Clarkslegal LLP - Solicitors in Reading and London

Legal Updates

Changes to the Immigration Rules come into force

07 April 2014 #Immigration

On 6 April 2014 a number of changes to the Immigration Rules came into force. Full details of the changes (including an explanatory note) can be found here.

So how will these changes impact on employers?

  • There have been changes to the Tier 2 (General) visa route, under which workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) can be sponsored by licenced employers (sponsors) to carry out a skilled job that cannot be filled by a settled worker.  Applicants can apply for a visa for up to 3 years and then extend this for another 3, and after 5 years in the UK can apply for settlement. Under the new rules, applicants can apply for a 5 year visa if they pay a higher fee, meaning they won’t need to apply and pay to extend their visa before they apply for settlement.   The same changes apply to the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visa category as well, under which employees working for an overseas group company can be sponsored and transferred to the UK. 
  • There have been changes to the minimum salary Tier 2 (General) and (ICT) migrants must earn to obtain their visas. The new rules have increased the minimum salary for a Tier 2 (General) visa from £20,300 to £20,500. Employees must still be paid the appropriate rate for their role (according to the SOC code guidance) and these rates have increased as well. Therefore, if you are about to sponsor an employee you need to check that their salary meets both the increased minimum threshold as well as the appropriate rate. 
  • Where a worker wishes to bring their family (dependants) over to the UK with them, they must ensure that there are appropriate funds available to support them.  The new rules increase the maintenance threshold for dependant visas from £600 to £630 from 1 July 2014. As above, employers will need to check that their employee’s dependants meet the new financial requirements before applying.

Also worth noting:

  • Applications to extend Tier 1 (General) visas (which allow skilled workers to come to the UK to look for work without the need for a sponsor) will be closed on 6 April 2015 and settlement applications will be closed on 6 April 2018, following on from the closure of this category to new applicants in 2011.
  • Where an individual is a world leader or potential world leader in the fields of science and the arts they may come to the UK under a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. The new rules have confirmed that this category will include talent in the digital technology sector endorsed by Tech City UK.

For employers looking to hire workers from outside the EEA it is worth checking the updated rules in order to avoid the risk of visa applications being refused on a technicality. For more information on the different categories of visa please visit our immigration section on Buddy. There is also guidance on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website (previously the UK Border Agency website).

Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Immigration matter please contact Clarkslegal's immigration team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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Immigration team
+44 (0)20 7539 8000