The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has today announced new Immigration Rules to be introduced on 6 April. The categories of migrants affected by these changes include points-based system migrants, as well as foreign migrant spouses of British nationals. Summarised below are the changes to Tier 2:

  • Tier 2 migrants who leave the UK and whose leave expires are subject to a 12 month “cooling off period” before they can return in Tier 2. A change is being made in response to representations from business, to remove the impact of this policy on businesses’ ability to recruit and transfer very senior staff. The change means that the “cooling off period” will no longer apply to Tier 2 migrants being sponsored in a job with a salary of £152,100 a year or more.
  • A further change means that Intra-Company Transferees earning £152,100 a year or more will also be exempted from the current requirement of having to prove their English language ability when they extend their stay in the UK beyond three years.
  • To reduce administrative burdens for applicants and sponsoring employers, a change is being made to the requirement for Intra-Company Transferees to provide 12 months’ of payslips to prove they have worked for their sponsoring employer’s organisation for 12 months. The 12 month prior employment rule will continue to apply but will only need to be confirmed through the provision of payslips where there is any doubt.
  • Changes are being made to the post-study work provision for students graduating in the UK to switch into Tier 2. The existing Rules require such students to still have existing valid leave, and to have graduated during a period of continuous leave which includes their current grant of leave. These requirements are being changed to state that breaks in leave of up to 28 days are acceptable, in line with the policy on overstayers established in HC 194 (laid before Parliament on 13 June 2012). The changes also clarify that undergraduate Masters degrees are eligible under the provisions as well as postgraduate Masters degrees.
  • To improve flexibility, the UKBA is adjusting the permitted changes to a Tier 2 migrant’s salary that may be made without requiring a fresh application. The changes now permit reductions in salary as well as increases, provided the salary does not fall below the appropriate rate for the occupation or any overall salary threshold which applies to the applicant. These changes apply in addition to the existing provisions for maternity, paternity or adoption leave, long-term sick leave, and company-wide reductions in pay to avoid redundancies.
  • A clarification is being made to confirm that Tier 2 (General) migrants may apply for extensions to continue working in the same occupation (not just the same job) with the same Sponsor, without a Resident Labour Market Test being required.

New SOC Codes and Job Descriptions

The UKBA has today published detailed job descriptions for each of the new SOC codes which will be introduced on 6 April. See the UKBA website for further details about the new codes and job descriptions.