The United Kingdom is gradually phasing in Tier 1 of its new five-tier points based immigration program that will encompass all employment, training, and student based immigration routes into the country. The first part of the new points based system to take effect is Tier 1 for General Highly Skilled Migrants, which is replacing the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP).
As of 29 February 2008, migrants already in the UK who wish to extend their HSMP will be required to come under the new Tier 1 (General) rules. On 1 April 2008, people applying from India will be required to apply under the new rules as well, followed by the rest of the world sometime during the summer of 2008.
Because of this, there will be many people who have applied for entry or extension under the HSMP and received their approval letter, but have yet to have their application for entry clearance or leave to remain decided upon before the new rules take effect.
The UK has put in place transitional measures to take into account these cases. The following arrangements apply for people that fall under these circumstances:
- Migrants who apply with a valid HSMP approval letter will be charged a reduced Tier 1 (General) fee for their application. The normal fee for a Tier 1 (General) application is GBP 750. For individuals who already have an HSMP approval letter, the cost for a Tier 1(General) application is GBP 350.
- The 75 points awarded under the attributes section (age, past earnings, etc) will be automatically awarded on thier Tier 1 (General) application
- The English language requirement on the Tier 1 (General) application will be waived
An important note: the maintenance section of Tier 1 (General), which requires a migrant to have GBP 800 in their possession at all times for the previous three months leading up to their application, will still apply. The GBP 800 does not include family members who will accompany the prospective migrant to the UK.
For individuals applying from India, there is less than two weeks left before Tier 1 starts and thus probably not enough time to avoid the maintenance requirement if they apply under the current HSMP rules.
For the rest of the world who have enough time to have entry clearance granted, applying now may be beneficial.