The UKBA has announced its intention to break the link between those coming to work and those settling in the UK permanently by launching a 12 week consultation. The proposal also includes abolishing or reforming the overseas domestic worker visa category.

Key proposals under consideration include:

  • re-branding tier 2 (the skilled worker route) as temporary, ending the assumption that settlement will be available for those who enter on this route;
  • allowing certain categories of tier 2 migrant, for example those earning over £150,000 or occupations of a specific economic or social value to the UK, to retain route to settlement;
  • creating a new category in which, after three years in the UK, the most exceptional tier 2 migrants may switch and go on to apply for settlement;
  • allowing tier 2 migrants who do not switch into a settlement route to stay for a maximum of five years with the expectation that they and any dependants will leave at the end of that time;
  • introducing an English language requirement for adult dependants of tier 2 migrants applying to switch into a route to settlement;
  • restricting the maximum period of leave for tier 5 temporary workers to 12 months;
  • restricting the right to settlement for tier 1 exceptional talent migrants; and
  • closing or reforming routes for overseas domestic workers.

Immigration Minister Damian Green indicates that the category of overseas domestic worker does not sit well with the current immigration system and suggests that overseas domestic workers may be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Should this route be reformed, the UKBA intends to restrict the maximum length of visa to six or 12 months, which would allow domestic workers to accompany their employer for a short period only, preventing them from changing employer after arriving in the UK and removing the right to bring dependants. The UKBA is also considering whether to close the private households route altogether.

The public is invited to take part in the consultation which closes on 9 September 2011. For the official consultation page, please click here.