For employers of Tier 1 (General) Migrants, who cannot qualify for ILR, below are some options to consider:

Tier 2 (General) - an employer can sponsor an individual to work in the UK under Tier 2 (General). This allows for the individual to work in the UK for the sponsoring organisation subject to:

  • the role meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules;
  • the employer having a Tier 2 (General) sponsor licence; and
  • the role being one which cannot be filled by a resident worker, unless a limited exemption applies, eg the gross annual salary is at least £153,500.

This route may lead to ILR.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) - if the individual wishes, and can, invest (normally) £200,000 in a business, then the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) sub-category may be an option. However, a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant can work only in the business(es) which he or she has established/joined/taken over. This route may lead to ILR.

Tier 1 (Investor) - currently, by investing at least £1 million in the UK, an individual can apply for leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant. This route allows for flexibility as the only prohibited employment is: as a doctor or dentist in training; and as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach). This route may lead to ILR.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) - if the individual has a talent in a specific field of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology, or the arts, and the individual is endorsed by one of the chosen designated competent bodies, the individual could switch into this category to continue to work in this field in the UK. Additionally, this route can lead to ILR.

Family routes - if the individual has a family member, who is British or is an EEA national, he or she should consider the potential options to switch into a family category or to stay under EEA law. Additionally, if the individual is a Commonwealth citizen and has one grandparent who was born in the UK and Islands, an application for entry clearance to the UK under the UK Ancestry route may be an option. These aforementioned options can lead to ILR/permanent residency in the UK, provided the requirements in force at that time are met.

Lastly, for those who do not qualify to apply for leave in another category, but who wish to temporarily work in the UK, there are other options available if fresh applications are made from abroad, such as under the Tier 5 Temporary Migrant sub-categories.

It is recommended that employers review their current migrant workforce, identify those who are currently employed on a Tier 1 (General) visa, and put in place a strategy for the best way forward in order to ensure that they will either qualify for a further extension before 6 April 2015 or ILR before 6 April 2018, or that they will switch into a relevant category.