On 7 November 2006, Liam Byrne, Minister for Immigration, Nationality and Citizenship announced a change in the rules for the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). These changes have been effective from 8 November 2006. The new scheme has been operational since 5 December 2006.

Wragge & Co’s Business Immigration Team offers some practical hints and tips to help your organisation follow the new rules. Ensure you know the scheme and how points are scored. Applicants under the HSMP will now be assessed against new points criteria. Points will be awarded for academic qualifications, previous income, UK-gained experience or qualifications, and age. The overall points score required for approval has been increased from 65 to 75 points.

Don’t forget that all applicants will also be required to demonstrate that they are proficient in the English language. This is an absolute requirement and failure to provide tangible evidence of proficiency in the English language will result in the application being refused.

Remember the programme will no longer award points for previous work experience, significant achievements and partner’s skills. The GP Priority Provision category has also been removed. Consider applicants seeking to apply for an extension of their stay. They will now have to demonstrate that they meet the new criteria and provide evidence of their proficiency in the English language. The good news is that applicants who do not meet the new criteria will be given the opportunity to switch to a work