The Tier 2 (General) route will be subject to a limit of 20,700 places for 2011/12.
This limit will not apply to:
- in-country applications from those already in the UK;
- dependants of Tier 2 migrants;
- Tier 2 (General) applicants who are filling a vacancy with a salary of more than £150,000;
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) applicants;
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion) applicants; and
- Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants.
Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) applicants in the Established staff sub-category will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are paid more than £40,000 per year; those paid between £24,000 and £40,000 will be able to enter for up to 12 months within a specified period.
The current rules will continue to apply to Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) migrants in the Graduate trainee and Skills transfer sub-categories.
Tier 2 (General) applications will be restricted to graduate-level vacancies. The Migration Advisory Committee will advise us on what are to be considered graduate-level jobs, and we will amend the shortage occupation list accordingly. Existing Tier 2 (General) migrants in jobs below graduate level will be able to extend their permission to stay if they meet current requirements.
The minimum level of English language competency for Tier 2 (General) applications will be increased from basic to intermediate level (B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference).
Applications for certificates of sponsorship will, where the limit applies, be considered on a monthly basis. If the monthly allocation is oversubscribed, applications will be ranked according to:
- shortage occupations in the first instance;
- whether the post requires higher academic qualifications; and
Potential workers who are granted a certificate of sponsorship will have 3 months in which to apply for a visa.
From April 2011:
- There will be a new criminality threshold, requiring all applicants applying for settlement to be clear of unspent convictions.
- Skilled and highly skilled migrants will need to meet the salary criteria that applied when they last extended their permission to stay.
- Skilled and highly skilled migrants will be required to pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test prior to gaining settlement.
For those entering in Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the points-based system after April 2011:
- UKBA will stop our current policy of granting further leave to remain to those who fail the Knowlege of Life requirement.
- UKBA will cap Tier 2 (intra company transfer) route at five years.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended a new shorter list of occupations eligible for migration under Tier 2 Work Permit or Skilled Worker of the points-based system.
As part of its review of the immigration system, the government raised the threshold for Tier 2 Work Permit or Skilled Worker visas to ‘graduate level’ and commissioned the MAC to examine which occupations should qualify.
The government asked that the MAC use the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4 and above as the relevant benchmark. This will reduce the number of occupations qualifying for Tier 2 Work Permit or Skilled Worker visas by 71, down from 192 to 121.
The shorter list of occupations means that Tier 2 Work Permit or Skilled Worker applicants will only be able to apply for jobs covering the most skilled 39 per cent of the labour market rather than the current 56 per cent.
Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor David Metcalf, said:
‘Skilled foreign workers make a valuable contribution to the British economy but, in the context of limits on migration, it is essential that the immigration system is designed to select those migrants UK Border Agency need the most.
‘UK Border Agency have recognised this by ensuring our recommendations will allow the most skilled to continue to come and work here.’
Among the occupations which would still qualify for entry under Tier 2 Work Permit or Skilled Worker of the points-based system are nurses, teaching professionals, civil engineers and finance and investment analysts.
Occupations which UK Border Agency qualified as skilled to the old level but are not to the new one include retail managers, hairdressing and beauty salon managers, laboratory technicians, and estate agents.