UNITED KINGDOM - No More Settlement for "Temporary Visa" Holders
The Immigration Minister for the UK, Damian Green, has announced plans for further restrictive changes to the UK’s immigration system. The plans focus on reducing employment based routes to settlement (i.e. permanent residency) in the UK. A public consultation will be run for three months, inviting responses to the proposals.
What Are The Planned Changes?
The key proposals are as follows:
- Re-branding all Tier 2 categories as “temporary” (i.e. do not lead to settlement);
- Allowing certain categories of Tier 2 migrant, for example those earning over £150,000 or occupations of a specific economic or social value to the UK, to retain an automatic route to settlement;
- Creating a new category into which, after three years in the UK, the most exceptional Tier 2 migrants may switch and go on to apply for settlement;
- Allowing Tier 2 migrants who do not switch into a settlement route to stay for a maximum of five years with the expectation that they and any dependants will leave at the end of that time;
- Introducing an English language requirement for adult dependants of Tier 2 migrants applying to switch into a route to settlement;
- Restricting the maximum period of leave for Tier 5 Temporary Workers to 12 months; and
- Closing or reforming routes for overseas domestic workers.
The proposed changes come after a series of significant alterations to the UK immigration system in the last several months, aimed at restricting UK immigration so that only “the best and brightest” are permitted to reside and work in the UK. Since April 2010, Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) has not led to settlement in the UK. Other changes since the election of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in 11 May 2010 have included:
- Closing down Tier 1 (General) completely
- Restricting Tier 2 to specific, graduate level occupations only
- Placing the UK’s first quota (of 20,700 places per year) on Tier 2 (General) – the route used for * employer sponsored workers who do not qualify as intra company transferees
- Introducing minimum salary levels for Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer)
- Limiting maximum duration of stay for Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) to 12 months where salary is between £24K and £40K/annum and 5 years where salary is over £40K/annum
- Applicants for settlement must now pass the “Life in the UK” test (i.e. an ESOL with citizenship course is no longer acceptable)
It is important to note that the proposed changes are just proposals at this stage. Interested parties should respond to the public consultation, which can be found here. The full ministerial statement on the changes can be found here.
- If you have an opinion on the proposed changes, respond to the UK government’s public consultation at the link above.