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UK - Judicial review requested for HSMP holders

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On 05 March 2008, a United Kingdom High Court was told that changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) in late 2006 were unfair and could possibly result in 44,000 people being forced to leave theUK.

The changes, implemented in November 2006, required migrants who had already entered the UK under the system to score points again -- based on the new rules -- when it came time to renew their HSMP visas. Previously, migrants were only required to show proof of economic activity to get an extension.

The HSMP Forum, a non-profit advocacy group for HSMP holders, filed for the judicial review and were represented by Barrister Michael Fordham, QC.

"The goalposts have been moved for those previously admitted. If they do not have a particular qualification or level of earnings they are required to leave," Fordham said.

Robert Jay, QC representing the UK, said that the government acted within its powers and a judicial review should not take place.

The judge in the case, Sir George Newman, said he would give his decision at a later date. The HSMP Forum said they were hopeful that a decision would be reached during March, and expect the decision to be in their favor.

The HSMP, a points based system that assesses applicants based on criteria such as age, previous earnings, and education, is being phased out in favor of the UK's new five-tier points based system. Migrants already in the UK on an HSMP visa are required to extend their leave to remain under the new Tier 1 rules for General Highly Skilled Migrants.

The new rules will go into effect for people outside the UK -- starting in April for applicants from India and summer 2008 for the rest of the world.