UK: Highly skilled migrants from India start Tier 1

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The United Kingdom's new points based immigration system started off with the implementation of Tier 1 for General Highly Skilled Migrants (GHSM) in 29 February 2008 for non-European Union migrants already in the UK. As of 01 April 2008, the new Tier 1 GHSM rules started for people applying from India.

Indian nationals are one of the largest groups of foreign citizens to receive highly skilled migrant visas to Britain. Many software engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and medical professionals from India take advantage of the UK's highly skilled migrant immigration scheme. This is mainly because there is no requirement for a previous job offer.

The new five tier immigration system assesses migrants based on various criteria specific to each category. In the case of Tier 1 for General Highly Skilled Migrants, applicants are scored based on their age, past earnings, education, and UK work and/or study experience. English language proficiency and the ability to support oneself and family play a very important part, as well.

The new GHSM rules will eventually replace the previous Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) completely. The HSMP is still in effect for applicants from outside the UK and India until sometime "later this year", according to the UK Border Agency.

The new GHSM rules are largely the same as the HSMP; however, English language requirements are more stringent. In addition, the introduction of the new Maintenance requirement, which states that an applicant must have had at least GBP 800 in their bank account at all times for at least three months leading up to the application process, has some people wondering if they shouldn't apply under the HSMP while they still have time.

For those in India and the UK, the future is now.