On April 6 2013 the UK Border Agency introduced new immigration rules. The categories of migrant affected by these changes include points-based system migrants, as well as foreign migrant spouses of British nationals. The new rules include the following changes to Tier 2 immigration:

  • Tier 2 migrants who leave the United Kingdom and whose leave thereafter expires are subject to a 12-month 'cooling off' period before they can return under Tier 2. In response to representations from businesses to remove the impact of this policy on their ability to recruit and transfer senior staff, the cooling-off period will no longer apply to Tier 2 migrants being sponsored in a job with an annual salary of £152,100 or more.
  • Intra-company transferees earning £152,100 a year or more will also be exempted from the requirement to prove their English-language ability when they extend their stay in the United Kingdom beyond three years.
  • To reduce administrative burdens for applicants and sponsoring employers, an amendment has been made to the requirement for intra-company transferees to provide 12 months' worth of payslips to prove that they have worked for their sponsoring employer's organisation for at least 12 months. The 12-month prior employment rule will continue to apply, but will need to be confirmed through the provision of payslips only where there is any doubt.
  • The post-study work provision for students graduating in the United Kingdom to switch into Tier 2 has also been amended. The former rules required such students to have existing valid leave, and to have graduated during a period of continuous leave which includes their existing grant of leave. These requirements now state that breaks in leave of up to 28 days are acceptable, in line with the policy on over-stayers that was laid before Parliament on June 13 2012 (HC 194). The changes also clarify that undergraduate master's degrees are eligible under the provisions, as well as postgraduate master's degrees.
  • To improve flexibility, the Border Agency 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 that 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 had been 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 the Resident Labour Market Test being required.

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.

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