Today's announcement by UK Home Secretary Theresa May means that the Tier 1 (General) visa previously known as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme will in effect be abolished.
The new UK 'highly skilled' tier presumably to be introduced in April 2011 will allow entry of entrepreneurs, investors and small numbers of people of exceptional talent. The number of people allowed under the Tier 1 (General) visa (or it's replacement) scheme will be reduced from 13,000 to one thousand. It will continue to be the case that an unlimited number of visas can be issued under the Tier 1 entrepreneur and investor visa scheme; These schemes are only relevant for a very small number of people.
The current Highly Skilled immigration programme that allows entry of skilled migrants as long as they gain enough points under qualifications, previous earnings, age, etc will end. It seems that the new Tier 1 immigration system will concentrate on businessmen and a very small number of people coming under the 'exceptional talent' category. Those coming under exceptional talent will be limited to people such as top scientists, artists and sportspeople.
If you wish to emigrate to the UK as a highly skilled immigrant you will probably need to apply in the next few months. If you apply from April 2011 it is highly unlikely that you will qualify under the Tier 1 visa scheme. You will have to be one of the small number of people who qualify under the Tier 1 entrepreneur or Tier 1 investor scheme or be one of the very small number of people who qualify under the new 'exceptional talent' Tier 1 visa scheme.