stay in the UK up to maximum of 6 years, and introduce a 12-month ‘cooling off’ period; retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to 6 months’ stay with no right to change employer.
The intention is also to retain the current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), with a maximum stay of 5 years and no ability to change employer or to settle’.
The government also plans to make changes to the visitor rules to allow a defined group of professionals to undertake specific fee-paid activities for short stays of up to 1 month without formal sponsorship requirements.
The UKBA concluded: `The government is reforming all routes of entry to the UK in order to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands.
`It has already taken action to reduce numbers by restricting the number of migrants from outside the European Union who can come here to work, and introducing changes to the student visa system. The changes announced today will bring greater control over who is able to settle in the UK.