Immigration Update: Changes to the Visa Process for UK Graduate Migrants

16 February 2012

As the Tier 1 Post Study visa route is set to be removed from 6 April, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has published details of new provisions under Tier 2 (General) for graduates who would previously have been eligible under the Tier 1 Post Study category. Tier 2 (General) will be open to recent graduates with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, PhD, or a PGCE or PGDE, from a UK recognised or listed body. As per the normal Tier 2 requirements, applicants must have an offer of a skilled job from a licensed Sponsor and be paid at least £20,000, or the minimum appropriate rate as set out in the relevant Code of Practice. However, you will not have to complete a resident labour market test and the jobs will not be subject to the annual limit on Tier 2 numbers (i.e. the Certificates of Sponsorship will be in the Unrestricted category). This means that you will no longer need to submit evidence of your ‘milkround’ activity.

The UKBA has further clarified that a migrant who wishes to switch to Tier 2 from Tier 4 may start work with you as a student if their Tier 4 leave is still valid and allows them to work. However, you should not offer a permanent contract until the Tier 2 application has been approved.

It will also be possible for a student to complete a period of professional training in order to obtain a professional qualification in the UK either under Tier 2 (if possible) or Tier 5. The UKBA will make provisions to permit switching from Tier 4 to Tier 5 to accommodate this. Please click here to access the Statement of Intent for a full description of the changes. 

Increase in Maintenance Requirements

From April 2012, the maintenance requirements for the following applications will increase as follows:  

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Graduate Entrepreneurs and legacy Tier 1 (General) cases will be required to show £3,100 for entry clearance applications, up from the current £2,800 and £900 for leave to remain applications, up from £800
  • Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants will be required to show funds of £900, up from £800
  • Tier 1, 2 and 5 dependants will be required to show £1,800 for dependants of migrants who have been in the UK for less than 12 months, up from £1600 and £600 for all other dependants, up from £533.

Given the need to show 3 months evidence of maintenance funds, the UKBA will publish transitional arrangements for those who were planning to submit an application within 3 months of the date of the announcement of the changes. These arrangements will permit applicants to submit evidence of meeting the existing maintenance requirements prior to the announcement, with the funds meeting the new level as at the date of the application. Please click here Statement of Intent for further information. 

Changes to Tier 1 Application Requirements

On 13 February, the UKBA made changes to the guidance for all Tier 1 categories to include a paragraph which clarifies the circumstances when the UKBA will contact applicants about missing, or incorrect documents. Specifically, the UKBA will contact applicants to provide missing evidence within 7 days, when an applicant has submitted a sequence of documents and some are missing, for example a bank statement or a document is in the wrong format or a copy instead of the original. However, where no evidence is submitted eg no English language certificate, the applicant will not be contacted and the application will be refused.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application form and policy guidance have also been revised to allow applicants to use money invested in a UK business while they were here in a different immigration category. Please click here for an article with further information.

Breakfast Seminar

Kingsley Napley will be hosting a breakfast seminar on 21 March, which will provide a comprehensive guide to the changes effective 6 April 2012. We hope to see you there. 

For more information, please contact: Nicolas Rollason 

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