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UNITED KINGDOM: Immigration Minister Announces Changes to Immigration Rules

On March 13, 2014, the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, announced the following changes to the Immigration Rules before Parliament:

  • The Exceptional Talent visa route will become available to leading talent in the digital technology sector, as Tech City UK will be added to the list of bodies that can endorse visa applications. Currently, the only bodies that can endorse individuals within this category are the Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and Royal Society. The exceptional talent category has an overall limit of 1,000 visas per year and 200 of these will be allocated to Tech City. 
  • A new category of overseas government sponsored language teachers will be introduced within the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange route, to enable teachers to share knowledge and awareness of foreign languages and cultures in the UK. Permission will be granted for up to 24 months, and the first of these schemes will support a Mandarin teaching scheme.
  • The ability for Sponsors to grant Tier 2 migrants five years' leave has been added. This follows an earlier announcement on February 3, 2014, of the proposed fees for this application: £1,028 for overseas applicants and £1,202 for those applying in the UK.
  • A new visa regime for visitors from Venezuela will be implemented on May 5, 2014.
  • Minimum salary thresholds have been updated for occupations within the Tier 2 category. The Statement of Changes presented to Parliament. Details of the updated salary rates start on page 39.
  • Appropriate salary rates for Tier 2 have been increased. Details of the increases can be found on page 123 (page 8 of the Explanatory Memorandum at the end of the Statement of Changes, linked above).
  • The threshold for maintenance funds will be increased in line with increases in the costs associated with living in the UK. This will apply to student, worker, and family immigration applications effective July 1, 2014. As applicants need to have held the funds for 28 or 90 days, depending on the visa category, anyone planning to apply beginning in July is advised to ensure that sufficient funds are held in bank accounts from the end of March. The level of the new maintenance thresholds are set out in the Statement of Changes at pages 125-128 (pages 10-13 of the Explanatory Memorandum).

Unless otherwise stated and subject to any fine-tuning by Parliament, these changes are due to start on April 6, 2014.

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