Following the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations in 2011, the UK Border Agency has issued a statement of intent that largely follows the recommendations.

For Tier 2, the agency proposes to introduce a minimum salary threshold of £35,000 for settlement or permanent residence applications; this will apply to all Tier 2 (General) migrants who entered the United Kingdom or switched to the Tier 2 (General) category on or after April 6 2011. Sponsors will need to confirm in writing at the time of application that the migrant is being paid the salary stipulated on the certificate of sponsorship, which will need to be at least £35,000 or the minimum salary specified by the code of practice, whichever is higher. Migrants who hold a doctorate-level qualification or fulfil a shortage occupation role will be exempt from this requirement.

Further changes include introducing a maximum stay of six years from April 6 2012, after which time a migrant must either apply for settlement or leave the United Kingdom. Furthermore, a cooling-off period of 12 months is proposed for those who leave the United Kingdom, meaning that continuity of leave will be broken for the purposes of settlement. These proposed changes will not apply to Tier 1 category migrants.

A new graduate entrepreneurs route will be introduced, but time spent in this category will not count towards settlement.

The domestic worker category (in its current form) will close to all new applicants from April 6 2012. Thereafter, such migrants will be permitted to enter the United Kingdom only at the same time as their employer enters as a visitor. The maximum stay will be six months, with no extensions and no rights to settlement. It will no longer be possible to switch employer in the United Kingdom during this six-month period.

For further information on this topic please contact Ilda De Sousa at Kingsley Napley by telephone (+44 20 7814 1200), fax (+44 20 7490 2288) or email (idesousa@kingsleynapley.co.uk). The Kingsley Napley website can be accessed at www.kingsleynapley.co.uk.