Note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest UK immigration rules as of 01 April 2008, when applications for immigrating to the UK as a highly skilled migrant became subject to the new Tier 1 (General) Rules.
One important aspect of the new Tier 1 rules for General Highly Skilled Migrants is Maintenance: the funds a migrant is required to show for an initial application as well as an application for extension to be successful. For some people, applying for the Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP) may be a better option, if they still can.
In the Statement of Intent released by the Border and Immigration Agency in December, it was stated that migrants extending their leave to remain in the same category would not have to score points for Maintenance again under the rules for the General Highly Skilled Migrants sub-category of Tier 1. However the new guidance released by the government on 29 February state that all applicants, including initial applicants and those extending their leave to remain as a Tier 1 (General) Migrant, will be required to satisfy the Maintenance requirement.
Under the Maintenance requirement, applicants from within the UK are required to show 800 GBP in personal savings at all times during a three month period immediately prior to the application. The balance must not go below 800 GBP at any time during this period.
For applicants from India, the required funds are 2800 GBP, with the same three-month requirement outlined above.
Evidence showing this information can take the form of original bank statements on official letter-headed paper or stationary of the organization, and bearing the official stamp of that organization. The statements must show the applicant's name, account number, date of the statement, the bank's name and logo, and transactions covering the three month period.
It can also take the form of an official letter from the bank, stating the applicant's name, account number, date, financial institution's name and logo. It also must contain information stating the funds currently in the applicant's account, and that the required funds have been in the bank for at least 3 months, having never gone below 800 GBP for applications made in the UK, and 2800 GBP for applications made in India. It is important that this information is explicitly stated in the letter.
There are some differences between the old Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) rules and the new Tier 1 for General Highly Skilled Migrant rules, but for the most part, points requirements for age, past earnings, qualifications, and UK experience have not changed. However, for the first time, the government has stated a particular sum that migrants need to support themselves during their stay in the UK.
Unlike the Previous Earnings requirement, which allows people to score points based on previous earnings made during a consecutive 12 month period prior to their application, the Maintenance requirement amount does not take into account an applicant's previous country of residence.
For example, a migrant who comes from Afghanistan (when the Tier 1 rules take effect) would have his Previous Earnings in UK currency multiplied by 11.4 before having their points assessed under the new Tier 1 rules. However, assuming that the rules for the rest of the world remain the same as those for applications from India, the Maintenance requirement of 2800 GBP remains the same for both an applicant from Afghanistan and an applicant from Australia.
This issue is compounded if the migrant wishes to bring family to the UK. For those applying for entry as dependants of a Tier 1 (General) Migrant who has been in the UK for less than 12 months, an additional 1600 GBP will be required for each dependant -- for the same three-month period outlined above. If the Tier 1 (General) Migrant has been in the UK for 12 months or more, they will be required to show GBP 533 for each dependant, for the same three-month period.
As the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) has no detailed requirement for a certain amount of funds available to the applicant, it may be beneficial for many people to apply for the HSMP before it is replaced by Tier 1. For applicants based in India, HSMP is available until 31 March, after which the new Tier 1 rules come into effect. For the rest of the world, the new Tier 1 rules will be phased in sometime in summer 2008.