On 12 December 2012, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced a number of changes to immigration policy. The main changes include:

  • easing documentary requirements for Chinese visitors, extending an express visa service and introducing a new passport pass-back scheme for visa applicants;
  • extending the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route by adding a further 1,000 places for foreign MBA graduates to allow them to stay in the UK to set up businesses. No date has been given as to when this will be introduced;
  • from April 2013, all PhD students who have completed their studies in the UK will be allowed to stay for 12 months after completing their PhD before having to set up a business or find a job;
  • more people applying for visas to study in the UK will be subject to face-to-face interviews with border staff. Ms May said that a pilot scheme of face-to-face interviews, which was set up last year to interview ‘high-risk student visa applicants’, had been successful and therefore would be extended. More than 100,000 people are expected to be interviewed from April 2013; and
  • the Government will work with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to extend the Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) scheme to the best overseas talent.

To view the speech in its entirety, please click here.