Let’s re-cap: a breakdown of major changes to the UK Immigration Law

An update of the major changes to take effect in April 2011

13 January 2011. With changes in UK Immigration law occurring so frequently, it can be difficult to keep up to date. Major changes are expected in the immigration system this year and this article will discuss some of the reforms in the immigration system so far proposed. Changes to Tier 1 & 2 of the points based system

The Home Secretary announced on 23 November 2010 a number of changes to immigration policy in respect of Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, designed to deliver the government's commitment to place a limit on non-EU economic migration to the UK.

These changes will be implemented in April 2011.

The changes announced are:

Tier 1: Highly skilled workers, investors, entrepreneurs and recent graduates from UK universities

• The Tier 1 (General) route will be closed.

• The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be reformed to make it more attractive by introducing flexibilities and create a new avenue for promising start-up companies which do not meet our investment threshold.

• The Tier 1 (Investor) route will also be reformed to offer an accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment.

• The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) routes will not be subject to a limit on numbers.

A Tier 1 route for persons of exceptional talent will be introduced. This will cover migrants who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show sufficient exceptional promise to be awarded such recognition in the future. A. The 'exceptional talent' category will be subject to a limit of 1,000 places.

Tier 2: Sponsored skilled workers

• The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to a cap on numbers. The quota limit for Tier 2 (General) route will be 20,700 for 2011/12.

This limit will not apply to:

– in-country applications from those already in the UK;

– dependants of Tier 2 migrants;

– Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000;

– Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants;

– Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants; and

– Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants.

Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants in the Established staff sub-category will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.

Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies. Existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.

• The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 (General) applications will be increased from basic to intermediate (level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).

Applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to:

1. shortage occupations in the first instance;
2. whether the post requires higher academic qualifications; and
3. salary.

Potential workers who are granted a certificate of sponsorship will have 3 months in which to apply for a visa.

Changes to Settlement Rules

After you have lived legally in the UK under the same visa category for a continuous length of time (normally 5 years) and if that category is eligible for settlement, you can apply for permission to live here indefinitely. A permanent resident visa is also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) is the permission to live permanently (settle) in the United Kingdom, free from immigration related restrictions. There are no time limits to permanent residence and no restrictions in terms of employment or business you can undertake here.

From April 2011:

• There will be a new criminality threshold, requiring all applicants applying for settlement to be clear of unspent convictions.

• Skilled and highly skilled migrants will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay.

• Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the 'Life in the UK' test prior to gaining settlement.

English language requirement for settlement applications

From 29 November 2010, any non-European migrant who wants to enter or remain in the UK as the partner of a British citizen or a person settled here will need to show that they can speak and understand English, which allows them to cope with everyday life in the UK, by taking an English language test which must meet or exceed level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The test must be provided by a UKBA-approved English test provider.

An applicant will need to meet the requirement if they are:

• a national of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland; and

• in a relationship with a British citizen or a person settled here; and

• applying as that person’s husband, wife, civil partner, fiance(e), proposed civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner.

The new English requirement does not apply to the following groups of applicants:

• spouse or partner of Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applicants
• spouse or partner of a student
• visitors
• refugees or spouses of refugees applying on the basis of family reunion
• dependent children
• spouse or partner of an EEA national
• spouse or partner of a member of the armed forces applying under Part 7 of the Immigration Rules
• applicants for indefinite leave to remain

If an applicant has a bachelor’s degree qualification taught in English, then the applicant will have met the language requirement and will not need to undertake any further tests.

An applicant is deemed to meet the language requirement, and thus does not need to take the test, if they are a national of a majority English-speaking country, that is:Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Canada; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; New Zealand; St Kitts and Nevis; St Lucia; St Vincent and the Grenadines; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.

13 January 2011
Raheela Hussain
Senior Immigration Solicitor
Greenfields Solicitors
Tel: 020 8884 1166



Related articles:

How to enter the UK under Tier 1 (General), highly-skilled migrant route

Three ways to meet the English language requirement

From 29 November, spouses and partners to show they can speak, understand English

English language requirement for migrant partners now on video



Disclaimer: The above article is meant to be relied upon as an informative article and in no way constitutes legal advice. Information is offered for general information purposes only, based on the current law when the information was first displayed on this website.

You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry. For legal advice regarding your case, please contact Greenfields Solicitors for a Consultation with a Solicitor on 020 8884 1166.



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