Skilled temporary workers will be required to earn at least £35,000 in order to qualify for settlement in the UK, Home Office has said.
Under the proposed changes to the immigration system which will enter into force in April 2016, 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.
The Home Office holds that the new minimum pay threshold will mean that only the brightest and best workers, who strengthen the UK economy, will be able to apply to stay in the UK permanently.
Exceptionally talented people, investors and entrepreneurs will continue to have the option to stay.
Migrants doing jobs which are in shortage, and scientists and researchers in PhD-level roles, will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold.
Temporary permission to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at six years, to reinforce the temporary nature of Tier 2.
“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,” Immigration Minister Damian Green said. “Our reforms of the immigration system will ensure we are more selective not only about those who are allowed to come here but also those who are allowed to stay permanently.”
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.
The government also plans to retain a route for overseas domestic workers in private households, but only when accompanying a visitor and limited to six months' stay with no right to change employer.
The current route of entry for private servants in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker – International agreement), will be retained, with a maximum stay of five 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 one month without formal sponsorship requirements.