Automatic settlement for skilled workers to end

The Immigration Minister announced today an end to ‘automatic settlement’ for skilled workers. In order to qualify for settlement Tier 2 General workers will need a minimum annual salary of £35,000 and be paid the ‘going rate’ according to the UKBA Codes of Practice. The £35,000 threshold will remain at that level until April 2018. Those Tier 2 migrants working in a shortage occupation, in designated PhD level jobs and ministers of religion will be exempt from the £35,000 threshold.

The new rules will apply to those Tier 2 General applicants whose initial Tier 2 leave was granted under the rules in place from 6th April 2011. It will therefore only have practical effect for those applying for settlement from 6th April 2016.

Leave to enter and remain in the UK will be capped at 6 years for those Tier 2 General, Minister of Religion and Sportsperson migrants ineligible for indefinite leave to remain. These new rules will not affect Tier 1 investor, entrepreneur and exceptionally talented migrants. Those Tier 2 migrants who do not qualify for settlement will be required to leave the UK and wait 12 months before applying to re-enter in a Tier 2 category.

Other new rules have been announced to come into effect from 6th April 2012.

A new visitor category will be introduced to allow those on ‘permitted paid engagements’, i.e. specific short-term fee-paid activities of no longer than a month, to come to the UK without requiring sponsorship under the Points-Based System as they currently do.

There are also changes announced for overseas domestic workers. Those in private households will no longer be able to accompany their employer to the UK, unless the employer is coming to the UK as a visitor. The domestic worker will therefore be limited to a maximum stay of 6 months and cannot switch into another immigration category in the UK, change employer or bring dependants.

Those overseas domestic workers in diplomatic households under Tier 5 (Temporary worker - International agreement) will no longer be able to apply for settlement and their stay will be limited to a maximum of five years. They will not be permitted to change employers, switch into another immigration category in the UK. They will continue to be permitted to bring dependants.

The Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange category will have a maximum stay of 12 months (currently 24 months). New categories within the Tier 5 International Agreement route will be created to reflect international commitments, where leave will be limited to a maximum of 6 months. Other categories within the Tier 5 International Agreement route will continue to have a maximum stay of 24 months.

Posted on Feb 28, 2012.

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