UK Immigration Changes The UK Border Agency ("UKBA") recently announced changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 of the Points Based System ("PBS"), some of which will come into effect on Monday 19th July 2010. These developments are part of the recently announced Government consultation on the imposition of limits on non-EU migration to the UK. The consultation opened on June 28th and closes on September 17th 2010.The stated intention of the consultation is to reduce levels of migration to the UK to those of the 1990's. It asks 2 major questions: firstly, how should limits be introduced and implemented and through what means?; and, secondly at what level should the limits be set taking into account the overall immigration policy and how can a balance be arrived at between the economic, social and public service impacts of migration? The Government intends to make announcements as to further changes following the consultation by the end of the year. The interim measures: Tier 1 (Highly Skilled Workers) • From July 19th, an applicant under Tier 1 must attain 100 points - 80 for personal attributes and 20 for English Language ability and maintenance (the new points threshold will not apply to existing applicants extending their leave or to those switching into Tier 1 from an authorised category from within the UK); • 80 points will now be available for previous earnings, and this allows applicants with very high previous earnings (£150,000 or more) to come to the UK under Tier 1, even if they have no formal Further Education qualifications; • The points threshold for MBA transitional applicants will be raised from 75 to 80 points; • Points may now be awarded for professional qualifications, if they are included on the Points Based Calculator. Such qualifications must first have been recommended for inclusion by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC); and • Quotas for Tier 1 (General) applications are to be introduced with effect from July 19th for all new applications being made at British Diplomatic Posts. The number of applications will be limited to the numbers issued for the same period in 2009. The limit, known as "grant allocation", will be directed by the UKBA within the UK. The Posts around the world will be advised when each month's quotas have been reached. Those applications which are not decided within any one particular month will be considered the following month when that quota opens. The number of Tier 1 (General) applications which are approved will be limited to the number of issued visas for the same period in 2009. Tier 2 (Skilled Workers with a Firm Offer of Employment) Changes will be made to both the General and Intra-Company Transfer categories. The key changes include: • A new Points Calculator, which will recalibrate the points allocation to include 30 points for Bachelor's Degrees; • A reduced points threshold for Intra-Company Transfers; • Higher thresholds for prospective earnings; • It should also be noted that with respect to Tier 2 (General) applications, there will be a 5% reduction on the number of issued visas for the equivalent 2009 period. The cap will not affect Intra-Company Transferees, Ministers of Religion, Sports persons or dependants, at least at the current time. The limit will be controlled by the number of Certificates of Sponsorship that an employer may issue; and • For changes in employment applications a new application need not be filed if the Migrant is remaining with the same employer but changing roles, and remains within the same Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). However, there are two exceptions to this: firstly, if the salary reduces below the level stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship, then a change in employment application will be required. A change of employment application will not be required for a salary increase. Additionally, if a Migrant changes position within the SOC code from a job currently on the shortage occupation list for one which is not, then a change of employment application will be required. Full details on the UKBA Consultation can be found at: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/aboutus/consultations/limits-on-non-eu-migration/ For further information on the upcoming changes please contact Tanya Goldfarb, Head of the Immigration Team on 0207 395 8496 or by email at tgoldfarb@clintons.co.uk
Article by Tanya Goldfarb