02 March 2012 #Employment
The government has announced this week a number of developments to the immigration system. Please find a below a summary of their announcements.
Settlement pay threshold for Tier 2 migrants
The government intends to continue to provide a route to settlement (indefinite leave to remain) for Tier 2 migrant workers but only to those who meet a new minimum pay threshold.
In order to apply for settlement, Tier 2 general and sportsperson migrants must be paid at either the minimum settlement pay threshold of either £35,000 p.a. or the appropriate rate for their job as set out in the UK Border Agency’s Codes of Practice, whichever is higher.
Although this settlement pay threshold will not apply to everyone. Those in specified PhD level jobs or whose job is on the shortage occupation list (was on that list when the migrant was sponsored to do that job) will be exempt from the minimum £35,000 pay threshold, but they must still be paid the appropriate rate.
The threshold will only apply from April 2016. From April 2016 Tier 2 migrant workers applying for settlement will no longer be able to settle in the UK simply based on the amount of time they have spent in the UK, currently five continuous years.
New maximum grant of leave for Tier 2 migrants
The government intends to allow Tier 2 migrants to extend their leave in the UK for up to a maximum of six years. To prevent repeat grants of Tier 2 leave, after six years a 12 month cooling off period will be introduced. Migrants leaving the UK will not be able to re-apply for a Tier 2 visa until 12 months after their last leave as a Tier 2 migrant has expired.
MAC recommends no change in cap on skilled workers
This week the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended in their report, Limits for Tier 2 (General) for 2012/13 and Associated Policies, that the annual limit of 20,700 Tier 2 (General) migrants should remain unchanged for the next financial year.
The MAC stated that if the cap changed from the current limit of 20,700 it could make the UK less attractive to business and could lead to a decline in economic growth.
The annual cap applies to non-EEA migrants applying to work in the UK under Tier 2 (General) route of the points-based system. This limit has been heavily under-subscribed; between April 2011 and December 2011 only 45% of the available restricted certificates of sponsorships were allocated.
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