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Annual limit for Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa applications


24 November 2010

The Home Secretary announced on 23 November 2010 a number of changes to immigration policy in respect of Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, designed to deliver the government's commitment to place a limit on non-EU economic migration to the UK.

Further details of these changes will be published before they are implemented in April 2011.

The changes announced yesterday are set out below.

Tier 1

The Tier 1 (General) route will be closed.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be reformed to make it more attractive. We will introduce flexibilities and create a new avenue for promising start-up companies which do not meet our investment threshold.

The Tier 1 (Investor) route will also be reformed to offer an accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) routes will not be subject to a limit on numbers.

A Tier 1 route for persons of exceptional talent will be introduced. This will cover migrants who have won international recognition in scientific and cultural fields, or who show sufficient exceptional promise to be awarded such recognition in the future. Applications by those with exceptional promise will be endorsed by a competent body in the relevant field. The 'exceptional talent' category will be subject to a limit of 1,000 places. Tier 2 will continue to be open to migrants working in these fields.

Further details will be published as soon as possible.

Tier 2

The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to a limit of 20,700 places for 2011/12.

This limit will not apply to:

  • in-country applications from those already in the UK;
  • dependants of Tier 2 migrants;
  • Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000;
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants;
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants; and
  • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants.

Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants in the Established staff sub-category will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.

The current rules will continue to apply to Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) migrants in the Graduate trainee and Skills transfer sub-categories.

Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies. The Migration Advisory Committee will advise us on what are to be considered graduate-level jobs, and we will amend the shortage occupation list accordingly. Existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.

The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 (General) applications will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).

Applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to:

  1. shortage occupations in the first instance;
  2. whether the post requires higher academic qualifications; and
  3. salary.

Potential workers who are granted a certificate of sponsorship will have 3 months in which to apply for a visa.

Settlement

From April 2011:

  • There will be a new criminality threshold, requiring all applicants applying for settlement to be clear of unspent convictions.
  • Skilled and highly skilled migrants will need to meet the income criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay.
  • Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the 'Life in the UK' test prior to gaining settlement.

For those entering in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the points-based system after April 2011:

  • We will stop our current policy of granting further leave to remain to those who fail the Knowlege of Life requirement.
  • We will cap Tier 2 (intra company transfer) route at five years.

Revised on 9 December 2010