Government outlines visa reforms for workers

Today, 16 February 2011 the Government issued details of some of the reforms it intends to bring to the visa system from 6 April 2011. The changes will impact non-EU migration into the United Kingdom. Parliament is yet to approve the proposals.

Employers wishing to bring workers from outside of the EU will need to apply to the UK Border Agency for a certificate of sponsorship detailing the specific post they want to fill. This is a change from the current system where businesses are given a numerical annual allocation which they can fill. The jobs an employer wants to fill will also need to be a graduate level job, which can only be filled by applicants who demonstrate proficiency in the English language at intermediate level.

Vacancies attracting salaries of £150,000 of more will be exempt from the new scheme.

The inter-company transfer route which will not be limited by a cap will also be amended in three ways:
The job will need to be on the graduate occupation list,
Applicants undertaking jobs paying £40,000 per year on the ICT scheme will be given 3 years leave to enter with the possibility of a further 2 years extension. 
Post offering salaries between £24,000 and £40,000 per year will only be eligible for leave up to 12 months with no in-country extension option. Applicants in this category will need to leave the UK for 12 months before being able to apply again.

Finally the government announced some changes to the qualifying criteria for settlement (ILR). These changes will affect applicants from Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 (General) and work permit holders. The changes are threefold.


Applicants will now need to confirm their levels of earning, which must be at least at the same level as when they were granted their leave. The Government states that this is to ensure the applicant has remained in skilled or highly skilled work before they are granted settlement.

English language requirement

Applicants will now need to demonstrate that they have knowledge of language and life in the UK. This is normally satisfied by passing a test. Applicants will not be able to rely on taking  English for Speakers of Foreign Language (ESOL) course with citizenship as they have previously. Dependants remain unaffected by this change.


All applicants (except refugees) applying for settlement must be free from unspent convictions. Those with unspent convictions will not be able to qualify for ILR and must leave the UK if they have no other basis to be in the country.

Posted on Feb 15, 2011.

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