UK Government clarifies upcoming immigration changes

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The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has provided further details of the changes that will take place in April 2011 which include a permanent immigration cap on skilled immigration, a new exceptional talent visa, and new criteria for skilled workers with a job offer and intra-company transfers. There will in effect be significant changes in the rules for sponsoring non-EU workers. In addition the Tier 1 General skilled immigration visa will in effect end on 6 April 2011.

From 6 April 2011, there will an annual limit of 20,700 Tier 2 visas and 1,000 visas for the new 'exceptional talent' visa category. The exceptional talent visa will replace the popular Tier 1 (General) highly skilled immigration route.

The UKBA, has said that there will be 20,700 Tier 2 certificates of sponsorship available which will be divided into 12 monthly quotas of 1,500 places. Because of expected high demand when the permanent immigration cap is introduced in April 2011, the monthly allocation for April 2011 will be higher with 4,200 certificates of sponsorship.

"In the event that the monthly allocation is over subscribed, certificate of sponsorship applications will be ranked using a points system designed to favour jobs on the shortage occupation list, scientific researchers and those with a higher salary," the UKBA said in a statement.

"Once a certificate of sponsorship has then been granted to an employer it must be assigned to the prospective employee within 3 months," they added.

Currently, businesses have an annual allocation of certificates of sponsorship. Under the new rules, employers will have to apply for a certificate of sponsorship from the UKBA for a specific post.

Non-EU workers must meet new requirements to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa starting in April 2011. They must be working in a graduate level job in the UK, speak at intermediate level English, and meet certain salary and employment requirements.

The Tier 2 visa intra-company transfer route will also see some changes; Although the UK will not place a cap on the number of workers that can enter the UK though this scheme, applicants must be in an occupation on the graduate occupation list. If a worker is to stay in the UK beyond one year, he or she must be working in an occupation that pays more than £40,000 per year. For those earning more than £40,000 a year visas will be granted for three years with the possibility of extending the visa for another two years. For jobs that pay between £24,000 and £40,000, workers may only stay in the UK for one year; At the end of the first year they must leave the UK for at least 12 months before applying again for a Tier 2 visa.

If you are an employer wishing to hire a non-EU worker, can assist you in navigating these new rules. If you wish to benefit from the larger Tier 2 visa allocation in April 2011 you should make sure that you are a licenced sponsor as soon as possible. Please contact us at our London office for more details.

In addition, if you are a worker wishing to emigrate to the UK,'s Migration and Move service can help you make the move to to the UK. If you are interested, contact for more information.