Further Changes Announced to UK Immigration Rules

by Morgan Lewis
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The changes will include longer visas for Tier 2, new minimum salary thresholds for Tier 2, and an increase in maintenance fund thresholds for Point-Based System migrants.

The UK Home Office has released a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, outlining further changes that will take place on 6 April 2014. Set out below are the main changes that will affect employers.[1]

Increasing Grants of Leave to Five Years for Tier 2 Migrants

The Immigration Rules will be amended to permit individuals applying for entry clearance or leave to remain under Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer—Long Term Staff) to apply for a maximum grant of leave of five years at their first application (the current maximum is three years). This longer grant of leave will be available for a higher application fee of £1,028 per person (including each family dependant) and should increase flexibility for applicants and sponsors.

Changes to Codes of Practice

The Home Office has confirmed updates to the minimum salary thresholds set out in the codes of practice for Tier 2 and 5 workers. The updates represent a 0.9% increase (rounded to the nearest £100).

Minimum Salary Thresholds

New Tier 2 minimum salary thresholds have been announced. The new minimum salary thresholds will apply to Certificates of Sponsorship assigned on or after 6 April 2014. If a sponsor has assigned an individual a Certificate of Sponsorship before 6 April, the application will be decided in accordance with the lower salary thresholds in force on 5 April 2014. The table below sets out the new minimum salary thresholds.

Category

Criteria

Current Threshold

New Threshold

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs that qualify for Tier 2 (General)

£20,300

£20,500

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs that are exempt from advertising in Universal Jobmatch (the new name for Job Centre Plus)

£71,000

£71,600

Tier 2 (General)

Jobs that are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test

£152,100

£153,500

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

Jobs that qualify for the Short Term Staff, Skills Transfer, or Graduate Trainee categories (maximum stay of either six months or one year)

£24,300

£24,500

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

Jobs that qualify for the Long Term Staff category (maximum stay of five years)

£40,600

£41,000

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer—Long Term Staff) and Tier 2 (General)

Jobs that qualify for transfers of up to nine years

£152,100

£153,500

Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

Earnings that qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) (those working in a Ph.D. level or shortage occupations are exempt)

£35,500 (for ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2018)

£35,800 (for ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2019)

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): Tech City Endorsement

The Home Office has confirmed that 200 endorsements will be allocated to Tech City UK to endorse applicants with exceptional talent in the field of digital technology. Once an individual has obtained an endorsement from Tech City UK, they will be able to submit an application for leave to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant.[2]

The Home Office expects to publish full guidance on 6 April 2014 for individuals applying for Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) on the basis of an endorsement by Tech City UK.

Maintenance

Starting 6 April 2014, the maintenance fund thresholds for Point-Based System migrants and their dependants will increase. The new thresholds will apply to both individuals providing evidence of their own funds or sponsors certifying maintenance for sponsored migrants. The full list of maintenance requirements can be found in the Statement of Changes; however, employers should note that maintenance for Tier 1 (General), Tier 2, and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) migrants will increase from £900 to £945 and from £600 to £630 for dependants.

Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

A new scheme is being created under the Government Authorised Exchange route for overseas government language placements. This category will enable language teachers to carry out teaching placements at UK institutions.

[1]. For information on other changes to the Immigration Rules, see our 11 March 2014 Immigration Alert, “Latest UK Immigration Law Developments”, available here.

[2]. For more information, see our 14 March 2014 Immigration Alert, “UK Home Office Announces New Technology Sector Visa Route”, available here.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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