Major immigration changes now in place

23 Apr 14

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – HIGH

The United Kingdom has now implemented several changes to its immigration rules, including the following:

Tier 1

  • Tech City U.K. has been added as a new designated competent body appointed by the Home Office to assess applications of migrants wishing to enter the country under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route. The category was expanded to include the digital-technology sector, effective April 6.
  • Applications for Tier 1 (General) visa extensions can only be lodged until April 6, 2015. After that date, no more Tier 1 (General) visa extensions will be processed.
  • Applications for permanent residence by Tier 1 (General) visa holders must be lodged by April 6, 2018.

Tier 2

  • Beginning July 1, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) (ICTs) and Tier 2 (General) applicants can apply for a five-year term, an increase from the current three-year maximum. Employers must pay a higher fee for the longer duration visa. However, employers that know from the outset that they require a full five-year term will not need to apply for an extension after three years.
  • Annual salaries for five-year Certificates of Sponsorship must meet whichever is the higher of:
    • the experienced salary rate set by the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code for the particular role (not the new entrant salary rate); or
    • the minimum threshold set by the Tier 2 category (see below).
  • Tier 2 minimum salary rates as set out in the SOC codes have generally been increased by 0.9 percent in line with inflation. However, some SOC codes have gone up more significantly and some, including the IT occupation, have gone down.
  • The government has increased the minimum thresholds for each Tier 2 category, in addition to the salary rates for individual occupations:
    • £20,500 for Tier 2 (General)
    • £24,500 for Tier 2 (ICT) Short Term Staff
    • £41,000 for Tier 2 (ICT) Long Term Staff

In addition, the maintenance-fund thresholds for Points-Based System migrants and their dependents will increase for applications submitted July 1 and later.

Visit visas

Starting on May 5, the U.K. will require visit visas for all Venezuelan nationals traveling to the U.K. Existing visa requirements for work, study, and family migration will remain the same.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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