The government has announced the results of their consultation in relation to changes to the settlement provisions assosicated with Tier 1 & Tier 2 visa categories. All changes listed below will come into effect from April 2012. The following will apply for all applicants under Tier 2 General, Sportspersons and Ministers of Religion.
- From 6 April 2016 anyone applying for settlement from Tier 2 who entered the UK after 6 April 2011 will need to demonstrate earnings of at least £35,000 per annum or higher (dependant on the going rate in line with the codes of practice published by the government);
- Occupations on the shortage list, those in PhD level jobs and Ministers of Religion will be exempt from the having to demonstrate £35,000 to qualify for settlement. However will still need to meet the appropriate rate as advertised on the codes of practice;
- The minimum income level of £35,000 will remain until 2018. The government will announce further thresholds for qualifying for settlement from 2018 next year;
- The maximum time permitted under this category will be capped at six years. If migrants do not apply for settlement after 5 years, then they would be expected to leave the UK after 6 years. Migrants who leave the UK after 6 years will not be able to return for at least 12 months on another visa in the same category – this is known as the “cooling off period”.
No further changes to the Tier 1 category. Tier 1 General, Entrepreneur and Investors will continue to qualify for settlement after 5 years, or extend where necessary.
A new visitor visa category will be introduced from April 2012 referred to as “permitted paid engagements”. This will enable some short term migrants to enter the UK in specific categories to carry out work on short assignments and receive a fee for the same. Such visitors will only be permitted to enter for a period of 1 month.
Overseas Domestic Workers
Overseas domestic workers in private households will only be allowed to accompany their employer as a visitor for period of 6 months. After this time, they will be expected to leave the UK. Dependants will not be able to qualify to enter and this route will no longer lead to settlement.
Those who entered the UK on a Tier 2 General visa prior to 6 April 2011 will not be required to meet the requirement of showing income of at least £35,000 per annum and will not be limited to a maximum period of six years stay in the UK. However the 12 months cooling off period will apply to all Tier 2 migrants regardless of when their previous leave was granted (i.e. affect everyone pre April 2011 and post April 2011).
Further changes in relation to settlement provisions for those applying to join/remain with their settled partners in the UK will be announced later in 2012.